Romanian Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale
Artists: Adrian Ghenie
Curator: Mihai Pop
Commissioner: Monica Morariu
Deputy Commissioner: Alexandru Damian
Venue: Pavilion at Giardini
Pavilions in Venice aren’t typically the friendliest environments to painting. As if in opposition to canvas-filled art fair aisles and gallery cubes, Venice is the domain of monumental installations and new media spectaculars. But, then again, Adrian Ghenie isn’t exactly a painter afraid of bucking convention. For his second Venice appearance—the gallery he co-founded, PlanB, commissioned Romania’s 2007 pavilion—Ghenie delves into the character of Charles Darwin and the development and subsequent 20th century perversions of his crowning hypothesis, evolution. The three-part exhibition spans multiple years of Ghenie’s recent output, including a series of self portraits the artist created as Darwin. In his paintings, the artist strips major historical figures of their gravitas (often by throwing a pie directly into their face) and in turn, history’s own usability as a defining and guiding narrative.