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By Shalini Passi - La Biennale Di Venezia

Venice is renowned for its richly endowed cultural and artistic history, enveloping each in its aura. La Biennale di Venezia commenced its 59th edition on April 23 and it’s on view until November 27, 2022. The two main spaces for the Biennale are Giardini and Arsenale and around 80 countries have participated this year at the Biennale, curated by Cecilia Alemani.

Republic of Cameroon, Namibia, Nepal, Sultanate of Oman, and Uganda are debuting this year. La Biennale di Venezia was founded in 1895 as an art exhibition in Giardini and this year, around 213 artists have exhibited, where most of them are women, being truly historic for the Biennale. Following through with some spectacular art from around the globe, following are my top five pavilions of this edition.

Simone Leigh, USA Pavilion exterior resembling African rondavel, La Biennale di Venezia

Sable Elyse Smith, Landscape VI, Neon installation, Milk of Dreams, La Biennale di Venezia

1) USA, represented by Simone Leigh

Simone Leigh is one of the most celebrated black women artists, rightfully known for her larger than life, bronze and ceramic sculptures. Her sculptures explore female black subjectivity and cultural appropriation. She translates oral histories that have been included, filtered and omitted through her artworks, often traditional objects, recalling African/black traditions and female figures.

She is the first ever black woman to represent the US at the Venice Biennale. Her giant minimalist maximal sculpture adorned the US Pavilion exterior, resembling the African Rondavel. Her bronze sculpture, The Last Garment depicts a scene of a laundress, calling out the 19th century photography of Jamaica used by the British Colonial govt., fostering classism.

Simone Leigh, Last Garment (left), Bronze Sculptures, U.S. Pavilion, La Biennale di Venezia

Simone Leigh, Cupboard and Martinique, US Pavilion, Ceramic Sculptures, La Biennale di Venezia

2) NEPAL, represented by Tsherin Sherpa

Nepal debuted this year with artist Tsherin Sherpa, inaugurating the national pavilion. Tsherin Sherpa is a Nepalese artist, whose works can be witnessed through the lens of the Himalayan Diaspora. History and culture, both sacred and secular, form the bias of his contemporary artworks, using elements of Tibetan iconography. Tales of Muted Spirits – Dispersed Threads – Twisted Shangri-La, is a bronze installation by Sherpa, incorporating dozens of deities’ limbs, in reference with Tibetan Thangka paintings.

The Nepal Pavilion is curated by Sheelasha Rajbhandari and Hit Man Gurung who are also curators of the Kathmandu Triennale. The country is trying to encourage and support its national contemporary artscape through such initiatives.

Tsherin Sherpa, Installation View, Bronze, Nepal Pavilion, La Biennale di Venezia

Tsherin Sherpa, 24 Views of Luxation, Acrylic on canvas, Nepal Pavilion, La Biennale di Venezia

Another one of his artworks titled 24 Views of Luxation, embodies the traditional Buddhist style of painting subjected around a Hindu & Buddhist mythological figure Garuda. The acrylic painting uses a rich traditional color palette. Sherpa highlights the rich colonial history of his region through his works at the Biennale.

3) DENMARK, represented by Uffe Isolotto

Uffe Isolotto, We Walked the Earth, Pavilion of Denmark, La Biennale di Venezia, 2022

The Danish Pavilion most certainly stood out with its immersive evocative installations. Artist Uffe Isolotto has converted the pavilion into a paddock. Isolotto is popularly known for his public art projects, with a unique sculptural sensibility and contextuality.

Through We Walked on Earth, the artist traverses between hyperrealism and a tale of life, death and hope. As one walks in, the horse manure catches up, almost overwhelming alongside Danish eelgrass. The hyper-realistic sculptures of centaurs catch eyeballs from the get go.

Uffe Isolotto, We Walked the Earth Installation View, Pavilion of Denmark, La Biennale di Venezia,

4) KOREAN PAVILION, represented by Yunchul Kim

Yunchul Kim, Chroma V, Kinetic sculpture, Korean Pavilion, La Biennale di Venezia, 2022

Located in Giardini, the Korean Pavilion has been catching many eyeballs at this 59th edition of the Biennale because of its distinctive, larger than life, Kinetic sculptures. The show is titled Gyre, inspired by a 20th century poem by Yeats and is curated by Young - chul Lee. As you step into the Pavillion, it feels like you’ve been transported into a new world, an entangled sprawling space. Kim abridges the world of art, mythology, literature, philosophy and science. The pavilion embodies three parallel themes: The Swollen Suns, The Path of Gods and The Great Outdoors.

Yunchul Kim, Impulse, Mixed media, Korean Pavilion, La Biennale di Venezia, 2022

5) BRITISH PAVILION, represented by Sonia Boyce

The British Pavilion presented Sonia Boyce’s Feeling Her Way which investigates the prospect of group play as a means of inventiveness. Narrated through the multimedia installation, Boyce's project includes five black female musicians who were asked to improvise, engage, and experiment with their voices in a series of video pieces. In essence, it recognizes the significant contribution that Black British female musicians have made to global culture. Through a shared collective identity of racialization and prejudice, her artwork acknowledges the continuing effects of Britain's cultural imperialism.

Sonia Boyce, Feeling Her Way, multimedia installation, La Biennale di Venezia, 2022

Sonia Boyce, Feeling Her Way, multimedia installation, La Biennale di Venezia, 2022

The Venice Biennale triumphantly celebrates various cultures and their artistic practices from all across the globe. Spread across the culturally endowed Italian city, there are several foundation shows and museum exhibits enriching the entire Venetian experience.

Text by Shalini Passi


Shalini Passi is the founder of SPAF and MASH. She is an Art and Design

collector, Advisor, Patron; Philanthropist and Artist.





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