Chiara Dynys returns to Villa Panza with four site-specific installations which retrace her artistic career and revisit her recurrent themes: colors, light, the meaning of anomaly and thresholds
Sudden Time at Villa Panza
Villa Panza re-opens its gates to the public with Sudden Time, an exhibition curated by Anna Bernardini and Giorgio Verzotti, and dedicated to Chiara Dynys and Sean Shanahan who present eight installations made between 2018 and 2021. The works displayed explore the decades-long careers and artistic research of the artists, appreciated by the Italian collector Giuseppe Panza di Biumo. The Italian collector was one of the first to acknowledge the work of Dynys and to push her to investigate and refine her use of color, light and space which, at the end of Nineties, resulted in the production of Glitter Gates, a perspective room changing color every four seconds, which later entered Panza’s collection.
Chiara Dynys’ deception game
More recently, Dynys had the opportunity to further investigate the relationship between space and light in occasion of her solo exhibition at the Mattatoio museum in Rome, a former slaughterhouse, in 2019 where she projected the video Sunrise Only Sunrises, a virtual three-dimensional reconstruction of the space displaying a succession of empty rooms which followed the solar spectrum. Throughout her career, Dynys has been fascinated by the presence of anomalies, variants and ‘thresholds’ allowing the mind of the viewer to escape our reality and enter quasi-metaphysical scenarios. Through what Verzotti calls ‘color-light’ – which refers to her ability to create shapes, scenarios and environments exploiting the properties and nuances of light – Dynys fits into conceptualism and modernism without fully adhering to any specific artistic movement. «After the Eighties, characterized by more conventional artistic movements, such as Transavantgarde and Postmodernism, art returns to be a place for experimentations, at times radical, and Chiara is among those artists who recovered all the anti-traditional values of the previous decades» says Verzotti about Dynys’ artistic research. The almost impossible categorization of her work led Verzotti, who supported and professionally accompanied Dynys since the beginning of her career, to coin a definition capable of capturing the essence of Dynys’ approach: the deception game, which finds fulfillment in her use of materials.
Lampoon reviews Chiara Dynys’ work
Dynys’ material research, which is connected to the meaning of her work and dates back to the Eighties, is at the base of most of her works where shapes and objects, apparently identical, are actually made of several different materials, not immediately recognizable and often left out of the artistic discourse: «I employ and mix unconventional materials in order to stimulate a ‘perceptive shock’ in the viewer and convey a sort of mystery to my works». On her approach to material research and artistic production Verzotti stated that: «I see in her work and in the exploitation of artifices a pursuit of what is authentic and what is not, according to the Greek dual logic of the pharmakon, which is poisoning and healing at the same time». According to the curator, Dynys’ work depicts the so called ‘visual trap’: people’s experience of reality is never direct, on the contrary it is alienated and biased by external influences, such as culture, ideology and media. «Artists overcome alienation through direct experience and in the case of Chiara Dynys, her longing for firsthand experience resulted in long journeys in Middle East countries, such as Lebanon and other locations of war, which led her to create micro artistic narratives» says Verzotti about the political vein of Dynys’ work. Her photographic work in the Lebanese refugee camps, forty years after the Sabra and Shatila massacre, resulted in 2019 in an exhibition at Museo Correr in Venice. Surrounded by a sacred atmosphere, the pictures embedded in golden frames similar to tabernacles, told childhood stories from which the kids’ joy of living emerged despite their difficult living conditions. In the center of the room, a large installation with a crystal case, crossed by the gold writing ‘There is nothing outside’, inspired by the philosophy of St. Augustine, became a paradigm of the threshold which separates the inside from the outside referring to the inner integrity which characterizes childhood.
