British artist Sarah Lucas is the sole exhibitor in the Great Britain pavilion in il Giardino at the Venice Biennale 2015. Other than her three small scale balloon-animal cat sculptures, the rest of her work is very sexual in content. There are two monumental bright yellow resin sculptures, one in the portico entrance and one in an interior room. These are made like giant balloon sculptures and are male supine nudes each with a monstrous erection and fluid engorged testicles. Plastered on the walls of other rooms are erotic photos of female nudes, bordering on pornographic. In other rooms, there are several plaster cast sculptures of female figures draped over furniture in various poses, but only from the waist down. Protruding from the vaginal or anal openings is a single cigarette. Sexual frustration? Delusions of grandeur? Docents at a desk at the pavilion entrance give out pamphlets with an explanation from the artist, and thankfully there is a collection box at the exit to recycle these. Sarah gives the “artspeak” version of her work, but I wonder if she is really just poking fun and going for the shock value.
The next two pieces are not 3D, so forgive me. French artist Liisa Roberts has photographed Russian business and military persons in the atelier of a sculptor in “Petersburg Underground,” 2015. Michelle and I were struck by Robert’s use of positive and negative space, and the haunting loneliness evident in the people’s faces. This seemed accentuated by their motionless poses in a room that is known for much activity.
Most of the Romanian pavilion was given over to painter Adrian Ghenie and his suite, “Darwin’s Room,” 2015. Many are portraits, but the landscape below really caught my interest. His mastery of the brush and colour really captures the sense of a first snow in a late autumn birch forest. Coolness inside, while outside was a hot Venice day.