Agnieszka Gratza

  • Tacita Dean, GAETA (Fifty photographs, plus one), 2015, mixed media, dimensions variable. Installation view. Photo: D. Molajoli.
    picks February 22, 2022

    Tacita Dean

    The melancholy if playfully homophonous title of Tacita Dean’s exhibition “Sigh, Sigh, Sigh,” coinciding with the ten-year anniversary of Cy Twombly’s passing (in this very city), conveys a sense of loss and letting go. Staged at the foundation named after his former secretary and now his archivist—a discreet presence alongside Twombly’s in Dean’s film portrait Edwin Parker, 2011, on view here—the show is a quiet tribute paid to Twombly by a fellow artist obsessed with myth and classical antiquity. Mounted on the wall above the steps leading down to the main gallery space in a way that evokes

  • View of “Nothing Is Lost. Art and Matter in Transformation,” 2021.
    picks February 08, 2022

    Nothing Is Lost. Art and Matter in Transformation

    This captivating group exhibition takes its cue from Antoine Lavoisier’s famous maxim: “Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed.” His Elementary Treatise of Chemistry (1789) is credited with ushering in the dawn of modern chemistry, which sought to distance itself from the magical thinking of alchemy. And yet, far from forsaken, alchemical and occult symbols permeate the show. Fittingly placed at its outset, Surrealist Victor Brauner’s 1940 Étude pour “La Naissance de la matière” (Study for “The Birth of Matter”) features a beguiling blue-and-pink Rebis, whose androgynous

  • Carlos Garaicoa, Partitura (Score), 2017/2021, sound, video, music stands, tablets, paper, ink. Installation view.

    Carlos Garaicoa

    “This is one of the happiest works I’ve ever made,” Cuban artist Carlos Garaicoa commented in passing as we paused in front of the video—a hybrid mixing filmed footage with playful animation—that ties together the discrete parts of his installation Partitura (Score), 2017/2021. First shown at Bilbao’s Azkuna Zentroa, which commissioned it, this collaborative piece draws on the input of some forty street musicians filmed in Bilbao and Madrid. Here in San Gimignano, snippets of their wide-ranging performances can be heard on headphones and viewed on tablets neatly placed over hand-drawn sheet

  • The twenty-eighth edition of Artissima reunited gallerists, collectors, artists, curators, and diarists from across the world. Photo: Artissima.
    diary November 11, 2021

    Time and Again

    ONE MUST BE PRETTY DETERMINED to make it all the way to Castello di Rivoli by public transport. An elderly gentleman who offered to be my guide from the Paradiso metro station strongly advised me against doing the last leg of the journey on foot. “I used to do it regularly when the museum first opened, but I’m no longer twenty-five,” he said. “The final ascent is a killer.”

    Located some twenty kilometers from Turin’s city center, the formidable structure that has housed the contemporary art museum since 1984 sits atop a hill overlooking the Susa valley and the jagged peaks of the Alps. My reason

  • Chiara Fumai, Dogaressa Querini, Zalumma Agra, Dope Head, Annie Jones, Harry Houdini, Eusapia Palladino read Valerie Solanas, 2013, six C-prints. Installation view.

    Chiara Fumai

    “Poems I Will Never Release 2007–2017,” a traveling retrospective dedicated to the late Chiara Fumai, follows its debut in Geneva with this staging in the artist’s home country. Curated by Milovan Farronato and Francesco Urbano Ragazzi in collaboration with Cristiana Perrella (and Andrea Bellini in Geneva), it takes its wistful title from an unfinished work featuring those words printed on a T-shirt worn by a headless stuffed puppet with outsize limbs. The voluminous catalogue accompanying the exhibition features essays commissioned from some of Fumai’s closest collaborators and friends, as well

  • Soshiro Matsubara, Last Night VI, 2020, glazed ceramics, epoxy, light bulbs, and cable, 9 7/8 x 13 x 4 3/4''.
    picks June 03, 2021

    Soshiro Matsubara

    The title of Soshiro Matsubara's solo show “Caresses” may nod to an enigmatic painting by Fernand Khnopff, featuring an androgynous youth stroked by a sphinxlike creature, but the exhibition itself owes just as much to the Belgian symbolist painter's Memories (Lawn Tennis), 1889. Holding tennis rackets against the backdrop of a grassy expanse, the seven figures it depicts are all modeled on Khnopff’s sister and sitter Marguerite, whose effigy is endlessly refracted in Matsubara's body of work presented at Rome’s MACRO museum.

