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Date created
Sun, Jun 5, 2016
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1Q2016 Chronicles of an art professional

Image Palazzo Constantino

Palazzo Constantino, Palermo, Sicily.

This art year stared mid January in the beautifully frosted mountain village of Verbier, in the Valais region of Switzerland, for the 1st official gathering for Verbier | Art Untold, an art summit aiming to become an influential international platform for dialogue and exchange in the visual arts with connections to all related disciplines such as music, performance art and dance and design. Set up by Anneliek Sijbrandij the 1st meeting was a beautiful moment and great success. Sijbrandij invited the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam to spearhead the next edition in January 2017, for which the museum chose the challenging theme ‘Size Matters’. To be continued …   Beginning of February my travels took me to Palermo Italy joining Hedwig Fijen and the other Boardmember for the second board meeting of Manifesta 12, the contemporary art biennial to be hosted by the city in 2018. Mayor Leoluca Orlando, on who’s initiative Palermo was chosen to host this by now acknowledged as the benchmark biennial for contemporary culture, gave us his warm welcome again and we proceeded to lay the groundwork for a most exiting event. Palermo is the pinnacle of European cultural fusion with a history dating back to the Phoenicians and before, serving as a perfect parameter for our contemporary debate on migration and cultural identity. Being there also gave us a perfect opportunity to visit some of the 1500(!) palaces located within the city parameters. Principessa Signoretta Alliata Licata di Baucin was extremely welcoming and hosted a true soirée in her private home the Palace Alliata of Pietratagliata, steeped in centuries of family history. Also Dott. Roberto Bilotti Ruggi d’Aragona, keeper of no less than 20 palaces in the city of Palermo alone, showed us his vast Palazzo Costantino, located on the north corner of piazza Vigliena better know as Il Quattro Canti. Palermo’s most famous square and a very powerful urban mark, the intersection of two perfectly straight roads dissect the medieval urban fabric of Palermo in 4 perfect sections each with their own name and culture. It can truly be seem as the four corners of the world, which I believe to be a very strong adage for Manifesta 12. But for now Fijen and her team are very busy preparing for the opening of Manifesta 11 in Zurich Switzerland on the 10th of June. A very exiting program under the title What People Do For Money, an apt title for Zurich and our ever more commercialized art world. Manifesta will also be commemorating the 100th anniversary of the creation of the Cafe Voltaire, bar and nightclub in Zürich, Switzerland, founded by Hugo Ball, with his companion Emmy Hennings in 1916, as a cabaret for artistic and political purposes, pivotal in the founding of Dada the most anarchic art movement to date. A brief visit to the Tefaf art fair in Maastricht in the Netherlands revealed that contemporary art can also be without any form of anarchy. As beautiful and priceless as all the old master paintings, the 18th and early 19th century art, the classic sculpture and furniture is, Tefaf is not able bring their contemporary art section up to parr with the very discriminative competition of 200+ annual art fairs world wide. Possibly these two worlds are simply incompatible within their formula. Mid March I travelled to Hong Kong for the ABHK preview and was again thrilled with this Asian outpost of the solid Swiss art fair. It has an inspiring mix of eastern and western art, much of which you would not find on either side of the Atlantic. Not only the fair proved worth the trip, also Uli Sigg, the Swiss diplomat who donated much of his vast collection of contemporary Chinese art to the new to be build M+ museum in Kowloon, decided to give us a sneak preview into his troves. An amazing collection of Chinese abstract works from the Star movement turned out to be a part of this. Furthermore the Hong Kong based initiative Para-Site presented a very compelling show in a run down factory building in downtown Stanley. Traveling to Hong Kong afforded us to pay a brief but crucial visit to Japan and the Tokyo art world. A world for some (mostly economic) reason all its own. Galleries spread out wide over the city, hard to find, not for reasons of the usual obtrusive address info indicative to Japan. A very private world, with some beautiful finds. A young artist Nobuya Hori creates memorizing works with a double brush technique all his own. It was cherry blossom weekend, which obscured a little the fact that there were few interesting shows, safe maybe for the exhibit Roppongi Crossing 2016 | my body your voice, on young Japanese artists at the Mori Art Museum. After Tokyo I stopped in Shanghai for a brief visit, amongst other things to see the Alberto Giacometti show at the YUZ museum. Considered to be the most comprehensive survey of the Swiss artist’s work the show was curated by Catherine Grenier, director of the Fondation Giacometti. Though the architect in me did not fully approve, it was a most complete and rich assemblage of Giacometti’s work I’ve seem, including many films and interviews including. YUZ museum, now under the guidance of director Ashok Adiceam is rapidly building a solid name for itself in a fiercely competitive field of contemporary art museums in the city of Shanghai. More next quarter …