Venice Biennale / Those Crucifixes by Todd Williamson: reminiscences of the sacred memory between Naples and Italy
by Antonio Conte
The Venice Biennale is one of the most important artistic events in our peninsula and no one can avoid making a pass at least once in their life also because contemporary art is ever more complete and embraces more fields of human knowledge, impossible don't get involved by the innumerable inputs that come to us like bullets that hit our senses, without exception.
On the page, the artist's works at the BiennaleA special feature of the artistic event is its unraveling throughout the city with collateral events and national pavilions scattered around the districts of the Serenissima. Nothing could be easier then to get lost in the alleys of the city with the map of the Biennale in search of these events.
Along the banks of the Grand Canal after the splendid Piazza San Marco towards the Arsenal and the Gardens, the main venues for the event are many of these widespread exhibitions. A particular building, the Church of Santa Maria della Pietà hosts an installation by Todd Williamson curated by Priscilla Fraser. We pass by the light of the sun that invades and pervades Riva degli Schiavoni in the narrow and long chapel of the church.
A feeling of peace, mysticism and the sacred take the visitor head-on, thanks also to the contrast with the external landscape. Venice is a crossroads of people and suddenly finding oneself immersed in a religious silence always has a certain effect, a diffused light and an unpublished nocturne by Greg Walter composed for the occasion do the rest.
Todd Williamson cannot help but know that once he has caught our attention he puts us in front of large-format works. Abstract works with remarkable gestural power scattered around the chapel, even on the altar. Sentences of famous people accompany the works as engravings on black plates. words, tweets and posts extrapolated from their speeches, written in Latin as messages from prophets, letters and testimonies that take on an even more profound importance.
Accustomed to the light and to the well-known melancholy of the composition, we realize that the works recall crucifixes, recalling sacred images of an Italian tradition that the artist knows well having exhibited several times in Italy and in particular in Naples with the gallery Art1307 in the center historical and to the CAM of Casoria. The artist's works can be found in the permanent collection of the Pio Monte della Misericordia.
These crucifixes who only at first remember abstract works are more attentive and at peace with themselves than portraits of influential figures, spokesmen of our western culture raised by the artist to true sacred icons.
A criticism of a system which makes individuals like Donald Trump, Oprah and Kylie Jenner of the apostles of the contemporary. The installation, surely inspired by the place that hosts it, challenges the Italian classical tradition and, starting from it, undermines every stake and constraint by presenting us with the new sacred faces, today's influencers capable of understanding society or at least shaping it in their image and likeness .
A criticism that the artist puts in place by asking himself first where we are going with no more points of reference, a procession that first accompanies the visitor, making him participate thanks to the phrases of the painted characters, creating a strange short circuit between what the eye perceives and that which reaches the mind through words, then transforms it into an accomplice character and active subject that contemplates, venerates and idolizes the person, the VIP, the influencer of the moment until the next new apostle that the consumer society will impose on us .
To learn more https://www.labiennale.org/it/arte/2019
#ToddWilliamson #contemporaryart #VeniceBiennale2019 #MAKcenter #GregWalter #UNCSA
The Traveling "Circle of Truth" Exhibition Comes to the MOAH in LancasterLancaster Museum of Art History
Telephone Game, Chinese Whispers, Russian Scandal and Grapevine, each variations of a game played in childhood, speak to that elemental need to communicate, despite our instinctive knowledge that the message is subject to language, interpretation, and intent, all along the road to enlightenment or— truthiness. The search can be noble or naughty, but endlessly fascinating, and it's as old as a pack of dogs.
The Circle of Truth is an ambitious art collaboration among 49 contemporary artists, working separately, but sequentially, under the guidance of co-curators Laura Hipke and Shane Guffogg, who created the first painting and delivered it, along with a blank canvas and request to create a visual response to the next artist in the Circle.
Previous paintings in the series went into storage as the process continued with the 49 artists over a period of nine years. Although each piece is accompanied by an essay from the participant, the optic impact of 20 by 20 square paintings hung straight in chronological order presents a visual trifecta. An individual work, by Robert Williams or Ed Ruscha, for example, tells one story; pieces in proximity reflect one another; and the whole visual experience is a multi-image panorama unified by the age-old question, "Just what is the story?"
After a debut at the New Museum Los Gatos, Circle of Truth opens at the Lancaster Museum of Art on August 10 and then at the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art on April 3rd, 2021.
Originally published in the Summer 2019 Issue of Juxtapoz Magazine.
The Venice Biennale is often referred to as the "Olympics" of the art world and there are many reasons this is true! It is very expensive to exhibit at and NOT one penny is paid for by the Biennale. Everything must come from the artist, the supporting foundation, and the artists benefactors. Luckily I have a great group of collectors who really stepped up to the bat to help me raise the initial costs.
