Agnieszka Gratza

  • Isabella Ducrot, Discesa dello spirito santo (Descent of the Holy Spirit), 2021, mixed media on paper, 15' 1 1⁄8 " × 9' 1 1⁄2 ".

    Isabella Ducrot

    Conceived as altarpieces for the baroque church of San Giuseppe delle Scalze a Pontecorvo in Isabella Ducrot’s hometown of Naples, the three larger-than-life works on paper presented as part of the artist’s show “Il Miracoloso” (The Miraculous) sat somewhat awkwardly on the walls of a white cube dwarfed by their imposing scale, their lower edges curving out to rest on the gallery’s polished concrete floor. And yet the tension arising from their sacred subject matter now being shown in a profane space was productive. The triptych, whose display at T293 replicated that at Le Scalze, juxtaposed

  • Sammy Baloji, Gnosis, 2022, fiberglass, 102 3⁄8 × 102 3⁄8 × 102 3⁄8". Photo: Andrea Biotti.

    Sammy Baloji

    At the heart of Sammy Baloji’s exhibition “K(C)ongo Fragments of Interlaced Dialogues. Subversive Classifications” were four exquisitely carved ivory oliphants, or hunting horns, from the Kingdom of Kongo. Two of these carvings belonged to Florentine banker and arts patron Cosimo I de’ Medici. Among this show’s many facets was a set of variations on the interlocking geometric patterns that adorned prized possessions such as oliphants, which the newly baptized rulers of Kongo gave to their European counterparts and the papacy as part of diplomatic exchanges. Similar designs were featured on

  • View of “Victoria Lomasko: The Last Soviet Artist.” From left: Underwater Activist, 2021; Transformation, 2022. Photo: Alberto Mancini.
    picks December 19, 2022

    Victoria Lomasko

    A full century after the founding of the Soviet Union, the title of dissident Russian artist Victoria Lomasko’s first solo exhibition in Italy—presented as part of Brescia’s Peace Festival—feels particularly apt: It takes courage to call oneself “The Last Soviet Artist” nowadays. Whereas artists of her father’s generation scorned Soviet realism, which for them embodied state propaganda, fortysomethings like Lomasko see this more figurative visual vocabulary as a means of countering the rarefied abstraction of much Russian art today, which offers little scope for voicing dissent.

    Curator Elettra

  • Liu Chuang, Bitcoin Mining and Field Recordings of Ethnic Minorities (detail), 2018, three-channel video installation, 
6K video, color, sound, 40 minutes 10 seconds. From “Statecraft (and beyond),” 2022.

    “Statecraft (and beyond)”

    Inaugurating her exhibition program as the newly appointed director at the National Museum of Contemporary Art Athens (EMST), curator Katerina Gregos’s multifaceted group show “Statecraft (and beyond)” revisited some of the themes she previously explored and even some of the same works that were featured in “The State Is Not a Work of Art” at the Tallinn Art Hall in 2018, conceived with the centennial of Estonian independence in mind. The bicentenary of Greece’s liberation from the Ottoman Empire celebrated last year similarly lent itself to a critical examination of the stuff nation-states are

  • Visitors to LIAF gather around Haroon Mirza’s Message from a Star (Solar Symphony 12). Photo: LIAF.
    diary September 21, 2022

    Stranger Than Fiction

    LYING JUST NORTH of the Arctic Circle, Bodø is the gateway to the Lofoten peninsula. A regional hub, the town is gearing up for its stint as the European Capital of Culture in 2024. A two-and-a-half-hour layover at Bodø airport en route to Svolvær—the headquarters of the Lofoten International Art Festival (LIAF)—left me with enough time to take in the opening ofBodø Biennale, coinciding with LIAF’s. The airport is, after all, only a fifteen-minute walk from the city center.

    Curated by Elise Cosme Hoedemakers and Hilde Methi, who was the chief curator of LIAF’s last edition, the inaugural Bodø

  • Revital Cohen and Tuur Van Balen, Paleness, 2022, water, diatomaceous earth, Acid Blue 9, dimensions variable. From the Biennale Gherdëina 8.

    Biennale Gherdëina 8

    In their curatorial statement for “Persones Persons,” the eighth edition of the Biennale Gherdëina, organizers Lucia Pietroiusti and Filipa Ramos list among their reference points the recent successful efforts by indigenous leaders and ecological campaigners around the world to protect forests, rivers, and other landscape features by endowing these entities with legal personhood. This suggests a departure from Western thinking, which tends to draw sharp distinctions between persons and things, although there have been important exceptions. Take, for example, nineteenth-century American polyglot

  • 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