Snap shots of the Biennale of Chianciano 2013

With abstract works making faces at figurative ones, unintentionally, of course, the Biennale of Chianciano presented a rich offering. Certain emerging artists’ work could amaze or detain one’s attention for longer than expected. 

Over a thousand people attended the event during the opening weekend. Guests ranged from local politicians, to journalists from national and international publications, including photo journalist Lonnie Schlein, former editor of New York Times and the Italian TV. An appearance from Saudi Arabia royalty remained quite discreet

The art-works presented in over 3000 m2 on three floors were as varied as they were intriguing. It was a pleasant surprise to see my art-work, Human Brain Degraded 3 from my series of ‘Human Tech Hybrid’ close to Melinda McCarthy’s Dawn of the New World, both of which explore the effect of technology on human beings and society in general. While Melinda received the Third Prize of the AngloItalian Academy of Art Award, I consider myself fortunate to have received the Third Prize of the Biennale Leonardo Award for Digital Art.

Could anyone have predicted these coincidences? Curating the show must have been an exhaustive task.

‘We have a beautiful selection of art and artists. They come from so many different nations. We have a true understanding of global contemporary art. We are able to compare, contrast, and appreciate art-work in an environment which is stimulating, while conserving the depth and seriousness of these perceptive artists,’ said Roberto Gagliardi, curator of the show, and owner of the Museum of Art of Chianciano.

Sharing the Third Prize of the Biennale Leonardo Award for Digital Art was Egypt’s Khaled Abul-Dahab. His ‘Beauty of Egypt’ is an intriguing piece. Using motion photography, with frozen bits of a Sufi dance from top makes for an unusually beautiful shot, capturing culture, colours, and motion.

Turkey’s Aisha Doler presented a Dervish dance as well, in a very different style. Her drawings reveal many dimensions the longer one looks at them. They are all the more remarkable when one takes into account that Aisha’s creativity has not been schooled into known avenues of expression, but springs from a deeper source. Unafraid to experiment, her colourful works are just as interesting as the black and white ones, all the more so as she tends to use mainly felt-tipped pens. She probably needs mountains of them, as her work is all the richer for being so multi-faceted.

Australian portrait artist Nafisa’s art brings not just women to life, but the flowers that surround them as well in Passion. The suggestion of eyes, and lips in her rendering of flowers enhance the portrait effect, while the multi-layered petals are witness to her attention to detail, not just in form, but in substance as well, giving an insight into her perceptions of the human experience, which make her paintings come alive.  

Multi-dimensionality can also be discovered in Nicolae Haiu’s work, in his third year of Master’s of Arts at the National Romanian University of Arts. Combining techniques learnt with intuition, his works turn out to have many layers of meanings, which is unexpected in such a young artist. The suggestions of faces and figures floating through his beautifully textured paintings, lend them an extraordinary feel, as if figures from mythology, or the collective unconscious had come to peek at our ordinary reality. This superimposition of past, and future, myth and reality gives one captivating glimpses into a world inhabited by mysterious beings at whose identity one can’t help but wonder, whilst wanting to touch the supposedly grainy texture created on canvas by paint. He has had group exhibitions at the national level already. Two more international exhibitions lined up. The Honourable Mention he received for the Biennale Leonardo Award was well-deserved.

Also from Australia, Kerry Cannon’s The Gooney Bird may appear to be goofy at first sight, yet a lot of research and study go into his work, which are a commentary not just on artistic trends, but on society itself. An interesting amalgam emerges from his knowledge of mythology and popular culture. The First Prize for Sculpture for the Biennale Leonardo Award was well-merited.

From New Zealand, Heather Sarin’s Enrich is fertile not just in warm colours, geometric shapes but also in perspective, resulting from her judicious use of hues to create depth and space. A work that continues to reveal details, the longer one looks at it.

