The choice to entrust the Italian Pavilion at the 2024 Venice Art Biennale to a single artist, Massimo Bartolini, has raised criticism

The first steps of the Italian Pavilion in view of the Biennale Arte 2024 in Venice could only be defined as somewhat tumultuous.

Read also: What the 2024 Art Biennale will be about

First the news leak in which the undersecretary delegate for Contemporary Art and Architecture, Vittorio Sgarbi, let a white rabbit emerge from his top hat with the name of curator Luca Cerizza (effectively anticipating every institutional protocol).

Then the choice of the artist, Massimo Bartolini, whose project for the Pavilion Italy was defined as "difficult to understand" by Sgarbi himself and by the minister for culture Gennaro Sangiuliano.

So we started off with a bang.

Biennale Arte 2024: Vittorio Sgarbi's controversies

Yet Massimo Bartolini is by no means a novice in the area of the Giardini and the Arsenale.

He has already participated in the Biennale four times (in 1999, 2001, 2009, 2013), but on no occasion had he presented himself as the only artist. And it is precisely on this aspect that a good portion of controversy focuses.

In fact, what added even more spice to the whole affair was the idea of once again entrusting it to a single subject - just as happened in 2022 on the occasion of the project by Eugenio Viola and Gian Maria Tosatti - the over one thousand square meters of space of the Tese delle Vergini Pavilion at the Arsenale.

“I don't like to think that the 2024 Pavilion becomes a new Tosatti Pavilion, in which an artist uses the space as he wants: it is a unilateral vision, while the project must be the expression of something more complex,” explained Sgarbi.

In short, we expect some rather stormy months.

For his part, Massimo Bartolini follows his path

On Wednesday evening he was at the Pecci Museum in Prato on the occasion of the evening event "Art for reforestation" organized by the Arte Continua Association led by Mario Cristiani of the Galleria Continua.

And Pecci itself, from 16 September 2022 to 7 May 2023, had served as the evocative setting for one of its most successful exhibitions: "Hagoromo" curated by Luca Cerizza himself and Elena Magini.

The work, which takes inspiration from a work created by the Tuscan artist in the 1980s, effectively anticipates all the main themes of his research: from narration to space, from theater to the relationships between opposites.

Who is Massimo Bartolini, the artist who will design the Italian Pavilion at the 2024 Biennale Arte?

Born in 1962, originally from Cecina, in the province of Livorno, Bartolini trained at the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence. He is a teacher at UNIBZ Bolzano, at NABA in Milan and at the Academy of Bologna and has under his belt several collective and personal exhibitions held in numerous national and international institutions.

Among these, the Henry Moore Foundation of Leeds (1996), the PS1 of New York (2001), the SMAK of Ghent (2013) stand out. , the Marino Marini Museum in Florence, (2015) and the Merz Foundation in Turin (2017).

He also took part in Manifesta 4 in Frankfurt in 2002, in Documenta 13 in Kassel in 2012 and in the São Paulo Biennial (2004) , Shanghai (2006, 2012) and Bangkok (2020).

The themes of Massimo Bartolini's artistic research

In each of these participations Bartolini has placed the cornerstones of his poetics which revolve around the relationship between man, nature and space. Especially the architectural one.

The latter changes, becoming the protagonist of interventions capable of transforming its configuration and therefore the way in which human beings experience and perceive it.

The artist therefore loves to play with relational mechanisms and perception: for him the physical place also becomes a completely different place, which leads to a more intimate, almost spiritual dimension.

It is no coincidence that the theme of the project that he will present in Venice next April "revolves around the theme of building a community through the invitation to listen to others".