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Jiri Georg Dokoupil Pushes The Boundaries Of Craft With His First-ever Large Glass Sculptures In The Solo Exhibition ‘venetian Bubbles’

Introducing new site-specific works at the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, Museo Correr in Venice, the exhibition marks the evolution of the artist’s renowned Soap Bubble Paintings into three-dimensional form.

Opening Preview: June 21, 2024, 5 P.M

On View: June 22 – August 18, 2024

venetian Bubbles

Globally acclaimed artist Jiří Georg Dokoupil inaugurates a new phase of his versatile and experimental artistic practice in his upcoming solo exhibition 'Venetian Bubbles'. Curated by Reiner Opoku and supported by the Association for Art in Public, the exhibition will be on view from June 22 – August 18, 2024, at the Sale Monumentali of the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana of Museo Correr, Venice. The artist will unveil eight of his first-ever large sculptural works in glass, seven large-scale paintings, and a series of works on paper. Set in a space adorned by historical Renaissance painters like Veronese, Titian, Tintoretto and Zelotti, this contemporary intervention reflects the artist’s liberated exploration of materials and techniques, revealing new approaches to glassmaking with freedom, play and humor, while capturing the ephemerality of existence.

Dokoupil’s new glass sculptures are an extension of the artist’s renowned Soap Bubble Paintings – their temporal element is now expressed in a three-dimensional space, narrowing the distance between the viewers and the subtleties of his practice. Seven metal bottle racks (80 – 200 centimeters tall) are adorned with glass bubbles of various bright hues. The artist names them ‘Homemade Venetian Bubbles’, honoring their national origin from various manufacturers and master craftsmen in crystal glass from the Bohemia region, Czech Republic. Playfully reframing ordinary objects into an artistic context, Dokoupil challenges traditional ways of utilizing materials, instructing the glassmakers to explore new creative dynamics in the sculptural process, consequently disrupting both the artists' established techniques and the expectations associated with craftsmanship. The glass bubbles hanging on female-shaped bottle racks bring forth a striking juxtaposition between fragility and strength, underscoring recurring existential themes of transience and permanence in Dokoupil’s oeuvre. Captured and conserved at the peak of their existence, the bubble sculptures uncover layers of complexity and nuance in their form, texture, and spatial presence, that are inherent in both the artist’s practice and his reflection on the human condition.

venetian Bubbles

Among the highlights of the exhibition is ‘Open Bubbles Condensation Cube,’ a nod to Dokoupil’s former teacher Hans Haake’s ‘Condensation Cube’ (1963/68), which encapsulates glass bubbles within a box filled with condensed water. The work embodies Dokoupil’s approach of incorporating the environment and viewer into the art itself, mimicking a living system within the artwork.

A key figure in the 'Neue Wilde' movement in Germany and known for his unconventional experimentations in the global art scene, Dokoupil has never been confined to a specific genre or style. Instead, he transcends traditional practices, using unusual materials such as whip marks, candle soot, or fruit, and soap bubbles, demonstrating a multiplicity of approaches to painting and a body of work that defies categorization. In ‘Venetian Bubbles,’ Dokoupil presents seven large-scale paintings (ranging from 200 x 400 centimeters) depicting colored soap bubbles. Since the late 1970s, the artist has been exploring the subtleties of his technique, mixing soap-lye with pigments, and blowing bubbles onto a canvas coated with paint, guiding their burst to leave intricate organic imprints. These unpredictable patterns evoke a sense of spontaneity that challenges the control of the artist and the notion of permanence often found in the painting practice. Dokoupil simultaneously reflects on deeper themes of the human condition – the breath used to conceive the bubbles, evokes the fugacity of existence, while their imprints on the canvas reveal textures of the ephemeral.

venetian Bubbles

‘Venetian Bubbles,’ is an evolution of Jiří Georg Dokoupil’s multifaceted artistic practice – a liberated exploration of techniques and materials to express a narrative intertwining the playful with the profound. As delicate bubbles are transformed into timeless expressions of artistic ingenuity, Dokoupil's work reflects his enduring pursuit of innovation, challenging the boundaries of artistic mediums through themes of impermanence and transformation.

Dirk Geuer, this year’s chief curator for all Marciana’s art exhibitions hosted in parallel to the Biennale Arte 2024, brings another established international artist to Venice. “The juxtaposition of Dokoupil’s works of art with Renaissance paintings in such an historically significant location opens a dialogue between new and old masters”.

venetian Bubbles