Friday, August 4, 2017

283. The Brilliance of Damien Hirst

Another reason - as if I needed one - for my going to Venice for this short visit was to visit the fabulous Palazzo Grassi ( on the Grand Canal ) to see English artist Damien Hirst’s extraordinary exhibition ‘Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable’. 

This exceptional body of fantasy has been in the making for over ten years, and tells the story of the ancient wreck of a vast ship - the ‘Unbelievable’ - and presents in this exhibition what was discovered and recovered of its precious cargo: the impressive collection of Aulus Calidius Amotan – a freed slave better known as Cif Amotan II – all of which was destined for a temple dedicated to the sun.

  The Fate of a Banished Man - bronze
........................................

... NOW PLEASE READ THE ARTIST'S STATEMENT 
BEFORE YOU VIEW THE IMAGES ... 

- otherwise the exhibition will not make much sense -

........................................ 

Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable

 

In 2008, a vast wreckage site was discovered off the coast of East Africa. The finding lent credence to the legend of Cif Amotan II, a freed slave from Antioch (north-west Turkey) who lived between the mid-first and early-second centuries CE.

Ex-slaves were afforded ample opportunities for socio-economic advancement in the Roman Empire through involvement in the financial affairs of their patrons and past masters. The story of Amotan (who is sometimes referred to as Aulus Calidius Amotan) relates that the slave accumulated an immense fortune on the acquisition of his freedom.

Bloated with excess wealth, he proceeded to build a lavish collection of artefacts deriving from the lengths and breadths of the ancient world. The freedman’s one hundred fabled treasures – commissions, copies, fakes, purchases and plunder – were brought together on board a colossal ship, the Apistos  ( translates from Koine Greek as the ‘Unbelievable’ ), which was destined for a temple purpose-built by the collector. Yet the vessel foundered, consigning its hoard to the realm of myth and spawning myriad permutations of this story of ambition and avarice, splendour and hubris.

The collection lay submerged in the Indian Ocean for some two thousand years before the site was discovered in 2008, near the ancient trading ports of Azania (south-east African coast). Almost a decade after excavations began, this exhibition brings together the works recovered in this extraordinary find.

A number of the sculptures are exhibited prior to undergoing restoration, heavily encrusted in corals and other marine life, at times rendering their forms virtually unrecognisable. A series of contemporary museum copies of the recovered artefacts are also on display, which imagine the works in their original, undamaged forms.


........... and so now to a sample of the 'rescued' art ..........


front door to Palazzo Grassi


... and in the central atrium and standing at 18.22 metres ...
is the 'unbelievably'  massive grand
( recovered from the 'shipwreck' )

Demon with Bowl
- painted resin









Severed Head of the Demon - bronze









... phew ... and after getting up close and personal with the Demon,
it was time for an eye-rest out the window
before continuing on with the rest of the exhibition
of artifacts rescued from the wreck of the "Unbelievable" ...


Eye-rest view of the Grand Canal out of third floor window ...

artist's working drawings

model of the "Unbelievable" ...

... more of the relics 'recovered' from the sea floor ...

Bust of the Collector - bronze

Goofy - bronze

detail ...

Andromeda and the Sea Monster - bronze

detail ...

Skull of Cyclops - bronze

 

The Warrior and the Bear - silver

detail ...

Sinner - silver

 
Head of Sphinx - silver

 
Head of Sphinx - back view 

Penitent - silver

Lion and Serpent - silver

Tadukheba - marble

The Severed Head of Medusa - malachite

Giant Clam Shell - painted bronze

Hathor - gold, silver & turquiose

detail ...

Unknown Pharaoh - granite, gold & white agate 

back view ...

detail ..

 


Buddha - jade

Hands in Prayer - malachite, paint & white agate

Relics form the shipwreck ...






Aspect of Katie Ishtar Yo-landi
bronze and gold leaf

Three Hermaphrodites 

bronze ...

black granite & paint ...

bronze ...

... and totally over-whelmed with Mr Hirst's 
extraordinary art, it was time to 
down the stairs and back out to the reality of Venice ...


... well that kinda puts a seal on any and all art 
that I have ever experienced ...
and a fitting climax to the Venice Biennale ...