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Exhibitions

Ca’ d’Oro, Venice

Carpenters Workshop Gallery brings the first exhibition of limited edition design to the Venice Biennale.

Galleria Giorgio Franchetti alla Ca d’Oro, Venice
8th May – 24th November 2019

By Emma Crichton-Miller / 7th May 2019
Nacho Carbonell, ‘Inside a Forest Cloud Chandelier’, Light Mesh series, 2019 COURTESY: Carpenters Workshop Gallery

Nacho Carbonell, ‘Inside a Forest Cloud Chandelier’, Light Mesh series, 2019
COURTESY: Carpenters Workshop Gallery

Carpenters Workshop Gallery has recently opened its most ambitious exhibition to date: Dysfunctional. This spectacular group show of limited edition design by gallery artists and others, displayed throughout the gorgeous gothic Galleria Giorgio Franchetti alla Ca’ d’Oro, runs until 24th November – in parallel with the 58th Venice Biennale 2019. Supported by the Swiss bank Lombard Odier, this show boldly stakes a claim for the place of collectible design at this grand global gathering of contemporary art.

Daniele Ferrara, the Director of the Polo Museale of Venice, explained why this show was a perfect match for the venue, “The first proponent of dysfunctionality was Giorgio Franchetti. At the turn of the nineteenth century, he designed the beautiful mosaic floor for the courtyard, inspired by St Mark’s and Roman churches. He did so, despite the fact that the floor is regularly flooded, because he was acting as an artist.”

In championing Dysfunctional design, Carpenters Workshop Gallery hope to encourage audiences to see beyond function to the ideas, images and processes their artists are moved by, and which they hope will move others also.

Virgil Abloh, ‘Alaska Alaska’ Acqua Alta series, 2019 COURTESY: Carpenters Workshop Gallery

Virgil Abloh, ‘Alaska Alaska’ Acqua Alta series, 2019
COURTESY: Carpenters Workshop Gallery

The Design Edit’s top picks:

Moments of Happiness, 2019 by The Verhoeven Twins 
Inspired by the glistening light on waves in the lagoon, the Verhoeven twins, Joep and Jeroen, have created an installation of iridescent borosilicate glass bubbles in the first floor lodge of the palace. An extension of their Vanitas series of works, and titled ‘Moments of Happiness’, it captures the delicate evanescent euphoria every visitor to Venice experiences. In collaboration with watchmaker Piaget they have incorporated gold for the first time, adding to the sparkle.

Verhoeven Twins, ‘Moments of Happiness’, 2019 COURTESY: Carpenters Workshop Gallery

Verhoeven Twins, ‘Moments of Happiness’, 2019
COURTESY: Carpenters Workshop Gallery

Real Time XL The Artist, 2019 by Maarten Baas
To his beguiling series of clocks, whose faces incorporate films of individuals constantly drawing and erasing the minutes of every twelve hours, as if they inhabit the case, Maarten Baas has added the self-portrait, ‘Real Time XL The Artist’. To twist this conceit one stage further, Baas has based the portrayal on Leonardo da Vinci’s famous 1490 ink drawing ‘Vitruvian Man’, which is housed in the nearby Gallerie dell’Accademia. The giant clock face fills its cuboid housing. Baas apparently stands behind and occasionally, as he paints each minute, recreates the postures of that drawing. It is a prolonged meditation on time and mortality.

Maarten Baas, ‘Real Time XL The Artist’, 2019 COURTESY: Carpenters Workshop Gallery

Maarten Baas, ‘Real Time XL The Artist’, 2019
COURTESY: Carpenters Workshop Gallery

Light Mesh Series, 2019 by Nacho Carbonell
Carbonell’s poetic lights seem to twist and grow like a forest in the flickering light of the courtyard. Their shimmering textures recall the gilt and polychrome decorations which once adorned the palazzo’s façade and their cocoon metal mesh shapes echo the quatrefoils that decorate the windows of this Ca’ d’Oro (‘the golden house’).

Nacho Carbonell, ‘Under a Light Tree’, Light Mesh series, 2019 COURTESY: Carpenters Workshop Gallery

Nacho Carbonell, ‘Under a Light Tree’, Light Mesh series, 2019
COURTESY: Carpenters Workshop Gallery

Fragile Future, 2019 by Studio Drift
Studio Drift – aka Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta – have produced for Venice a supremely poetic, indeed drifting, version of their famous Fragile Future series, rising hesitantly but balletically from the floor, and mirroring in posture the figure of Saint Sebastian in the nearby painting by Andrea Mantegna. This is thought to be the last of Mantegna’s paintings of the saint. Twirled around a candle at his feet is a Latin inscription saying, “Nothing is stable if not divine. The rest is smoke.”

Studio Drift, ‘Fragile Future Chandelier Venice Mantegna’, 2019 COURTESY: Carpenters Workshop Gallery

Studio Drift, ‘Fragile Future Chandelier Venice Mantegna’, 2019
COURTESY: Carpenters Workshop Gallery

Ode, 2019 by Vincenzo de Cotiis
This monumental fibre glass and mirrored wall reminds us that the Ca’ d’Oro is not just an exquisite box for the display of beautiful paintings but itself an entire artwork, with every aspect of the architecture an expression of the original workmen’s imaginations. This mighty wall offers bafflement but also reflection – we are cut off from the past but we also see ourselves in it.

Vincenzo De Cotiis, ‘Ode’, 2019 COURTESY: Carpenters Workshop Gallery

Vincenzo De Cotiis, ‘Ode’, 2019
COURTESY: Carpenters Workshop Gallery

Door of Paradise, 2019 by Vincent du Dubourg
This massive, turbulent structure is placed near some stone-carved armoured figures in a room filled with images of suffering – Mantegna’s ‘Saint Sebastian’ and Antonio Vivarini’s Polyptych of the Passion. Is it the gate to Hell? Or does it offer, through the hard-to-find crack between the doors, a way out of pain into paradise?

Vincent Dubourg, ‘Doors of Paradise’, 2019 COURTESY: Carpenters Workshop Gallery

Vincent Dubourg, ‘Doors of Paradise’, 2019
COURTESY: Carpenters Workshop Gallery

Look out for a full review of the show in a future post…

Article By

Emma Crichton-Miller
Emma Crichton-Miller is Editor-in-Chief of The Design Edit.