Besides fashion and design, the capital of Lombardy is known for its vibrant art scene. And here I don’t mean only Leonardo da Vinci and masterpieces of the past, but also contemporary art in Milan. There are still a couple of days left to see two exhibitions at the local galleries – the works by Dan Flavin at Cardi Gallery and ‘The Accursed Hour’ by Carlos Amorales at Fondazione Adolfo Pini. Even if you can’t make it this time, I recommend that you keep an eye on their future events that will surely inspire anyone working in the creative industries or simply art lovers. Scroll down for more information and my photos from the exhibitions.
Dan Flavin at Cardi Gallery
The entrance to the Cardi Gallery is hidden at the far end of a picturesque Milanese courtyard, with outdoor plants and balconies, in Corso di Porta Nuova 38. Established in 1972, the gallery has a reputation for championing contemporary art in Milan. It has promoted artists from the Arte Povera and Minimalism movements, such as Lucio Fontana, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Piero Manzoni and Mario Merz. Its pristine, loft-like interior creates a minimalist environment perfectly in tune with contemporary art on display.
The current exhibition presents fourteen light sculptures by Dan Flavin (1933-1996), an influential figure of American Minimalism alongside names such as Sol LeWitt, Carl Andre, Donald Judd and Agnes Martin. They aimed to create works that renounced anything that wasn’t essential or pointing to the core. Their artworks often involved grids, geometric structures, primary colours and prefabricated, industrial elements such as commercially available neon tubes used by Dan Flavin.
Like other minimalist works, his sculptures played with the perception of physical space and its transformation by light and colour. The Minimalist aesthetic was born as a response against dramatic Abstract Expressionism (think Jackson Pollock) at a time when America experienced post-war technological progress and worldwide expansion of its corporations.
Even though Dan Flavin’s fluorescent tubes create an otherwordly, ethereal environment, the artist claimed they have no symbolic or transcendent meaning. I leave the interpretation to you – and if you’re in Milan you can also visit another place connected to Dan Flavin, the Santa Maria Annunciata in Chiesa Rossa church with a site-specific illumination created by the artist in 1996.
Carlos Morales at Fondazione Pini
The second contemporary art exhibition in Milan is set at Fondazione Pini, founded by scientist and art enthusiast Adolfo Pini inside the late 19th century building in Corso Garibaldi 2. The Foundation is committed to supporting emerging talents and has already hosted site-specific installations by contemporary artists.
The latest exhibition, ‘The Accursed Hour’ or ‘L’Ora Dannata’ in Italian, presents works by Carlos Amorales (born in 1970), who lives and works in Mexico City and in 2017 represented Mexico at the 57th Venice Biennale with the installation ‘Life in the folds’. Various elements of that project are present in ‘The Accursed Hour’, yet the strong visual impact is generated mainly by the ‘Black Cloud’ made of 15,000 paper butterflies that ‘invaded’ the exhibition space.
Back in April, the exhibition attracted crowds of visitors queuing up at the entrance, some of them lured by a possibility of taking photos surrounded by butterflies. But beyond the superficial level, the exhibition touches upon several important themes: language and representation of reality, fear, our perceptions, boundaries, human violence and tensions in Mexico and throughout the world.
‘Black Cloud’ was inspired by the annual migration of butterflies from Canada to Mexico and conceived as a farewell to the artist’s grandmother, so it can be viewed as a transition from a private to universal dimension that can be filtered through visitors’ sensibilities.
Both exhibitions are free and within walking distance from each other, so they can be visited on the same day, until July.