An evocative exhibition in Venice, by one of the leading figures in the Arte Povera movement.
Influenced by the non-figurative painting of Alberto Burri and Lucio Fontana, Kounellis has taken painting into new areas, emerging on the international scene in the 1970s. Born in Greece in 1936, in 1956 he studied at the Fine Arts Academy in Rome, the city where he still lives and works. He was also influenced by the work of Jackson Pollock and Franz Kline, and by the early abstract painting of Kazimir Malevich and Piet Mondrian. Starting in the late 1960s his work gradually moved toward sculpture, incorporating different materials like fire, earth, gold, and a wide range of found objects like doors, bookcases, fragments of beds. His use of live horses in galleries and performance space in 1967 has become a famous episode. From the 1970s and 1980s on Kounellis has continued to expand his lexicon of materials, including classical elements like the music of Mozart, and others connected with commerce, such as fire and soot, ground coffee, coal. In 1967 Kounellis showed in the exhibition “Arte Povera”, certifying his role as a part of that art movement. His work has been shown in the world’s most prestigious museums. In this new work he intervenes in the spaces of the Cloister, the Museum and the Library of the Mechitarist Monastery of the island of San Lazzaro, between St. Mark’s and the Lido (Venice). On the one hand, he works on a pictorial articulation using the language of architecture, emphasizing light and color. On the other, he creates a three-dimensional layout of objects, as if the viewer were inside a painting. Both configurations are intended to “present, not represent”, as Kounellis puts it. His work and his painting have always paid particular attention, in fact, to formal composition. This approach is undoubtedly one of the key aspects of his extraordinary art.