    The exhibition is a variation on a theme explored through different

  • View of “Piedra quemada,” 2018.
    picks December 11, 2018

    Donna Huanca

    Spread over eight rooms in the Baroque former summer residence of Prince Eugene of Savoy (1663–1736), Donna Huanca’s current exhibition has an opulence all its own. Bright and dim spaces alternate throughout the Lower Belvedere, evoking an initiatic journey into a brave new world. Nude models—sixteen at the opening and two for the duration of the exhibition—with bodies painted in canary-like greens, oranges, and blues starkly contrast with their life-size marble and plaster counterparts, culled from local sculpture collections and arranged in a circle in the penultimate gallery. Huanca calls

  • View of “Garden of Memory,” 2018.
    picks July 09, 2018

    “Garden of Memory”

    Weaving together poetry, sound, and sculpture, “Garden of Memory” styles itself as a conversation à trois between artists who are bound by friendship and love. Poet and painter Etel Adnan serves as the link among her longtime collaborators Robert Wilson and Simone Fattal, both of whom she met for the first time in the summer of 1972 in Beirut. Her poem Conversations with my soul (III), 2018—here read aloud by Wilson over speakers and heard by Fattal’s sculpted angels—folds into another dialogue, this time between the poet’s different selves.

    Fitted with a gray carpet that dulls the sound of

  • View of “Sean Scully: San Cristóbal,” 2018.
    picks March 05, 2018

    Sean Scully

    Displayed in stable stalls and outdoors at Cuadra San Cristóbal, on the outskirts of Mexico City, Sean Scully’s paintings and sculptures gain a lot from their unusual setting. The Luis Barragán–designed private residence and equestrian center is all vibrant color and clean lines. Although his palette is much wider than Barragán’s own and his bands of color are fuzzier around the edges, the artist’s works resonate with and meld into their semi-rural surroundings. Take Landline That Pink, 2017, for instance, whose very title pays homage to the architect’s signature hue.

    The juxtaposition of Scully’s

  • picks November 14, 2017

    Kasper Akhøj

    When Eileen Gray’s ill-fated 1929 architectural gem E-1027—a beautifully proportioned white modernist villa overlooking the sea at Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, near Monaco—opened to the public in 2015, the controversial restoration project that started in 2006 and saw successive teams of architects and administrators undoing and redoing each other’s work was far from over. Taken on five separate visits to the site between 2009 and 2017, Kasper Akhøj’s black-and-white photographs chart the progress of such work at the house. Variously displayed individually, as pairs, and in constellations, the set of

  • Left: Artist João Modé and curator Daniela Castro. Right: Curator Zeynep Öz, artist Khalil Rabah, and curator Chihiro Minato. (All photos: Agnieszka Gratza)
    diary August 19, 2016

    Third Time’s a Charm

    WHAT HAPPENS WHEN Brazil and the Middle East meet in Japan? Artistic director Chihiro Minato conceived “Homo Faber: A Rainbow Caravan,” the third edition of the Aichi Triennale, as a journey, inviting curators Daniela Castro and Zeynep Öz—based respectively in São Paulo and Istanbul—along for the ride.

    The trip was designed to take visitors, curators, and artists across the Aichi prefecture in central Japan from the bustling capital of Nagoya to the smaller, equidistant cities of Okazaki and Toyohashi—all located on the same train line. A new satellite venue, Toyohashi has a sizable Brazilian

  • Kader Attia, Mimesis as Resistance, 2013–16, HD video, color, sound, 16 minutes 7 seconds. Installation view.
    picks August 11, 2016

    “Finnish Landscape”

    This open-air museum, like all others, is an elaborate fiction. Confined to an island and only accessible by a footbridge, the place—with its traditional wooden buildings, original furnishings, and costumed interpreters—appears to be caught in a time warp. Commissioned by the nonprofit Checkpoint Helsinki and curated by Joanna Warsza, “Finnish Landscape” features ten local and international artists subjecting this bucolic yet artificial landscape to critical scrutiny. An outline of Seurasaari looks like an elongated leaf in Erik Bruun’s arresting graphic design created for the poster of the