Living in the multi-cultural pot that is Canada, Christine Allan’s art is informed by her understanding of various cultures. Perhaps these can be seen in the layers and colours in her paintings. For example, ‘Waiting’ juxtaposes the notion of waiting with the furious energy that went into creating it at a fast pace.

Speaking of multi-cultural societies, in the same room as her work were my own pieces related to this theme. One was Magical Stream, from my ‘Perception’ series which explores the fact that society can become more tolerant if one understands that people from various cultures perceive our reality differently. The other was Fallen Angels from my series, entitled ‘Dispersion,’ which explores how parts of one’s being are dispersed as people migrate and inter-mingle with others, while as a society we are losing certain values as the financial and environmental meltdown show. On the other hand, this could be the trigger point for the next phase of the human evolution.

Reflecting on the future, is Turkish artist Nevim Kayaoglu. whose works are as absorbing as their titles. Nevim’s fine brush-work in Time Travel Project can be interpreted in a number of ways, including an eye where one can go on existing in future.

A theme that is echoed in Tanya Alvits’ work about immortal love continuing in the cosmos. Her skeletally sharp lines are softened by curves, and the colours used. Australian child prodigy Aelita Andre whose painting graced the banners of the Biennale dotted all over Chianciano continues to paint galaxies peppering her canvas with an infinite number of minutiae.

Besides being detailed, Grimay H. Hewit’s work is more complex than seems at first glance. Despite having had exhibitions in prestigious galleries, he remains more interested in having discussions about art with like-minded people than in the trappings of success. The First Prize of the Biennale Leonardo Award in the Painting category was well-earned.

A Cypriot artist of few words, Asli Bolayir expresses herself through language, colours and geometric shapes to great effect in her art-works, which invite one to ponder the deeper truths of life. 

Swedish artist Carina Ehler’s visionary art takes one to worlds rarely imagined, out of mundane life, inspiring one to reach higher, whilst reminding one that is more to the universe than meets the human eye. Also from Sweden, Johanna Engdahl uses colours to paint her moods and emotions.

Norwegian Anette Nosterberget’s black and white drawings walk a tight-rope between discipline and instinct, as she balances abstract with suggestions of the figurative, whilst creating deeper perspectives with an infinite number of shades between black and white. When asked why she preferred mainly black and white, she said that she can almost ‘hear’ colours, and so prefers the quieter music of muted shades. This is in contrast to film composer Alexandre Desplat who has mentioned that he can ‘see’ the colour of music. One can perceive why the Oxford University Alumni Society Award decided to give her the Second Prize at the Biennale.

Also from Norway, the quiet Anne Lise Kaaby Aas speaks effectively through her paintings. The longer one looks at them the more they reveal. Warm colours contrast with a few sharp lines to guide one’s eyes, yet there is intriguing detail wherever one lingers.

Nigerian artist Akhumonkhan Olugbenga’s work manages to combine opposites quite comfortably, such as snow with warm orange, or speed with a sense of calm. His Second Prize of the Biennale Leonardo Award for Digital Art was hard-earned.

Young Polish artist Katarzyna Lamik has been creating art all her life, besides studying for a diploma in arts. Her paintings are textural as well as structural. In Bath Takers 2, her characters are organic, while the surroundings are made of strict lines, perhaps representing an industrial society. The context can be interpreted to be bathing in happiness, which is related to inner calmness. This can be arrived at despite the restrictions of time and space, which are represented by the box-like structures within which the figures are attempting to sun-bathe. The green background represents Nature.

Saudi Arabian Bdoor Al-Sudiry’s installation made of local organic materials related to her region got the Third Prize of the Biennale Leonardo Award for Applied Arts. One part of her interesting installation proved to be quite tasty, as it could actually be eaten!

‘It’s the best Biennale we’ve ever had. The standard keeps increasing, the impact is ever growing. We intend to continue, and look forward to discovering new art,’ concluded curator Peter Gagliardi.

©2013 Sultana Raza

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