The long-awaited title and theme of the 59th International Art Exhibition in Venice has been announced. Cecilia Alemani, curator and artistic director of Biennale Arte 2022, and Roberto Cicutto, President of La Biennale di Venezia, have released “The Milk of Dreams”.
There is an emphasis on female artists and gender roles with both contemporary and historical artists spanning over a hundred years of art works. The inspiration for the theme this year is The Milk of Dreamsan illustrated children’s book by the late British-Mexican surrealist painter and storyteller Leonora Carrington.
“The exhibition takes us on an imaginary journey through metamorphoses of the body and definitions of humanity,” says Alemani. The author / illustrator “describes a magical world where life is constantly re-envisioned through the prism of the imagination, and where everyone can change, be transformed, become something and someone else.”
Carrington was a surrealist painter who lived most of her life in Mexico City. Mexico gave Carrington the opportunity and space to sculpt and paint. The Mayan and Aztec history of Mexico, with its cultural focus on death and rebirth, gave Carrington plenty of complex topics to draw from for inspiration and muse. She met a number of famous artists, including Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. When reviewing her works you can surely see that their style had an impression on her, perhaps depicted as an eagerness to fit in and also stand out from them as their works evolved over time. Carrington’s works have been described as having a dreamlike state, wrought with magic and mystery. Perhaps if she had been born in a later time she would’ve been a set director or writer for movies like Pan’s Labyrinth.
Many would say that Leonra Carrington was a largely overlooked surrealist artist and was well before her time with her fantastical and overtly other-worldly themes. Reviewing her publications one can quickly defer that her works are not necessarily for children considering there is a two-faced girl (a girl with two faces literally) who enjoys eating spiders, and a book about a boy whose head turns into an actual house.
Despite a multitude of surrealism from her time, her work stood out and begged the viewer to realize or create meaning for themselves without the need or desire to explain the gravity of the works. Don’t expect any more than a glimpse: during her lifetime, she “[refused] to be drawn into any analysis of why she has painted what she has, ” according to her cousin, Joanna Moorhead. We are thrilled to see what is in store considering this obscure yet delightfully peculiar artist is the inspiration for this year’s Biennale.
Well over 200 artists will be officially participating in the years Biennale from dozens of countries. Unlike most major art events around the world referred to as ‘fairs’ the Biennale is different with the artists being hand selected by the board. The selections are made by the Board of the Biennale di Venezia, following the proposal of the curators. Also upon the recommendation of the curators, the Biennale names the five members of its international jury, which are in charge of awarding prizes to the national pavilions.
Noor Abuarafeh of Jerusalem, Carla Accardi of Italy, Igshaan Adams of South Africa, Eileen Agar of Argentina, Sophia Al-Maria of the USA, Ruth Asawa of the USA, Firelei Báez of the Dominican Republic, Merikokeb Berhanu of Ethiopia and so many more prove that the Biennial is dedicated to diversity with this eclectic selection of artists.
This year’s Biennale is brimming with artists eager to showcase their work and come out for a breath of fresh air in the dream-like state post-covid. Perhaps the environmental and global atmosphere are inspiration for the curators, one can only imagine. Our intent is to find out. From augmented reality, to digital art and other innovative new mediums – this year’s biennale will be one for the books.