Critics’ Picks

View of “Proportio,” 2015

View of “Proportio,” 2015

Venice

“Proportio”

Palazzo Fortuny
San Marco 3958
May 9–November 22, 2015

“Proportio,” curated by Axel Vervoordt and Daniela Ferretti, brings the concept of proportion into an architectural and broadly artistic context. Measure, geometry, and numerical relationships are distinctive, substantial features of the exhibited works. An ascending path leads from the building’s spare, severe substructure to the diaphanous presence of works on its upper floors. Tatsuro Miki and Vervoordt’s five pavilions—architectural artworks made of hemp and quicklime—pay homage to the golden ratio while embracing the organic nature of their materials. Markus Brunetti’s enormous photographs of cathedral facades and Heinz Mack’s Rotating Ziggurat (Zikurat), 2010, fit perfectly into the rough spaces on the ground floor.

The main floor offers mimetic, precious works, such as a faintly delineated face in plaster by Fausto Melotti and a neon sculpture based on the Fibonacci sequence by Mario Merz. At the entrance to the third floor, in a 1907 sculpture of Paris by Canova, chiastic patterns become apparent, hinting at a formal and chromatic reduction of compositional elements, a strategy later adopted by everyone from Carl Andre to Sol LeWitt to Pier Paolo Calzolari.

On the top floor, Marina Abramović’s Ten Thousand Stars, 2015, leads viewers into a sidereal dimension as they listen, via headphones, to Abramović’s voice chanting the names of stars. Meanwhile, Maaria Wirkkala’s half-full glasses set on swings oscillate silently like timeless pendulums. Together the works’ upended and dematerialized gestures suggest otherworldly proportions of intergalactic space. As its underlying theme unfolds, this dense, refined exhibition captures visitors in an arresting, immersive atmosphere.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.