Highlights from the 29th edition of Artissima Contemporary Art Fair in Turin
Words Gianmarco Gronchi
“Imagine one day meeting a vampire”. So began the speech by Laurie Ann Paul, Professor of Philosophy and Cognitive Science at Yale University, during a talk hosted by Artissima Art Fair on Saturday the 5th. “Imagine that he proposes that you join the ranks of his followers and turn into a vampire,” she continued, “you would become immortal and always seductive, even though you would have to feed only on blood, sleep in a coffin and wake up only at night to avoid the sunlight”. L.A. Paul says there is no rational way to make this decision, because you cannot know what it is like to be a vampire until you physically experience it. This example was used by the American philosopher to illustrate the concept of transformative experience, an experience that radically changes an individual’s life and cannot be logically explained until one experiences it. The idea of transformative experience, taken from L.A. Paul’s book of the same name published in 2014, is the starting point for the 29th edition of Artissima Contemporary Art Fair, held from 3 to 6 November at the Oval Lingotto in Turin.
According to Luigi Fassi, Artissima Director, “the 29th edition confirms that Artissima is the fair that internationalises the Italian art system by connecting it with the global one. Artissima nurtures, grows and almost produces a new generation of Italian and international gallerists, acting on a dual agenda: that of the market and that of curators and directors of cultural institutions, who find in Turin a platform for updating, exchange and relations. We can proudly say that Italy is a competitive country on the world stage”.
Starting with the theme of transformative experience, the galleries present at the 29th edition of Artissima presented a varied proposal, seeking to open up research perspectives that challenge expectations and open up the unknown. In general, Turin saw a marked return of painting as an artistic language. It almost seems as if in periods of profound uncertainty such as those we are currently experiencing, painting, not only abstract but also figurative, is seen, both by artists and collectors, as a familiar and transitory language within which to take refuge. Examples of this are Nicolò Bruno’s oil paintings (Massimo Ligreggi gallery) or Viola Yeşiltaç’s abstract works (Collica & Partners).
Artissima showcases nu eclectic mix of historic names in contemporary art and emerging artists. Alongside the now historic Lia Rumma, Repetto Gallery and Richard Sulton Gallery galleries – which present well-known names such as Ettore Spalletti, Jannis Kounellis and Sandro Chia – there are young artists such as Erik Saglia (Thomas Brambilla), with his layered geometries, Teresa Giannico (Viasaterna), with works suspended between realist painting and digital reworking, and Giulia Cenci (SpazioA), winner of the Cairo 2022 Prize.
But Artissima does not only mean the contemporary art fair. During the week of the exhibition, Turin came alive with artistic presentations and temporary exhibitions. In this regard, the collaboration between Artissima and the Turin Museum Fondation, which enabled the realisation of the project So will your voice vibrate, is worth mentioning. The project, whose title is inspired by a poem by Dylan Thomas from the early 1930s, consists of three site-specific sound installations involving the Modern and Contemporary Art Civic Gallery, the Museum of Oriental Art and the Ancient Art Museum. The artists involved are Riccardo Benassi (ZERO gallery), Charwei Tsai (Mor Charpentier gallery) and Darren Bader (Franco Noero gallery).
In the Salone delle feste of the historic Hotel Principi di Piemonte was instead hosted the exhibition Rizomatic Time, by the artist Diego Cibelli (Alfonso Artiaco). Through his ceramics, the artist reflects on the idea of play and festivity, emphasising how there is no difference between past, present and future time. For Cibelli, in fact, there is no break between past and present, because cause-effect relationships generate connections that are not divisible.
Lastly, the Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Foundation opened the solo exhibition of Diana Policarpo, winner of the illy Present Future 2021 Prize. Titled Liquid Transfers and on view until Jan. 8, 2023, the temporary exhibition “investigates the relationship between the plant world and social, political and economic spheres, crossing scientific and speculative registers. In an attempt to create a feminist mythology that intersects psychedelia and health, Liquid Transfers reconstructs a scenario that connects biogenetics, gender politics, and speculative fiction to narrate the dynamics of natural resource exploitation and its impact on ecosystems and reproductive health.”