- GLASSTRESS 2019 at the 58th Art Biennale in Venice
A line-up of leading contemporary artists from Europe, the United States, Latin America, India, and China are populating GLASSTRESS 2019, a fringe event of the Biennale di Venezia at the Fondazione Berengo Art Space. This initiative of Adriano Berengo explores the endless creative possibilities of glass, forging alliances with internationally renowned artists and designers who have little or no prior experience working with this medium. A successful endeavour that goes beyond the stereotypes that accompany this form of art.
2019 is the 10th anniversary of GLASSTRESS and the 30th anniversary of Berengo Studio. So, the exhibition is returning to its historical roots on the island of Murano, where an old, disused furnace has been converted into an arresting exhibition space for extraordinary new installations. Works on display will be by returning artists like Ai Weiwei, Laure Prouvost, Tony Cragg and Thomas Schütte as well as first time participants, Prune Nourry, José Parlá and Rose Wylie, just to mention a few. The Brazilian curator, Vik Muniz invited the participants to explore “how glass redefines our perception of space”.
One of the exhibited works is BUG by the Italian artist Antonio Dei Rossi who first learnt the Murrina glassmaking craft from his Murano-based father, Mario. The artistic and artisanal process of Murrina art has always revolved around the technical virtuosity required to create a miniaturised glass image, obtaining a glass bead containing a portrait or image that can be used as collector’s items or for decoration. This is reflected in the importance of the Venetian jewellery and decorative items that contained the small Murano miniatures, in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Apart from crafting a unique piece, Dei Rossi uses the process in the application of design projects that range from jewellery to decor, referencing the traditional decorative use of this material. But he also uses Murrine as a medium of his artistic work: in other words, he makes the most of everything intrinsic to technique, unique and unusual, for a conceptual artistic operation.
So, as part of GLASSTRESS 2019, his artwork called BUG plays with miniaturising the image: the multiples obtained from the glass cane that can be considered similar and yet unique products. This is because the natural distorted shaping that comes with the process and the endless variants dictated by chance result in the crafting of works that are each slightly different from the next. The use of the technique for a different expressive language springs from the cylindrically shaped form, the different layers of the material in the process and the composition itself. This is a response to a path that seeks to transcend the limits that were usually imposed by the history of the glassmaking art and by the artists/artisans who worked on Murrina art.
So GLASSTRESS 2019 is an excellent opportunity to visit the island of Murano, and at the same time to enjoy the expressive potential and relevance of an art form rooted in our imagination as purely decorative and also a bit kitsch-oriented.
curated by Vik Muniz and Koen Vanmechelen
9 May to 24 November 2019
Fondazione Berengo Art Space
BUG by Antonio Dei Rossi
Images: Courtesy of Antonio Dei Rossi