Mauro Bonaventura at Venice Projects


















Venice is, asides from the Biennale, a traditional city. It’s changed very little since its golden age, desperate to still shine of that golden age. This includes the production and sale of Murano glass. If I’d have known this exhibition ‘Reticola-Mente’ had Murano glass as its centrepiece, I may not have walked into it. I haven’t been able to escape from it since being here and so it’s hard to think anything made of it could be special. Most Murano glass items are tacky objects, positioned in shop windows to lure easily tempted tourists, tourists who have left their sensibilities at home when they came on holiday, tourists who will snap-up anything ‘traditionally’ Venetian. But this didn’t look like Murano glass… Mauro Bonaventura’s work has reinvented the medium – it is a traditional Venetian practice, conceptualised.

Mauro creates relief and freestanding sculptures out of glass, which has been stretched like lucid string and reformatted in structures, most of which appear like balls of intertwined wool. These are the kind of structures usually found housing a light bulb in trendy home ware shops, except these have a curious fragility that you can only get from glass. They are in some ways not too dissimilar to one of the most famous expressions of Murano glass in Venice – the coloured glass chandelier. But what transforms Mauro’s artworks from generic home ware is the inclusion of little dancing, thinking, laughing, figures that climb, nestle and hide amongst the webs of glass. In one piece on the black wall, the sculpture is formed like as a cameo-like relief – a red female face in profile, in which these little cream figures are strung. It’s a delightful revamp of the tradition cameo, which still fills Venice jewellery shop windows (you thought it was only revived when Victorian fashion is.)

Perhaps the most fitting extension of Venetian tradition was found in the mid-sized red ball encasing a reading figure that appears to be an allegory of education. Attached by each ear to the red glass exterior structure, these red stems seem more juicer, at these points where knowledge is realized. Not only this, but the cream figurine is moulded like a classical figure such as those that line the roof of Sansovino’s Renaissance library in St Mark’s square. These figures appear like ancient gods but in this context could represent fact personifications of education such as: history, poetry and geometry. Venice was at this time attempting to establish a name for itself as a learned city where Bologona and Padua already had a university (and Venice did not) and Florence an Academy. Interesting then, that Mauro Bonaventura, a native Venetian, should seem to want to prove Venetians’ love of learning too: “The mind…is a sacred space, transparent and infinite, as opposed to the body which, with its physicality and therefore its finitude, clearly defines the profane counterpart of human beings,” but chose to use Murano glass – a medium that gave Venice its reputation as one of manual craftsmanship (considered the product of the hand and the opposite of cognition). Therefore, both the things that Venice has been prized for, and the quality that it has long-wished to be known for, has been combined in this one sculpture.

Mauro Bonaventura’s exhibition ‘Reticola-Mente’ at Venice Projects is free and runs until 6 January 2013:

One Response to “Mauro Bonaventura at Venice Projects”
  1. Mauro says:

    Mauro Bonaventura

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