Indian to co-curate a show at Biennale

Updated: May 12, 2011, 21:15 PM IST

New Delhi: Indian art curator Shwetal Ashvin Patel is co-curating a crucial inaugural exhibition along with a senior Milan-based curator at the 54th Venice Biennale June 3-Nov 27.

The exhibition, ‘Orientale’, that opens at the Palladio Hotel and Spa at the Sala Zuecca, part of a old converted convent in Giudecca, an island in the Venetian lagoon, will probe the changing ties between East and West.

The venue, built in 1580, is of significant historical importance as it is one of the few surviving Venetian structures said to be designed by Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio, a legendary designer and builder.

‘Orinetale’, the inaugural exhibition of the ‘Venice Now’ initiative, features an eclectic cast of artists drawn from Europe. They include -- Jose Maria Cano, Ali Kazma, Robert Montgomery, Giuseppe Stampone and Matthew Stone.

‘Venice Now’, a new artistic space, intends to create an experimental space for exchanges and contaminations between different languages and mediums. Patel, an emerging curator and art practitioner based in Mumbai, is the co-founder of the ‘Venice Now’ initiative.

Patel, 32, was recently appointed as the executive officer of India`s first Biennale of visual arts -- The Kochi-Muziris Biennale in November 2012.

Milan-based co-curator of the show Maurizio Bortolotti, a professor of visual arts and curatorial studies, last year served as the commissioner of the first international arts fair at Gwangju.

According to co-curator Patel, ‘Orientale’ is intended to be the first of an ongoing "investigation that will explore the changing nature of the relationship between the East and the West in the 21st century".

Dwelling on the essence of the exhibition, Patel and Bortolotti in their curatorial note said, "through closer study of various aspects, the invited European artists have been given the opportunity to re-imagine notions of Asia through the realisations of new and site-specific work exhibited for the first time".

The show is of particular importance due to the strategic role Venice has played as the gateway between empires throughout history," the curators said in their note.

The artists, though practicing diverse techniques, relate to their immediate surroundings in their art. Jose Maria Cano, 52, who works between London and Madrid, uses a combination of aquatint on copper plates, etchings, drawings and watercolour to create large-scale encaustic or hot wax paintings on canvas.

Ali Kazma, 40, based in Istanbul, raises fundamental questions about the meaning and significance of human activity, labour and intent of economy, production, social organisation within different communities through his video work.

London-based Robert Montgomery, 38, hijacks advertising space like billboards, often illegally. He covers illuminated advertising billboards with austere black posters with white letters.

Giuseppe Tampone, 39, who works in Rome and New York City, is an interactive artist who opens dialogue with the audience on present-day and environmental issues.

India is participating at the Venice Biennale as the official entrant for the first time with an exhibition featuring four upcoming Indian contemporary artists curated by Mumbai-based critic and curator Ranjit Hoskote.