Biennale for Beginners #3

July 3, 2017

Over on Saint Giorgio, ‘One plus One equals Three’ is a simple installation with great effect inside Saint Giorgio Maggiore, made slightly surreal by viewing during a Sunday Mass. Pae White’s ‘Qwalala’ (below) is a sensuous glass wall made of delicately patterned flat and convex bricks, strong and ethereal at the same time.

Also on San Giorgio, ‘Maximum Minimum’ displays the some of the smallest and largest of Alighiero Boetti's work, often of the same subjects. Amazing textiles seem to abound this year, and here both monotone and multicoloured embroidery shows his art to great effect.

On a completely different scale, the Portugese Pavilion is quintessential Biennale, great modern art in glorious old buildings – in this instance huge steel and glass sculptures in Villa Herriot, each improving the other.

Mistakenly thinking the rain would hold off, we ducked back into Giardini for the skies to open. Sheltering from the rain gave us the delight that is Krung Thep Bangkok by Sonboon Hormtientong – plastic commercialism up against startling drawing skill.

Similar delicate skill is seen back in Arsenale in the China Pavilion, with more stunning embroidery and paper carving. The huge rambling Arsenale is a perfect fit for Argentina's enormous ‘The Horse Problem’. This is my idea of where contemporary art really rocks – one big idea with a great execution, and a real ‘Wow!’ factor.

The Italian Pavilion aces the wow factor, both with sci-fi decay and illusion that take the breath away.

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