Rudolf Stingler at Palazzo Grassi, Venice

The programming of Palazzo Grassi – François Pinault Foundation follows the principle of an alternation between thematic group exhibitions devoted to the works of the Pinault Collection and solo exhibitions by major contemporary artists. As part of the solo exhibitions, Rudolf Stingler has unveiled his first exhibition encompassing the entire space at Palazzo Grassi. Conceived by the artist with the valuable and meticulous collaboration of Elena Geuna, the exhibition Rudolf Stingel presents over thirty paintings from international collections, including those of the artist and of François Pinault, forming a corpus that itself becomes a masterly work.

The exhibition Rudolf Stingel unfolds over the atrium and both upper floors of Palazzo Grassi. For the first time, Palazzo Grassi has devoted the entirety of its space to the work of a single artist. It includes a site-specific installation as well as recent creations and previously unseen paintings. This will be Stingel’s largest ever monographic presentation in Europe and his first solo exhibition in an Italian museum since his mid-career retrospective at MART in 2001.

The project spreads over all the rooms of the building, where a carpet with oriental patterns covers the entire surface of the walls and floors. The installation is part of Stingel’s artistic research, which has always been directed towards the analysis of the relationship between the exhibition space and artistic intervention: for the artist, the carpet is a medium through which painting relates to its architectural context. Interested in the redefinition of the meaning of “painting” and of its perception, Stingel places the “carpet” at the core of his poetics. It bears witness to the passage of time and people and is also a source of inspiration, with its variety of typologies and textures, for successive series of paintings.

The exhibition presents a selection of over thirty paintings from collections around the world, including the artist’s collection and that of François Pinault. The first floor hosts a group of abstract paintings, some of which were created in the studios of Merano and New York specifically for this project, offering an interpretation of the historical, architectural and artistic context of Venice. The pattern of the carpet, while bringing to mind the city’s past, merges with a unique environment, the image of Sigmund Freud’s study in Vienna, characterised by different oriental carpets laid on floors, walls, sofa and table. The reference to the Middle-European culture, significant in Stingel’s training, is also a tribute to his friend Franz West, whose magnificent portrait features in this show.

In this sense, the exhibition becomes an inner journey, which starts from the glow of the silver of the abstract paintings on the first floor, and continues with the black and white “portraits of sculptures” on the second floor. Centered on the relationship between abstraction and figuration, the exhibition displays the constant fluidity between these two polarities, and how they characterise the artist’s poetics. It also invites visitors to ponder the idea of “portrait” itself and the concept of “appropriation” of images. The upper floor hosts a selection of paintings that represent religious wooden antic sculptures, created using the painting technique of photo-realism, inspired by black and white photographs and illustrations.

Rudolf Stingler, 7 April until 31 December, Campo San Samuele, 30124 Venice, Italy.

Image: Installation Images of the exhibition Rudolf Stingler © Stefan Attenburger