Paola Nicolin

  • View of “Lucy McKenzie,” 2017. Photo: Kristien Daem.

    Lucy McKenzie

    Lucy McKenzie’s exhibition at the Palazzetto Tito (one of the venues of the Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa, whose headquarters are in the Piazza San Marco in Venice) offered visitors a totally immersive art experience. The Scottish artist took advantage of the context and venue to create a cohesive body of new works, in which she abandoned every form of naturalism and camouflage in favor of abstraction. This solo show, titled “La Kermesse Héroïque” after Jacques Feyder’s 1935 French film of the same name, unfolds throughout the first two floors of the palazzo, with twelve works installed in six

  • View of “Stephen Prina: English for Foreigners,” 2017.
    picks July 17, 2017

    Stephen Prina

    In 1923 Stephen Prina’s father, Pietro Prina, was seventeen years old and played the clarinet in a band in Canischio, his family’s small hometown in Piedmont. The sound of this musical instrument draws visitors across a threshold into the large room where the younger Prina’s solo show is installed. Dense and stratified, the exhibition is a visual story of a century’s worth of his family’s history. For instance, we learn how Pietro was confronted by a group of Mussolini’s Blackshirts who forced his band to play “Giovinezza” (Youth), the Fascist National Party anthem. This event provided the

  • Guy Ben-Ner, Escape Artists, 2016, HD video, color, sound, 37 minutes.
    picks February 12, 2017

    Guy Ben-Ner

    Escape Artists, 2016, a video by Israeli artist Guy Ben-Ner, is the sole work in this exhibition and documents the existential condition of Sudanese and Eritrean asylum-seekers being held at Holot, an Israeli detention center the Negev desert. While teaching cinema at Holot once a week for two years, Ben-Ner observed how his students were trapped in a limbo created by Israel, a country that cannot expatriate people whose lives would be at risk in their native lands yet refuses to grant them refugee status. The work’s narrative structure lies in the relationship between people as they carry on

  • Urs Fischer, Happy Cheese, 2016, cast bronze, oil paint, 9 1/8 × 6 1/2 × 5 1/4".

    Urs Fischer

    Massimo De Carlo’s original industrial space could not be more different from the gallery’s new location in an eighteenth-century palazzo. Yet opposites are known to attract. Like a couple that must live under separate roofs to stay together, the venues offer artists the chance to select the preferred context for presenting themselves: periphery or center, studio or palazzo, iron or plaster, high or low? All this, however, is violently called into question by an artist who, like Jonathan Swift in Gulliver’s Travels, has us journey toward Lilliput or Brobdingnag, turns us into dwarves or giants,

  • View of “David Smith,” 2016. From left: 7 Hours, 1963; Untitled (Chock Full O’Nuts), 1960.

    David Smith

    Many photographs of David Smith (1906–1965) show the artist next to his worktable or contemplating a piece in progress in his studio. Such images seem to present an ideal space for the creative process, revealing the formidable simplicity of Smith’s artistic practice. Intently observing the possible structural and semantic compositions of his tools and the shapes and colors of his pieces, Smith created his sculptures the way poets create their verses. His work, intrinsically lyrical, embodies concepts and moods within a totality of metric laws that the artist could choose to follow or not. This

  • View of “Memory Games: Ahmed Bouanani Now,” 2016, Bahia Palace. From left: Yto Barrada, #18 Majdoub Appliqué Flag, 2016; Yto Barrada, #48 Majdoub Appliqué Flag, 2016; Yto Barrada, #15 Majdoub Appliqué Flag, 2016. From the Marrakech Biennale 6. Photo: Jens Martin.

