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Jago, Apparato Circolatorio, 2017, Foro Bonaparte

text Francesca Lombardi

April 6, 2022

Contemporary art exhibitions to see in summer in Rome

Contemporary is on stage in the capital: our top must-see list

Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.
(Pablo Picasso)

If Picasso’s comment is grounded in truth, these contemporary art exhibitions in Rome are a veritable tornado of emotion: powerful, colourful and packed with meaning, they are ready to give the placid magnificence of the Eternal City a good shake. For Crazy at the Cloister of Bramante (until 8 January 2023), 21 international artists created 11 site-specific installations: for the first time art invades not only the interior but the outdoor spaces of Bramante’s Cloister in Rome, because madness has no limits.

Crazy, Chiostro del Bramante

At the Cloister, nothing is ordinary or predictable, but rather an expanding explosion of creativity, like Ian Davenport’s poured colours on the external staircase, or modifications to spatial perception, like the rooms by Lucio Fontana (1968) and Gianni Colombo (1970). It’s a violent shock wave that sweeps through every available space, from the Cloister’s bookshop - with a work by Max Streicher - to the indoor staircase, crowded with 15,000 black butterflies by Carlos Amorales, of the all-embracing immersion of Fallen Fruit by David Allen Burns and Austin Young in the Hall of the Sybils, an homage to the iconography and grand tradition of Italian painting. A flood of energy that changes focus and impels you to look in every direction: Thomas Hirschhorn bursts through a ceiling; Janet Echelman makes huge flowers bloom above the heads of visitors; Alfredo Pirri covers the cloister’s pavement in broken mirrors; Petah Coyne’s wax chandeliers speak of precarious fragility. Meanwhile, the exhibition season at Foro Bonaparte returns with two major exhibitions: Bill Viola. Icons of Light until 26 June, and Jago until 3 July. An extremely efficient communicator, sculptor Jago reaches straight into the hearts of an adoring public, like a rock star. His art also includes live streaming and photo and video documentation, which he uses to engage his online audience and narrate the process of each work. At Palazzo Bonaparte, Jago’s genius is presented for the first time in an exhibition that brings together a series of his works, from sculpted river stones (Memoria di Sé and Excalibur), to more recent monumental sculptures (such as Figlio Velato and Pietà), and including less recent but more media-exposed pieces like his portrait of Pope Benedict XVI (Habemus Hominem).

Jago, Pietà, 2021Jago, Apparato Circolatorio, 2017, Foro Bonaparte

Also at Foro Bonaparte, visitors will be enveloped in the work of Bill Viola, one of the world’s greatest video artists, in an exhibition that covers his entire career from the 70s to the present day, ranging from works that explore the relationship between man and nature to others inspired by classic iconology. A dialogue is created with the iconic Palazzo Bonaparte. Expertly curated by Kira Perov, the artist’s wife and executive director of the Bill Viola Studio, 40 years’ work is laid out in a precise selection of 15 artworks, beginning in 1977-79 with The Reflecting Pool and concluding in 2014 with the series Martyrs, alongside hypnotic masterpieces such as Ascension (2000) and several of the acclaimed Water Portraits series (2013).

Bill Viola, Water Martyr, 2014 Foro Bonaparte

At Palazzo Cipolla until 17 July next, London Calling: : British Contemporary Art Now. From David Hockney to Idris Khan, which brings together over thirty works by thirteen major British artists The exhibition brings together, for the first time in Italy, a collection of contemporary artists of different generations, whose careers were formed and forged in London, and who have in turn contributed to placing the city at the forefront of the art world.

London Calling: British Contemporary Art Now. From David Hockney to Idris Khan, Palazzo Cipolla (ph. Angelo Marinelli)

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