In my first few days at Villa Lena I was surprised to find myself feeling waves of emotion come over me, which I put down to both the beauty of the place and the exceptional circumstances in which I was there.
My responses were romantic and tragic, silly and dark.
I developed a multifarious practice over the course of the month that was both playful and meditative. It involved tree climbing, mucking around in the pool, drawing without looking, taking photographs, walking, running and dancing.
Curator Laura Copelin and filmmaker David Fenster presented their individual and collaborative land based art practices followed by a cocktail hour featuring West Texas and Tuscan flavours.
We looked at some of David’s film work, and also learnt about Laura’s current and recent projects at Ballroom gallery in Marfa, Texas. Laura and David are working on a collaborative film project, in which they focus on members of their community and elements of their lives in Marfa, Texas. We were also fortunate to get to see some of this on Friday.
Bored of flipping through Tuscany tourist guides? Overwhelmed by the endless options? Pick up the brand new Museeum guide of Tuscany! In this short guide based on the senses you can find information for anyone.
In this guide you will find the top suggestions for an exploration of the main cities around Villa Lena: Florence, San Gimignano, Lucca, Siena!
From a connoisseur to food lovers, there are amazing tips for restaurants. Dine with a beautiful view at the café in Museo degli Innocenti, or try Italian comfort food with a twist at Michelin star gourmet restaurant ”L’imbuto” (The Funnel) in Lucca Centre of Contemporary Art. This is a great place for a change from traditional Italian cuisine and for a break from medieval art.
“Untitled” by Alan Reid, NY based artist, 2015 Villa Lena resident
Villa Lena limited edition prints
There’s an expectation that painting, or visual culture in general, occupy it’s fixed moment at the now of it’s creation. Static, non-sequential art like painting exists as a relic of it’s making, tethered to the calendar position of its inception. How it exists within its time is one way we determine its authenticity. But I worry over the drive for authentic art. As some measure of pushback against this demand, I’ve gotten interested in a notion that painting can time travel. Is it possible for painting to be outside of its epoch?
When I first visited Il Bisonte printshop, which is just off the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, I was very aware of a kind of sideshow happening on the premises. The studio is packed with lithograph stones and prints reflecting the printers’ illustrious engagement with modern European masters: Moore, Matisse, Picasso, are represented. It seemed to me “the moment” being staged was one that has elapsed, a moment of the 1930s, ‘40s, and ‘50s.
I guess I thought, as an artist who is both outside the Modernist tradition and non-European, it would be interesting to take Il Bisonte’s stage at face value: to work within the logic of the Romanticized multiple. The question I asked myself, “what aesthetic language would be available to an American arriving at the print shop in the first half of our century?” I created a print playing within this game. Putting myself back in time, I thought an American print would be situated somewhere between the mass-produced pochoir covers of Vogue and maybe a hard to place artist like Ben Shawn. For the print I made, I drew a zebra, reminiscent of A.E. Marty’s famous Vogue cover. The zebra is rearing up in front of a fire, the flames drawn from a Shawn image. Somehow to my mind these are emblematic of a moment just before the authority of Modernism began to collapse.
Since 2013, Villa Lena Foundation has established a working partnership with Il Bisonte print studio in Florence. Il Bisonte was founded in 1959 by Maria Luigia Guaita, who with the support of a group of Florentine intellectuals worked with a great diversity of artists and brought print making into the spotlight in Florence. Many artists, both italian and international have worked at Il Bisonte. Among Italians: Maccari, Bardini, Mattioli, Faraoni and Annigoni, and non-Italians: Lipchitz, Chadwick, Calder, Sutherland, Wunderlich, and Moore, to name a few.
To date over twenty visiting residents have worked with Il Bisonte to create limited edition prints for Villa Lena Foundation. The techniques involved with creating an etching have changed little in the past fifty years and the process is a laborious but meditative one. The artists’ experience the tutorage and expertise of the team in the historical studio, and the resulting prints (Editions of 35 + 5 AP) are sold to benefit the foundation.
In 2016 artists Kon Trubkovich (b.1979, Russia, lives and works in New York, USA. Resident in June/July 2016) and Craig Fisher (b.1976, UK, lives and works in Nottingham, UK. Resident in October/November 2016) were two of the residents who made limited editions. Kon worked on a portrait of his wife, Alex, using two plates – one so soft it recorded fingerprints, the other creating more traditional hard lines. Craig also used two plates but in this case each used a different colour, a soft pink and navy juxtaposition which was hugely successful and evocative of the Toiano scenes that inspired it (Toiano is an abandoned village close to Villa Lena: a source of great intrigue and inspiration!) and Craig’s studio practice.