    Marrakech Biennale 6

    The sixth Marrakech Biennale was accompanied by a series of small, free publications (also available as a bound collection) corresponding to each of the fifty-three exhibited works. One of these booklets, penned by Omar Berrada, recounts the life story of the sixteenth-century Sufi mystic and oral poet Abderrahman al-Majdoub, whose quatrains are described as “full of irreverent wit and unexpected humor.” The poet, as well as his impact on Ahmed Bouanani, a Moroccan intellectual, film director, artist, and translator of Majdoub’s poems, were central to “Memory Games: Ahmed Bouanani Now,” a

  • View of  “Mark Handforth: Smoke,” 2016.
    picks August 04, 2016

    Mark Handforth

    “That strange duality” is perhaps the most illuminating phrase pronounced by Mark Handforth in this exhibition’s accompanying catalogue. Indeed, duality is fundamental to the exhibition’s title, “Smoke,” which must have been chosen for its ambiguous meaning—whether as a sign or an enveloping atmosphere. Duality and ambivalence, moreover, are the Cartesian axes of the entire project. Handforth, who was born in Hong Kong in 1969, is known for creating works that enlarge and distort everyday objects, which he takes as material because of the way they can radically transform the relationship between

  • View of “Goshka Macuga,” 2016. Foreground: Goshka Macuga, To the Son of Man Who Ate the Scroll, 2016. Background: Ettore Colla, Giocoliere, nr. 3 (Juggler, nr. 3), 1967–68. Photo: Delfino Sisto Legnani Sudio.

    Goshka Macuga

    In Goshka Macuga’s cosmological exhibition “To the Son of Man Who Ate the Scroll,” the artist stages a creation myth of her own invention, presenting her work alongside a wide-ranging selection of that of her artistic predecessors. Yet this story is ambiguous at first. Visible from the windows of the Fondazione Prada’s ground-floor exhibition space is a man carrying out small, mechanical gestures. He is seated on a large, low pedestal at the site where Virgilio Sieni’s Atlante del gesto (Atlas of Gesture), 2015, was recently performed, and where examples of classical sculpture and their copies

  • View of “Enzo Mari,” 2015–16. Photo: Bloomlab.it.

    Enzo Mari

    It is almost impossible to write about Enzo Mari the artist without writing about Enzo Mari the person—not just because of his eccentric character, but also because of his commitment to a methodology and because of the deeply political nature of his analytical, transformative, and redemptive work in art and design. For more than half a century, Mari has been working on a holistic design concept that incorporates every aspect of human experience: a project he calls a “system of creation.” Mari studied classics and literature at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera in Milan from 1952 to 1956.

  • Rineke Dijkstra, Julie, Den Haag, Netherlands, February 29, 1994, C-print, 46 × 37". From the series “New Mothers,” 1994. From “La Grande Madre” (The Great Mother), 2015.

    “La Grande Madre”

    In 1994 the Dutch artist Rineke Dijkstra began taking starkly minimal photographs of mothers, nude or barely clothed, cradling their newborns, some just a few hours old. The pictures, which constitute the series “New Mothers,” are illustrative of the extent to which Dijkstra limits the contextual information provided by her portraits to foreground her meticulous rendering of her subjects. And yet each of the snapshots in the series begs for an empathic response from the viewer. These women visibly bear the physical and emotional scars of the biological explosion that produces a new human being;

  • Vincenzo Agnetti, Dimenticato a memoria (Forgotten by Heart), 1972, felt, acrylic, 47 1/4 × 31 1/2".

    Vincenzo Agnetti

    Vincenzo Agnetti (1926–1981) rigorously explored the genesis of artistic ideas through a polyvalent practice based on a critique of language. His investigations spanned a broad range of mediums and materials: from his early work in the orbit of art informel to his collaboration with Enrico Castellani and Piero Manzoni on Azimuth magazine in 1959, from the abandonment of painting to his decision to explore the dimension of travel—in Argentina, where he worked in the field of electronic automation, as well as in Australia, Scandinavia, and Saudi Arabia—and the writing of the travel logs

  • View of “Jannis Kounellis,” 2015. From left: Untitled, 1967; Untitled, 1967; Untitled, 1967.

    Jannis Kounellis

    As I entered, everything was silent. Yet the room held some of the most thunderous efforts to come from a radical protagonist of twentieth-century art. Both of Galleria Christian Stein’s locations—the historical space in Milan and the new quarters in Pero—were devoted to a solo show of Arte Povera giant Jannis Kounellis, who was born in Piraeus, Greece, in 1936 and moved to Italy in 1956. Comprising a total of thirty-three installations and paintings (seven in Milan and twenty-six in Pero) created between 1959 and the present, the exhibition was the result of impressive curatorial