ARSENALE VII: HEAD MELTED OFF

13 Sep

Urs Fischer’s melted (and melting, thanks to lit candle wicks) wax sculptures almost comically literalise the ‘Illuminations’ theme, although he must have felt like a total fool at the private view since nobody else seems to have bothered to follow any kind of brief. Any thematic convergence at the Biennale or any artist presenting good work seems to have occurred more or less randomly.

The items presented are also highly Venice-appropriate: a wax simulacrum of Giovanni Bologna’s disconcertingly titillating Renaissance ‘Rape of the Sabine Women’ (at the time of my visit just torsos with lots of drips, fallen muscular debris and face remnants) is surrounded by two unremarkable wax office chairs and what looks like a nonchalant smart casual artist or gallery-goer showing no concern whatsoever about his head being melted off.

I liked this. It was somehow grandiose and self-effacing at the same time. A rare example at the Biennale of an artist discovering a striking aesthetic and an interesting artistic tactic for himself, rather than just taking these things off the shelf or osmosing them with virtually no conscious decision-making process during his art school days. Unless there’s a whole school of melting-things artists that I don’t know about.

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