Venice Biennale 2009

Venice Biennale 2009

New Zealand Pavilion at the Venice Biennale

Left: Judy Millar Untitled 2008 – Oil & acrylic on foamboard
Right: Francis Upritchard Yellow Dancer 2009 – Modelling material, paint

February 12, 2009

New Zealand Pavilion Venice Biennale 2009

Creative New Zealand has secured venues for the New Zealand exhibitions at the 2009 La Biennale di Venezia.

Painter Judy Millar’s large scale installation will herald the re-opening after 30 years of the regal Sant’ Antonin church which is located close to the Arsenale, en route to Giardini. The church’s architectural scale and natural light suit Millar’s work.

Sculptor Francis Upritchard’s work will be exhibited in the more intimate venue of Fondazione Claudio Buziol within Palazzo Mangilli-Valmarana, which is located on one of the main walking routes from Venice’s train station. Close to the Rialto Bridge her second floor grand palazzo exhibition rooms look directly out at the Grand Canal, one of the world’s most tourist populated highways.

Creative New Zealand’s biennale Commissioner Jenny Harper said, ‘Each venue is interesting in its own right, the Fondazione Claudio Buziol with its smaller-scale charm and uniqueness, and Sant’ Antonin with its larger, but manageable, architectural scale. There is no question that each artist will be able to realise their creative endeavours to the best advantage in these venues.”

An online auction of both artists’ work will be held on 2 April 2009 (GMT+11) at Art+ Object, Auckland, New Zealand (details released soon at Some of the proceeds from the auction will go towards assisting the New Zealand at Venice 2009 project.

Update on the artists’ biennale concepts

Francis Upritchard: Save Yourself

“I want to create a visionary landscape, which refers to the hallucinatory works of the medieval painters Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Brueghel, and simultaneously draws on the utopian rhetoric of post-sixties counterculture, high modernist futurism and the warped dreams of survivalists, millenarians and social exiles.” – Francis Upritchard

The installation Save Yourself by Francis Upritchard will include clusters of figures and structures spread through the faded elegance of three chambers within the Fondazione Claudio Buziol at the Palazzo Mangilli-Valmarana overlooking the Grand Canal. Each grouping occupies an imaginary landscape which exists in an indeterminate historical period. The figures populating these fantasy scenes are detailed with a psychedelic surface and a handmade quality. They are searchers, dreamers, dancers; consumed by their acts of meditation or lost in reverie. The installation combines the antique and futuristic, making the scene both familiar and unsettling. The work explores ideas about time, hope and evolutionary change and points to uncertain boundaries between high and applied art as experienced through the lavish decor of the Venetian palazzo.

Judy Millar: Giraffe-Bottle-Gun

Judy Millar will be taking over the interior of the Renaissance structure Sant’ Antonin, a church that has been closed for the last three decades but is being restored in time for her work. The largest piece in the show, sited in the centre of the church, will be a painting in the round, bulging and intruding into the viewer’s space in three dimensions. In other parts of the church oddly-shaped canvasses will lean against the walls, stretching their elongated necks to the ceiling, making obvious their temporary placement in Venice and their provisional relationship with this prior place of worship and belief.

The generous physical dimensions of Sant’ Antonin will allow a full play of spatial disruptions, dislocations and inversions to unfold. Large visceral images will surge and loop around the space interacting with much smaller canvasses placed in the church’s side chapels, setting up tensions between notions of inside and outside, large and small, the hand-made and the digitally-reproduced.

The exhibition Giraffe-Bottle-Gun will instigate an almost violent dispute with the venue in which it is shown, between the great history of Venetian painting and this contemporary practice.

Both projects are being developed in association with New Zealand Commissioner Jenny Harper and are initiatives of Creative New Zealand the Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa.

To find out more please contact Hannah Evans:

New Zealand Pavilion

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