I was approached in early 2018 about possibly doing an exhibition during the Biennale. My first goal was a foundation and a curator to write the curatorial statement in a way that the Biennale committee would notice. I asked an old friend who is an important curator and academic in NY to write the statement for the Biennale. With a deadline approaching we went about putting ideas and thoughts on paper. What was relevant in the way I paint to the theme of the 58th Biennale, "May You Live in Interesting Times"?
We landed on the idea of Modern Apostles which eventually became "Influencers and Thought-provokers". These are people that have great influence in our world and can start a war, destroy a company, or create a best selling author with a tweet!
My curator had some issues that took president so I had to start looking once again to pick up where she had left off. I was introduced to Priscialla Fraser who is the director of the MAK Center for Art & Architecture. We clicked immediately and she agreed to write the statement and to process all the paperwork to get us accepted. This was August of 2018.
The application for the Biennale requires a curatorial statement, essays on me as the artist, the supporting foundation, the curator and tons of paperwork. It has to be approved by the director, Ralph Rugoff and is then sent before both the selection committee and the board. Its a lengthy process and we did not get the approval letter until December 26!! We were now officially one of the 21 collateral exhibitions approved by the Biennale as part of the overall program.
The Pollock Krasner Foundation agreed to support the exhibition and became my biggest financial contributor! Part of their support was also awarding me the Prize for Creativity, a special award given in honor of Lee Krasner. I am only the 3rd artist to have received this. What a huge honor! BTW, the Pollock is the most amazing group of people you can ever hope to work with!
More to come about logistics, press, costs, etc... So much to tell!
Los Angeles based artist Todd Williamson will open his solo exhibition "Processional" at the 58th International Venice Biennale on May 11, 2019.
The Pollock Krasner Foundation, in partnership with the MAK Center for Art & Architecture and curated by Executive Director Priscilla Fraser, presents PROCESSIONAL @ the Chiesa di Santa Maria della Pieta on the Grand Canal near the Danielli Palace Hotel.
Williamson collaborated with Professor Greg Walter from the UNC School of the Arts on a 3 movement work of original music specifically written for the Processional exhibtion.
Williamson was also awarded the "Prize for Creativity" by the Pollock Krasner Foundation making him the 3rd artist to receive this particular award.
For Processional, Todd Williamson examines the ideas of order and tradition to insinuate the deep uncertainty and uncontrollable political, social, and cultural movements of our time. Both the work and concept generated for this installation will draw directly from the environment in which it will be displayed, Chiesa di Santa Maria Della Pieta, in Venice. Occupying the long, narrow chapel located to the side of the Church, the space invites a meditative, sequential process of reflection. Drawing from the formal proportions, material richness, and dramatic natural light of this special site, the artist has developed a series of works, which encourage contemplation, challenge the perceived order of tradition and ask who are our apostles today? What are their roles? Is the influence of today’s perceived Influencers truly inspirational or dangerously dogmatic?
William’s large scale canvases will sweep across the chapel’s walls of brick and crumbling plaster. The artworks will offer a new layer, a current materiality, to the deep patina of aging plaster and brick establishing a deeply rich, and continuous monochromatic palette. The colors of these new works are connected to what Williamson has termed, “the Modern Apostles and their antithesis”, that is, contemporary influencers and thought-leaders that have the remarkable power to cover, pervade, and completely overwhelm the existing environment. These rare individuals can then both initiate great ethical reform or fragment such ethics to the point of irreparable damage and erasure. While figures have interrupted the establishment through civil, social and technological innovations (Nelson Mandela, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk); others have operated in a totally opposite direction, bringing fractures, distortions, erosion of pre-existing structures, but without any innovative or constructive intent of a new order.
"PROCESSIONAL" will travel from the Venice Biennale to the MAC Museum in Singen Germany afterwards.
#pollockkrasnerfoundation #makcenter #gregwalter #UNCSA #losangelesartist #venicebiennale #BiennalediVenezia #VeniceBiennale2019
The POLLOCK KRASNER Foundation has awarded Todd Williamson the “Prize for Creativity” 2019 for work that “embodies high creative standards and exemplifies the impact of art on individuals and society.”
The Foundation will also support Williamson’s project “Processional” in the Venice Biennale for 2019
#toddwilliamson #venicebiennale2019 #pollockkrasnerfoundation#makcenterforartandarchitecture #artecommunications #Processional #makcenter #contemporaryart
"PROCESSIONAL" presented by the MAK Center of Art & Architecture
Todd Williamson artist.