The ‘Vanitas’ exhibition will open at the IU Grunwald gallery this Friday

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The Grunwald gallery will present the exhibition of the Italian artist Andrea Ventura, “Vanity,” Friday.

The exhibition, which will open with a 5:00 p.m. talk by Ventura and Tim Kennedy, senior lecturer at the Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture and Design, will be followed by a reception from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. . “Vanitas” features both illustrative portraits of Ventura’s work for magazine publications, as well as thematic paintings and collages of his studio work.

The gallery will be open Tuesday through Saturday from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. and is free to all visitors.

Ventura is currently based in Berlin, but was raised in Milan, Italy by his father, who illustrated children’s books. Ventura said he was immersed in drawing from an early age due to the environment he grew up in.

“I was just doing it as a game, just to play,” Ventura said. “But I think in a way that has never changed. I feel like I’m still playing. »

Ventura’s playful artistic style is visible in his exhibition – his portrait subjects are surrounded by saturated, luminous hues. His “Vanitas” paintings combine realistic and human forms with unexpected shapes and colors.

“I worked a lot with colors and tried to create something that goes a little beyond realism, something that gives the impression of a dream or a miracle in the work,” Ventura said.

The traditional definition of “Vanitas” refers to art that encourages the viewer to reflect on their life and mortality. Ventura said his work was not purely intended to do this and was instead a combination of autobiographical and historically inspired pieces. He said he was inspired by elements of his family life, war and human emotions like apathy and catharsis.

“I’ve always wanted to represent the human figure not just as a portrait, but in a larger context,” Ventura said.

He said it was difficult for him to identify a single source of influence on his work. Ventura said he was inspired by his family, as well as other artists and art movements, including Conceptual artists and Italian painters of the 1960s. He said he thinks artists often draw elements of others’ style for their own work.

“We’re still flying,” Ventura said. “You kind of have to eat it, and you digest it and hopefully do something else with it – that’s kind of the best.”

Ventura’s exhibition portraits have covered many prestigious international publications, including Italian Vogue, The New Yorker, La Republica and others. His magazine work – a series of commissioned portraits of historical figures and celebrities such as Ulysses S. Grant, Twig Where Kaia Gerber – is what initially brought him to IU.

Ventura said Kennedy bonded with Ventura during a trip to Berlin after seeing his work in the 2017 New York Times Book Review. Kennedy brought Ventura’s work to the gallery’s attention and the invited to be a guest artist at the Collins Living and Learning Center for Spring 2022.

Grunwald Gallery director Betsy Stirratt said she finds Ventura’s unique style and non-traditional artistic background particularly compelling. She said she encourages students to learn more about Ventura and her work when it opens.

She said that although most people see artwork on screens today, Ventura’s work is worth seeing in person.

“These are beautiful pieces because they’re not just illustrative,” Stirratt said. “They have abstract parts for them.”

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