August 28, 2018 - Pirelli HangarBicocca - Leonor Antunes: the last days in Galliate
August 28, 2018

Pirelli HangarBicocca

Photo: Heinz Peter Knes.

Leonor Antunes
the last days in Galliate
September 14, 2018–January 13, 2019

Press conference: September 12, 11:30am–1pm
Opening: September 13, 7–11pm

Pirelli HangarBicocca
Via Chiese, 2
20126 Milan
Italy
Hours: Thursday–Sunday 10am–10pm

T +39 02 6611 1573
info@hangarbicocca.org

www.hangarbicocca.org
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Pirelli HangarBicocca presents the last days in Galliate, the first major exhibition in Italy of the work of Leonor Antunes (Lisbon, 1972), curated by Roberta Tenconi. The exhibition space has radically been redesigned as a single sculptural site, where the lighting and the works intersect with one another. A trajectory that pays tribute to Milan's Modernist tradition, and to the leading figures who contributed to its development and success, names like Franca Helg and Franco Albini.

Through her sculptures Leonor Antunes reinterprets the history of art, design, and architecture of the twentieth century, and in particular the Modernist tradition, in its most radical and experimental instances. Thanks to a meticulous research into several projects and works, Antunes, after selecting specific details and fragments, transforms them into new forms and elegant artworks. Within this study process the artist ponders the historical context, the meaning of everyday objects, the social role of art and design as means of emancipation and improvement in the quality of life.

The exhibition hosted at Pirelli HangarBicocca is conceived as a complex site-specific installation that fills the 1,400 square meters of the undivided space known as the Shed: the works, many of which created from scratch, converse with the architecture structural elements and natural lighting, thus merging in a single narrative. The Shed is transformed by an intervention that covers the floor with a linoleum intarsia, inspired by a design by artist Anni Albers (1899-1994), whose colours hark back to the iconic floor designed by the architect and designer Gio Ponti (1891-1979), realized in 1960 for the Pirelli skyscraper in Milan.

Antunes also uses light to make sculptures and to scan time: the exceptional opening of eight skylight windows on the roof of the exhibition space brings natural zenithal lighting to inside the environment, while artificial lighting, entrusted to a series of brass lamp-sculptures—which are in turn inspired by some of Anni Albers's designs—generates intimate atmospheres of a domestic dimension.

Milan and its rich Modernist tradition—in particular the work of architects Franca Helg (1920-1989) and Franco Albini (1905-1977)—are the source of great inspiration for this artist. For the exhibition, Antunes delves deep into the collaboration that took place in the 1950s and '60s between the Studio Albini-Helg and the manufacturing house Vittorio Bonacina—a historical Italian company, today known as Bonacina 1889, active in the production of furniture and other objects for the home made with rattan and rattan-core.

The very title of the exhibition, the last days in Galliate, harks back to the artist's research into the work of Franca Helg, alluded to in the name of the place overlooking Lake Varese and the Alpine foothills, where Helg had planned and built a family house for her parents—one of the few examples of her building projects signed independently of her studio—and the place where she was to spend the final years of her life. However, the title also refers to another avant-garde figure, the Cuban designer Clara Porset who spent the last years of her life in the Chimalistac district of Mexico City—whose research was at the core of a former exhibition Antunes held at  at the Kunsthalle in Basel in 2013, titled the last days in chimalistac.

The exhibition is accompanied by a bilingual catalogue designed by the London graphic arts studio A Practice for Everyday Life (APFEL) and published by Pirelli HangarBicocca with Mousse Publishing. In addition to a rich iconographic apparatus tracing back over the various phases of study and preparation for the Milan exhibition in the photography of Heinz Peter Knes—who followed the artist around to the various site inspections required for the exhibition—in the Shed, the catalogue includes contributions by Briony Fer, Tom McDonough, Antonio Piva as well as a conversation between Leonor Antunes and Roberta Tenconi.

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