Blogs Boarding Life Trips and Excursions

Student Blog: Discovering Private Art Collections in Italy

25 January 2019

“An unforgettable experience that allowed me not only to expand my knowledge of art but also of life.”

What is art? Art is a way of expressing ourselves without the need of words. It is a way of expressing ourselves through magnificent figures that can take any form – maybe a painting, maybe a photograph or maybe a sculpture – and the best part is that all we need to create art is a little imagination. Throughout history, art has changed, and there have been many different kinds of beautiful art-works, no single one prettier than the other one, or more meaningful than the other, because what art really is, is personal; we all have different points of views and perspectives of seeing things and feeling things. Art is something that has always been important to me and, last week, I was lucky enough to be invited by the Achar family to see different Art Expositions and Foundations around the area of Milano and Torino in Italy, an invitation for which I am really grateful, as it was a breath-taking experience. We got the amazing opportunity for some of the artists to be present while we were at the Foundation or Exposition of their art, and they were so kind to take the time to explain to us a little bit more about their art.

The first stop was Torino, where we got to look to a wide variety of paintings and sculptures. Firstly, we visited Giuseppe Penone’s studio in Torino and exposition in La Venaria Reale, where his pieces are displayed in the royal garden. His theme is his personal relationship as a human with nature; therefore, he leaves prints in nature and later turns them into pieces of art, or he uses nature as a medium, such as using thorns instead of paint. He has two sections of the garden: the dark forest and the light forest. In the dark forest, the trees that are planted have a darker colour in general, and almost no sunlight reaches this section. He has created a fountain-like body of water in which, at certain times of the day, a finger print will be drawn by hot air in the middle of the water’s surface – his finger print. He also made a sort of ‘crust’ of a tree out of iron and then planted a tree in the middle. In the light side of the forest, he has extraordinary sculptures made of marble, and even more trees made of iron; one of those trees has a rock at the top and represents force. All his art in the light side of the forest is struck by sunlight at some points of the day. He also creates sculptures about meaningful things in his life. One of his most famous collections consists of parts of the human body formed by thorns. These are all absolutely astonishing.

We then visited The Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, also in Torino, where the exposition of four artists was happening: firstly, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, who paints ‘enigmatic figures’ that look like portraits, but are not; they are actually people which are not real and appear only in her dreams. In the exposition, if you stand in the middle of the room, you will be able to see a connection between each painting, maybe an exchange of looks or even similarities in their actions or expressions. Next was Andra Ursuta, who usually makes pieces of art that are inspired by real-life stories and then used by Ursuta to address cultural stereotypes. The exposition displayed is called ‘Vanilla Isis’ and was very dark; she uses objects from daily life and turns them into having dangerous and violent messages, which symbolises how ISIS brainwash people’s minds into believing that wrong things are okay, and do not see the actual truth because ‘it’s covered with vanilla’. Thirdly, Rachel Rose is an artist that distorts images in multi-media. In this exposition, she distorted a video that follows a storyline of a woman named Elspeth Blake, who lived in England in the 1600s. Last was Monster Chetwynd, an artist full of crazy imagination to display in her art, who creates little performances with costumes and paintings that help her express whatever she wants to. It was very powerful to see the different ways that art can represent ideas and explore themes, in some occasions being so simple but at the same time so extraordinary.

Our last stop was the Prada Foundation in Milano. Every year they change their art to present different themes, different artists and different meanings. There was so much art to look at, so much talent, that only a few that stand out will remain in my memory. The variety was unbelievable, from collections of cars, to video clips, to sculptures, to paintings; and the styles of art themselves – from modern to inspired baroque ones, there was just so much to take in. At the end of the day, we were all exhausted after the visit, but so satisfied and full of the joy of being there. Unfortunately, we couldn’t make it to the famous haunted house, but we know that after our experience, the Prada Foundation will always have a special place in our minds.

In conclusion, the trip was an unforgettable experience that allowed me not only to expand my knowledge of art but also of life. Art inspires us in so many ways; it changes us and, in a way, it frees us. I also got to learn a little history of the area and – of course – I was also fortunate to have the chance to visit such a stunning country, full of life and culture. I am and will always be grateful to the Achar family for giving me this golden opportunity and to the school for letting me miss a few days of school to go on this trip – it has been an education. Every artist has a different approach with their art, and I just can’t wait to figure out which one is mine.