Venice. 3 Visions in Glass
Cristiano Bianchin | Yoichi Ohira | Laura de Santillana
October 29, 2009 – January 16, 2010
Premieres at Barry Friedman Ltd and travels to 4 museums in the U.S. and Europe
Barry Friedman Ltd. is pleased to present Venice. 3 Visions in Glass, a 10-year retrospective of work by three of the most important contemporary artists working with glass today: Cristiano Bianchin, Yoichi Ohira, and Laura de Santillana. All three artists live in Venice and work on the Island of Murano. They are represented in numerous public and private collections worldwide, and will be featured in this year’s prestigious Venice Biennale (June 1 – November 22, 2009) in the Venice Pavilion’s exhibition, “…Fa come natura face in foco – Dante.”
The exhibition, which premieres at Barry Friedman Ltd. on October 29, 2009, will occupy two entire floors and will include more than 100 new pieces and 100 retrospective works. The exhibition will travel to The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri from March 6 – August 15, 2010; The Naples Museum of Art in Naples, Florida from October 1, 2010 – January 15, 2011; the Musée des Arts décoratifs in Paris, France from March 23 –September 4, 2011, and the Glasmuseet Ebeltoft, Denmark from October 15, 2011 - March 18, 2012. This exhibition is a follow-up to the 1998 exhibition at Barry Friedman Ltd., New Traditions in Glass from Venice, featuring the work of Bianchin, Ohira, and de Santillana.
The three Venetian artists featured in this important exhibition have broken from tradition to work outside the expected forms, styles, and techniques of traditional Murano glassmakers. Even when compared to contemporary American glass artists, Bianchin, Ohira, and de Santillana are groundbreaking in their techniques. They eschew the narrative, employ strong and emphatic forms, and resist showy demonstrations. Bianchin, Ohira and de Santillana are consistently reinventing what it means to work in the medium of contemporary glass.
A hardcover book in English and French with more than 325 color images published by Barry Friedman Ltd. and Arnoldsche Art Publishers will accompany the exhibition. The book, priced at $75.00, includes a feature essay by Janet Koplos, art critic and Contributing Editor for Art In America, and essays by such noted museum curators and directors as Jean Luc Olivié, Curator at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris; Attilia Dorigato, former Director of Museo de Vetro – Murano; and Jennifer Hawkins Opie, former curator at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. Artist interviews have been conducted by the Italian art historian Rosa Barovier Mentasti, and the Italian filmmaker GianLuigi Calderone.
Cristiano Bianchin is a native Venetian, born in 1963. Bianchin creates monochromatic vessels and sculptures often sheathed in crocheted hemp and topped with primitive found figures. By combining glass with other media, his most recent series of glass “urns” are conceptual as well as elegant. It is their negative or implied interior space that suggests historical recovery, a time capsule of sorts. The human condition and form are constant themes in his work, and are often realized in large hemp wall sculptures, installations, and works on paper.
Japanese born Yoichi Ohira (b. 1946) has been living and working in Venice for more than 35 years. Ohira’s beautiful and unique vessels are a blend of Japanese aesthetics and traditional Italian glass techniques. His new and innovative Cristallo Sommerso series depicts vessels within vessels that appear to have been carved from within. These quiet sculptures in clear glass reference the abstracted human form. Ohira’s Calle di Venezia vessels present the viewer with a window into an interior world of highly saturated abstract mosaics. A luminous vertical yellow band bisects the back wall of the vessel representing the narrow walkways of the artist’s adopted home of Venice. Ohira’s work is technically challenging, aesthetically minded, integrated, and intelligent. He has been the recipient of several prestigious awards including The Corning Museum of Glass’ Rakow Commission as the top artist working in glass in 2001.
Laura de Santillana, born in Venice in 1955, is the granddaughter of the widely respected founder of the Venini Glassworks, Paolo Venini. Her works are richly saturated and organic in nature. With a modernist stance on a traditional vessel, de Santillana creates sculptural and glowing vessels of pure color. Her Bodhi sculptures -- bulbous, yet minimalist -- reference the prayer stances of Buddhist Monks. The irregular and organic shapes of her newest series, Meteors, mimic real meteors falling through space. De Santillana’s Flag and Tokyo-ga sculptures employ the sophisticated Italian incalmo technique where glass vessels are blown and then collapsed in on themselves to create flat, glass stele. Although these tablets recall color field paintings, the glass surfaces have a luminous quality nearly impossible to achieve with paint and canvas.
In her feature essay, Janet Koplos of Art in America writes, “One might imagine that a city as distinctive as Venice would inevitably shape the aesthetic of artworks made there… How could the new come from a setting dominated by the old? How could innovation arise in workshops that are esteemed for their traditions? Yet, however doubtful such occurrences might seem, they are demonstrated by the three bodies of work presented in this exhibition. The artists have followed independent creative paths, enabled—by their own talents in cooperation with craft masters of the glass factories on the Venetian isle of Murano—to work outside the expected forms, styles and even techniques of the medium as practiced there. Each of the three brings to the work a non-standard approach: Laura de Santillana because she is a woman in what has been a man’s field, Yoichi Ohira because he is a Japanese in Italy, and Cristiano Bianchin because he combines two contradictory materials. The artists thus escape convention in a way that few Murano craftsmen would choose to do—or even conceive of doing.”