Chiara Dynys’ works in the exhibition Sudden Time
Dynys’ fascination with the concept of thresholds and passages, combined with the ‘color-light’ and the employment of unusual materials are the core topics of the installations designed for Sudden Time. The name of the exhibition refers to the title of a symphony composed by George Benjamin in 1993 and taken up by the poet Wallace Steven. While for artists the ‘sudden time’ coincides with the unexpected moments of epiphany which lead to artistic creation, Verzotti believes that also viewers can live their own ‘sudden time’: «The moment in which the truth of the artwork is revealed for the first time, when the viewer confronts and perceives it in a direct frontal relationship». In line with the topics which characterized the artistic production of Dynys’ since the beginning of her career, the four artworks aim at creating a sense of disorientation in the mind of the observer. Inside Scuderia Piccola, the small stable, the curators have placed Camini delle fate (Fairies’ chimneys, 2020-21): a site-specific installation composed of thirty-four Murano glasses in different colors and sizes with golden leaves in the center, embedded in a big black board. The colorful windows, like small passages through the darkness, recall the Cappadocian caves carved into the rock and inhabited by hermits and anchorites in the Eleventh century. «In Camini delle fate the passages, the so-called thresholds, are represented by the golden leaves, where gold becomes a metaphor for infinite» Dynys claims. The second artwork, Giuseppe’s Door (2020-21), in honor of the Italian collector and former owner of Villa Panza, is located in the first carriages depot and made of a fusion of opalescent Murano glass by Bottega Berengo. The sculpture, placed on a base with rounded corners, changes color according to the light source coming from the ceiling, which creates a rhythmically different luminous halo around it. The square glass arch, slightly inclined, is inspired by a recurrent theme in Dynys’ work: shapes and structures which cannot be traced back to definite geometric forms and in which it is impossible to detect a clear center. These elements can be found in La vie en rose (1990), one of her first artworks in which geometric structures, vanishing points and thresholds create an alienating effect.
Art as an invitation to meditation and introspection
On the walls of the second carriages depot is projected Melancholia (2020-21), defined by three colorful circles slowly overlapped by three black opaque circles of the same size. While the colors filling the environment change from orange to pink, and from purple to black, the viewers observe a sort of lunar eclipse where the darkness and the brightness of the two overlapping circles are put in contrast and interfere with the perception of the spaces. As in the homonymous film by Lars Von Trier, the collision between the two planets becomes a metaphor for an inevitable fate. «These rooms are filled with an invitation to meditation and introspection» the curator says. Lastly, the gardens of the villa host a big-size reproduction of Giuseppe’s Door, made of opalescent Murano glass plates and Corten steel brackets and supported by steel internal structures. Thanks to the photosensitive property of the material, the installation captures the sunlight during the day and returns it at night becoming a fluorescent «phantasmatic» construction silhouetted against the darkness and the historical center of the city of Varese. The rapid oxidation process of the Corten steel brackets seems to be there to remind people about the mystery of passing times and the changes it carries along. The idea of retracing, through the exhibition, part of her artistic career stemmed not only from an express intention to revisit most of her recurrent themes, but also from what Dynys calls a «natural instinct». «From “Camini delle fate” to the giant “Giuseppe’s Door”, Sudden Time is an exhibition on apparitions. Some shapes, forms and themes of my past artistic rsearch recur in these artworks, but the novelty is that the works exhibited have been retrieved from the archetypes of my metaphors and turned this time into phantoms and apparitions. In Sudden Time the threshold I refer to has become a threshold of the soul, different for everybody, and through these installations I invite people to cross the border between our reality and a parallel world which constitutes a synthesis of my topics and artistic languages».
Chiara Dynys artist
Chiara Dynys is an artist, dedicated both to conceptual experiences and to painting and sculpture. Her activity is marked by a speculation on the meaning of anomaly and the limit between the human reality and the metaphysical scenario. She has participated in numerous personal and collective exhibitions in important museums and public and private cultural institutions, both in Italy and abroad, such as Casamadre Arte Contemporanea, Naples, Museo Correr, Venice, and LAC, Lugano.