Pictured above: Leonora Carrington, Green Tea, 1942, oil on canvas, 24 x 30 inches (61 x 76.2 cm), © 2019 Estate of Leonora Carrington / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
The Biennale Arte 2022 takes its title from a book of stories written by gallery artist Leonora Carrington (1917–2011). In her announcement of the exhibition, Alemani writes that “the Surrealist artist describes a magical world where life is constantly re-envisioned through the prism of the imagination. It is a world where everyone can change, be transformed, become something or someone else. The exhibition The Milk of Dreams takes Leonora Carrington’s otherworldly creatures, along with other figures of transformation, as companions on an imaginary journey through the metamorphoses of bodies and definitions of the human.”
Gallery Wendi Norris represents Leonora Carrington, the artist from whom the 2022 exhibition takes its title alongside fellow 20th Century Surrealist artists Alice Rahon, Dorothea Tanning and Remedio Varo. Based across Europe, America, and Mexico, these four female Surrealists contributed an astonishing number of important works to the Surrealist canon - it is estimated that Leonora Carrington alone produced between 1,500-2,000 artworks in her lifetime, whilst Dorothea Tanning was the subject of major solo survey exhibition in 2018 at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid in collaboration with Tate Modern.
Contemporary artists joining The Milk of Dreams, include Monira Al Qadiri, Sophie Al-Maria, Merikokeb Berhanu, Saodat Ismailover and Cecilia Vicuna. Absorbed by questions of life and death and the human condition, Merikokeb Berhanu - who is represented by Addis Fine Art - draws inspiration from nature and life. Although she has lived and worked mostly in urban environments, the motifs in her work derive predominantly from nature with works that are situated somewhere between the conscious and the subconscious.
Coming from the MENA region, Monira Al Qadiri (Athr Art) and Sophie Al-Maria (The Third Line) weave a range of concerns into their work. Al Qadiri, a Kuwaiti artist based in Berlin, produces research-based work focusing on the aesthetics of sadness in the Middle East, with a practice that explores unconventional gender identities, the possible future of petro-cultures and the suppressed legacies of colonialism. Sophia Al-Maria’s cinematic videos explore postcolonial identity, imperialism, and counter-histories weaving together music, literature, oral history, film, and dance. Her fractured, nonlinear works are often cast against a science fiction backdrop and explore the revision of history, the isolation of individuals through technology, and the corrosive elements of consumerism and industry. The artist was shortlisted for the Jarman Award in 2021.
Saodat Ismailova is a filmmaker and artist who came of age in the post-Soviet era and has established artistic lives between Paris and Tashkent while remaining deeply engaged with her native region as a source of creative inspiration. In 2021 the artist established a research group Davra in Tashkent dedicated to studying, documenting, and disseminating Central Asian culture and knowledge and in that same year, she presented the solo exhibition What was my name? at Aspan Gallery. Later this year, the artist will feature in Documenta 15 which opens in June.
Chilean artist Cecilia Vicuña, who is represented by Lehmann Maupin, integrates practices of poetry, performance, Conceptualism, and textile craft in response to pressing concerns of the modern world, including ecological destruction, human rights, and cultural homogenization. Born and raised in Santiago, she was exiled during the early 1970s after the violent military coup against President Salvador Allende. This sense of impermanence, and a desire to preserve and pay tribute to the indigenous history and culture of Chile, have characterized her work throughout her career.
The Milk of Dreams, the 59th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, will open to the public at the Giardini and the Arsenale, Venice, on Saturday, April 23. It closes on Sunday, November 27, 2022.