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Review of the Week: The Artists in the Venice Biennale Spotlight

4 min read  ·  19 Apr 2024

Frieda Toranzo Jaeger’s Rage is a Machine in Times of Senselessness Photo: courtesy of La Biennale di Venzia via The Art Newspaper

The Venice Biennale’s main exhibition and national pavilions opened this week along with numerous exhibitions across the city. Early reviews of artistic director Adriano Pedrosa’s main exhibition, “Foreigners Everywhere” are inevitably mixed. Many of the older works on show are by artists from the “Global South” who are relatively unknown beyond their own countries. Others prefer to discover “emerging” artists that are still alive.

Seven Artists in the Venice Spotlight

1 Jeffrey Gibson's US pavilion was targeted by Pro-Palestinian protestors on the first day of the Biennale’s preview week but they could not overshadow the artist’s colorful sculptures.

2 Ruth Patir and the Israel Pavilion’s curator decided to keep the exhibition closed while calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and the release of hostages held by Hamas.

3 Ersan Mondtag’s spooky, gritty installation for the German pavilion has impressed the preview week goers. “The dark lighting inside appears to intentionally discourage those who come to post on social media and depart soon afterward,” writes ARTnews.

4 Maurizio Cattelan has painted a pair of giant dirty, wounded feet on the façade of the Venice women's prison chapel, the artist’s contribution to the Vatican’s extraordinary Biennale exhibition.

5 Kapwani Kiwanga has filled the Canadian pavilion with thousands of colored glass beads made in Murano, some installed as curtains, as a dramatic comment on the history of international trade.

6 Willem de Kooning’s last paintings are being reassessed, and their value in the market rising, as a show opens at the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice, alongside the Biennale.

7 Frieda Toranzo Jaeger’s dramatic mural, Rage is a Machine in Times of Senselessness, is among the stand-out new works in the Biennale main exhibition. The new work combines “exhaust pipes belching noxious crimson smoke.. an erotic gathering of queer women amid towering verdant ferns,” writes The Art Newspaper.

"‘There is no art more powerful and truthful than war documentary,' said Ukraine’s First Lady, Olena Zelenska, in a video message to launch the Ukraine Pavilion in Venice, which features art based on YouTube footage taken by ordinary people when Russia invaded."

- The Art Newspaper

And in other news

Profile:Jenny Holzer and LaToya Ruby Frazier are the artists you have made this year’s TIME magazine’s 100 “most influential people”.

Market: Florine Stettheimer's Tulips Under a Canopy set a new auction record for the artist, selling for $1.03m at Christie's New York, 175% above the artist’s previous record sale. HENI News

Legal: Disgraced art dealer Inigo Philbrick's former friend, Orlando Whitfield, has written a book. All That Glitters details the dodgy deals, the excesses and the escapades that ended in jail time for Philbrick, who was recently released. Tatler

Artist Joseca Yanomami in front of the mural painted by the Huni Kuin Artists Movement (MAHKU), an indigenous collective from the Amazon, on the Venice Biennale exhibition pavilion. Photo Daniel Jabra