The exhibition opens with a series of remarkable Neolithic menhirs (carved standing stones) from ancient European civilisations. These powerful sculptures reveal the role of intuition in encouraging the first (anonymous) artists to connect the two worlds, early attempts by man to create an immediate link between the sky and the earth. The same power and stillness can be found in featured works of Chung Chang Sup, Anish Kapoor and the installation of Ann Veronica Janssens. A similar mystic ecstasy is captured in religious iconography depicting illuminations, and in installations by Marina Abramovic and Nicola Martini, which explore the relationship between matter and perception.
Modern works by Vassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Hilma af Klint, Jean Arp and more, highlight the intuitive experience and feeling that drives the creative process, and led to the rise of abstract art. The importance of the spatial and temporal research undertaken by the Gutai, Cobra, Zero, Spazialismo and Fluxus groups is illustrated with works by Kazuo Shiraga, Pierre Alechinsky, Günther Uecker, Lucio Fontana, Mario Deluigi and Joseph Beuys.
The Surrealists interest in the unconscious will be an important focus of the exhibition. Their fascination with dreams, automatic writing and drawing, and the state of alteration of the ego will be represented with the ‘dessins communiqués’ and ‘cadavres exquis’ of André Breton, André Masson, Paul Eluard, Remedios Varo, Victor Brauner amongst others; along with the experiments of camera-less photography of Raoul Ubac and Man Ray, and the works on paper by Henry Michaux, Max Ernst, Francis Picabia, Óscar Dominguez and Joan Miró.
This legacy will also be reflected in work by Robert Morris, William Anastasi, Isa Genzken, Renato Leotta and Susan Morris, contemporary artists who, since the 1960s, have revived, developed and modernised the Surrealists’ interest with automatism, leading to new formal and technical results. The second floor of Palazzo Fortuny is entirely dedicated to these ‘Automatic writings’.
During the vernissage visitors are invited to explore and experience the paranormal fantasy of artists through four performances related to dreams, telepathy, and hypnosis by contemporary artists.
Matteo Nasini will register and analyse the sleep-pattern of a sleep-performer, transforming this into ceramic volumes with a 3D-printer, and a live audio performance; Yasmine Hugonnet choreographs a group of 4 dancers, who will move in circles in an ongoing silent dialogue; Marcos Lutyens presents a hypnosis performance, inducing the audience to participate by designing their unconscious thoughts on two clay tablets positioned on either side of a chair; in his improvisation “Straatman” Angel Vergara will be covered by a heavy cloth and rely on his other senses and imagination to create his canvas. Vergara has worked with the musician Mireille Capelle who has created a new ‘Architecture sonore’ for this exhibition.
A number of leading contemporary artists have been invited to create a dialogue with the historic works and with the unique character of Mariano and Henriette Fortuny’s former home.
Alberto Garutti, Kurt Ralske, Maurizio Donzelli, Berlinde De Bruyckere and Bruna Esposito have all created site-specific installations as part of the exhibition – a direct, and intuitive, response to the spaces of Palazzo Fortuny.
The top floor of Palazzo Fortuny will house an impressive installation by Kimsooja, who will encourage the audience to mould balls from lumps of clay while surrounded by a sound performance. Each personal meditative or spiritual moment will be cast in the finished clay balls.
Next to it, the wabi pavilion, created by Axel Vervoordt and Tatsuro Miki, invites visitors to discover the ‘tokonama’s’ – ‘toko’ meaning ‘platform’ and ‘ma’ framed emptiness . These platforms all bear humble witnesses of attempts from artists to capture the intuitive power of creation. On the other hand, a collection of shamanic objects is on display in juxtaposition with video works by Ana Mendieta and Cleo Fariselli and a choreography of Damien Jalet filmed by Gilles Delmas.