Tina Gillen represents the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg at the 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia with Faraway So Close. The exhibition, for which the artist is producing a new series of large-scale works, takes the form of an expansive painterly installation in the Luxembourg Pavilion, located within the historic premises of the Sale d’Armi in Venice’s Arsenale. In Faraway So Close, Gillen directs her attention to the connections between the interior space and the outside world.
Concerned primarily with the medium of painting, the work of Tina Gillen examines how we relate to the world around us, namely through the themes of landscape and dwelling. Her paintings often originate in photographic images that she modifies, simplifies, pictorially ‘translates’, and pairs with other elements to arrive at compositions that purposefully nurture a certain ambiguity, somewhere between abstraction and figuration, construction and improvisation, the surface of the canvas and the translation of a space.
Faraway So Close is an ambitious painting installation made especially for the Luxembourg Pavilion. Conceived in response to the history of the space as a military storage, it brings together large-scale paintings in a scenographic treatment inspired by painted film backdrops, ‘as if the paintings were only there temporarily, waiting to be moved again, rearranged.’
The exhibition is an extension of Gillen’s recent pictorial research on the representation of natural phenomena that elude our control such as meteorological events, rising sea levels and volcanic activity. Collectively, the paintings evoke the four elements that were historically associated with the constitution of the universe – earth, water, fire and air –, as well as the ‘uncertain landscapes’ (Marielle Macé) marked by climate and environmental changes brought by human activities.
At the heart of the installation is a sculptural component titled Rifugio (2022), whose shape was inspired by a seaside bungalow the artist discovered on the Côte d’Opale in northern France and painted in a previous work on paper. When transposed to the exhibition space and placed in relation with the paintings, this form becomes a polysemic space to the artist, acting both as a place for withdrawal and a gateway into the world, as a shelter and as a space beset by an abundance of information. Faraway So Close speaks to the complexity of the relationships that exist between interior spaces and the outside world, between proximity and distance.
Arsenale, Sale d’Armi, Venice
Ministry of Culture, Luxembourg
Mudam Luxembourg – Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean
With the support of:
Let's make it happen and Kultur | lx – Arts Council Luxembourg
Christophe Gallois, assisted by Ilaria Fagone
Tina Gillen in collaboration with Polaris Architects