a seam, a surface, a hinge, or a knot - Portugal Pavilion

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"A seam, a surface, a hinge, or a knot" is the project selected to represent Portugal in this edition of 2019.

a seam, a surface, a hinge, or a knot
By João Ribas

The official Portuguese representation at the 58th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia presents the work of Leonor Antunes, one of the most important artists of her generation. Engaging the histories of art, architecture, and design, Leonor Antunes reflects on the functions of everyday objects, contemplating their potential to be materialised as abstract sculptures. a seam, a surface, a hinge, or a knot reflects Antunes’ ongoing research into the work of figures who have been important in the context of Venice, such as Carlo Scarpa, Franco Albini and Franca Helg, and more recently into the legacies of Savina Masieri and Egle Trincanato, lesser-known female figures active in postwar Venice.  

The exhibition reflects on the contributions of Masieri and her commissions of Frank Lloyd Wright and Carlo Scarpa, and the lesser known designs of Trincanato, the first female architect to graduate from the Istituto Universitario di Architettura di Venezia, and author of a study of popular Venetian architecture from the XIII to the XVIII century, who also served as director of Palazzo Ducale and president of Querini Stampalia. Both Savina and Trincanato had a pivotal role in shaping a conception of Venice as a “modern” city, through exhibition displays, architecture, and historical work. Antunes is interested in how craftsmanship traditions from various cultures intersect within this gendered history. Antunes links the Japanese concept of “Shakkei,” for instance, denoting the use of a background, or “borrowed,” landscape in the design of a garden, to forms of crafts and making from Italy, Japan, and Portugal. In keeping with an interest in knowledge embedded in craft, and its technical as well as cultural memory, elements of the exhibition are fabricated in collaboration with master carpenters, leather workers, and glassblowers, including Falegnameria Augusto Capovilla, one of the still-active Venetian carpentries who worked closely with Scarpa.

As a site-specific exhibition, a seam, a surface, a hinge, or a knot is conceived in relation to the context of the chosen venue for the Portuguese Pavilion, to which the artist has responded through a series of sculptural gestures and motifs. On the lower floor of the Palazzo Giustinian Lolin, the androne, has created a cork floor piece, interspersed by two sculptures that function as screens, and using two wall lamps designed by Trincanato for the Istituto Nazionale per L’Assicurazione Contro gli Infortuni sul Lavoro (INAL) in Venice. In the piano nobile floor, a series of coated aluminum profiles, based on the exhibition displays of Trincanato, function as recurring elements. Distributed throughout the space, their vertical rhythm encircles and supports intricate sculptures made from mahogany, ash wood, stainless steel, and lime wood. The artist has also created several lamps consisting of brass and blown glass made in collaboration with a glass factory in Murano. The windows of the palazzo have themselves been altered to allow natural light to enter the space as a borrowed element of the landscape. The exhibition joins these various materials, craft traditions, and historical references.

Leonor Antunes: a seam, a surface, a hinge, or a knot will be presented at the Palazzo Giustinian Lolin on the Grand Canal, one of the works of the important Venetian architect Baldassare Longhena (1598-1682).  Longhena is perhaps best known for two palaces, both also on the Grand Canal: the Palazzo Pesaro (1659–1710) and the Palazzo Rezzonico (1660s–1752/56). The Church of Santa Maria Della Salute (1631/32–1687) at the entrance to the Grand Canal is considered his master work, commissioned by the republic in 1630.

Artist's work photos





Fondazione Olga e Ugo Levi | Palazzo Giustinian Lolin 



Technical File