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  • Jan 31, 2024

Solo Showcases in Venice for Leading Chinese Painter and Iconic Indian Modernist

Left: YU HONG, Make a Wish, 2023, acrylic on canvas, 340 × 140 cm. Courtesy Lisson Gallery, London/Shanghai. Right: Portrait of MF HUSAIN c. 1970, gelatin silver print on paper, 58 × 40 cm. Photo by Richard Bartholomew. Courtesy Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi.

Two museums have announced they will stage solo exhibitions of seminal artistic figures during the run of the 60th edition of the Venice Biennale from April 20 until November 24, 2024. The Asian Art Initiative of the Guggenheim Museum will present a showcase of Chinese painter Yu Hong titled “Another One Bites the Dust.” The New Delhi-based Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA) will mount a solo showcase of Indian modernist Maqbool Fida (MF) Husain, “The Rooted Nomad,” also in parallel to the Biennale.

“Another One Bites the Dust” will be Yu’s first major European exhibition and is curated by Alexandra Munroe, the senior curator at large of the Guggenheim Museum and Foundation. The exhibition will be held at the Chiesetta della Misericordia, in Venice’s Cannaregio district. The title references the seminal British rock band Queen’s 1980 ballad and reflects the theme of Hong’s presentation of new site-specific figurative and narrative paintings depicting the inevitability of human existence—birth, life, and death—in both real and fantastical imagery. Using imagery found on social media of people in real and simulated situations of danger, Hong’s artworks depict people writhing in anguish. Amplified by religious edifices from the Byzantine and Italian Baroque eras in the exhibition's venue, Yu’s works upend the epic themes of sacred art to forge a “supernatural realism.” The artist’s portrayal of mundane lives tainted by existential terror reflects her observations on the massive social changes brought by China’s rapid globalization and the uncertainty of meaning in the trajectory of unavoidable calamities.

“The Rooted Nomad” will mark the first immersive exhibition of the late Indian painter MF Husain (1915– 2011), featuring projections of Husain’s works. Curated by KNMA director and chief curator Roobina Karode, the show will take place at the Magazzini del Sale, in the Dorsoduro. The show highlights the influential career of India’s most renowned modernist across paintings, photographs, films, collages, wooden toys, letters, and poetry. Karode stated: “[Husain’s] itinerant imagination wandered the world only with an undying desire to return, living the later years of his life with the predicament of being estranged from his own land. He experienced life both as an insider and a foreigner at the same time, and in the same place that he could never detach himself from.”

The organizer of the official China Pavilion, the China Arts and Entertainment Group, has not yet released information about its presentation at the Venice Biennale. The world’s largest country in terms of population, India will not participate at the Biennale once again; its participation in the 58th Venice Biennale in 2019 was organized by the KNMA.

The 60th Venice Biennale runs from April 20 to November 24, 2024.

Camilla Alvarez-Chow is an editorial assistant at ArtAsiaPacifc.

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