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'Trees Grow from the Sky'Collateral Event of the 59th International Art Exhibition...

... La Biennale di Venezia

The exhibition, an official collateral event of la Biennale di Venezia 2022, presents a large-scale site-specific installation of glass sculptures in the historic Chiesa di Santa Maria della Visitazione. Conceived especially for the 59th International Art Exhibition, it marks the global premiere of Vitrum Vivum, a new revolutionary full relief glass casting technology – coinciding with the 2022 International Year of Glass.

La Biennale Preview Days |April 20 – 22

23 April to 27 November 2022

The House of Art Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic is proud to announce Rony Plesl’s exhibition Trees Grow from the Sky, an official collateral event of the 59th La Biennale di Venezia, on view from April 23 - November 27, 2022.

Created by Czech artist and sculptor Rony Plesl, the site-specific installation will unveil four large-scale glass sculptures in the Chiesa di Santa Maria della Visitazione in the Dorsoduro district with views of the Giudecca Canal. They are developed using an unprecedented and unique glass casting technology, allowing the creation of grand glass sculptures without any limitations. Curated by Lucie Drdova, Prague-based art historian, gallerist, and author, the exhibition coincides with the 2022 International Year of Glass as proclaimed by the United Nations – and thus presents a timely artistic and technological exploration of the material.

Plesl has been exploring the possibilities of the materiality of glass and glass sculpture for more than four decades. His sources of inspiration are deeply rooted in his fascination with geometry, the intimacy of the Italian Renaissance, and the architectural opulence of the Baroque. At the beginning of his career, he spent several formative years in Venice on the island of Murano, studying the material and learning the craft from Italian master glassmakers. In collaboration with glass professionals, he started to shift the perspective of glassmaking and its possibilities within contemporary art and for his own body of work.

As an expansion of the master craftsmen that follow Czech Republic’s centuries-old traditional crystal production, hailing from the regions of Bohemia since the late 16th century, distinguished for the quality and beauty that has come to characterize its ateliers, and the techniques passed on by them, the Vitrum Vivum glassmaking technology further revolutionizes this craft. The unique process consists in casting glass as if it were bronze, giving the artist complete artistic freedom over the creative process that can begin with models made of paper, plaster or even objects found in nature, which in the end become artefacts themselves. Developed over the last 12 years by Jiri Sin, Czech glass master and inventor, the Vitrum Vivum technology reveals a world of possibilities in the glassmaking field. Plesl’s Trees Grow from the Sky marks the world premiere of sculptures of this scale using this new groundbreaking full relief glass casting technology.

The installation concept was created by contemporary Czech architect Josef Pleskot and follows the proportions of the Renaissance architectural canon of symmetry and perspective. Four glass monoliths dominate the nave of the early Cinquecento church. Three pure crystal glass sculptures (600 kg and 205 x 75 cm each), characterized by the real imprint of an 80-year-old oak tree found in the woods of Northern Bohemia, are erected vertically in the centre of the space and mirror the rhythm of the columns of the church altars. The perfection of their bark is accentuated by the haptic character of the material, while the luminous and translucent surface invites the viewer to look inside, it encourages the interpretation of an imaginary journey -- exploring the true essence of things. The crystal larger-than-life trunks also allude to the symbolics of the number three and to the Franciscan thesis of complementarity of nature and man. The fourth tree, located near the altar, symbolizes a spiritual and transcendent message of transformation delivered through an actual metamorphosis of the tree's bark into a human figure. Made of uranium glass and covered with a bas-relief of the bodies of Jesus Christ, it illuminates the space with a mysterious, revelatory light. This radioactive uranium technique was discovered in Bohemia during the Baroque period and gives the glass an incredible subterranean phosphorescent glow in a bright yellow-green color.

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue with essays by curator Lucie Drdova, Michal Skoda, artist and director of the House of Art Ceske Budejovice, and Petr Borkovec, poet, translator and journalist. The catalogue will be published in Czech, English and Italian.


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