Casanova’s island becomes a haven for art this year. Visitors to the iconic Belmond Cipriani in Venice are in for a treat as the luxurious hotel turns its historic gardens into a unique open-air art gallery to celebrate the 58th Venice Biennale.
The unassuming yet highly picturesque Giudecca Island was once the hunting grounds of Italy’s most prolific lovers. Now, it is the setting of the very exclusive and internationally acclaimed Belmond Cipriani. And it is amongst these romantic environs that the island-hotel is opening its elegant restaurants and extensive gardens to showcase a selection of celebrated artwork by world-renowned sculptors and artists. Given the rich diversity of the art on display, it’s clear that this oasis for art lovers encapsulates the theme of the Biennale: ‘May You Live in Interesting Times’.
And interesting times they are, indeed. Especially in the Casanova Gardens where famous artists Roberto and Rodolfo Guarnieri will conduct alfresco art classes for guests at the hotel. These group or individual sessions will teach participants ancient painting techniques with a modern sensibility. This is quite the treat, considering the exalted status enjoyed by the Guarnieri brothers in art circles around the world. In fact, one of their stunning masterpieces, the sailing-inspired “Dreams of Regatta”, greets guests at the first point of embarkation onto the property.
The curated experience at the Cipriani is completely immersive, thanks to several sculptures and paintings that have been displayed in and around the hotel. These include artwork by Igor Mitoraj, Pablo Atchugarry, Julio Larraz and Enzo Fiore — four prominent artists whose works are part of the Contini Gallery, a highly reputed Venetian collection of galleries. The idea behind this spread-out arrangement is to inspire conversation and creative debate across every nook and corner of the property.
And so, the two huge canvases by Enzo Fiore, placed on either side of the library just off the lobby, express two perspectives of the Grand Canal. Made using natural materials such as moss, leaves, roots, cement, stones and insects, the paintings bring an evocative realism to the scenes.
Guests entering the Michelin-starred Oro restaurant will be greeted by the “Flower Storm, over Sappho’s House”, a canvas by Julio Larraz, which references Surrealism and the Spanish painting techniques of the 17th century. The eyes of the diners here may also be drawn to the lagoon outside and the strategically perched Ikaria, a striking two-winged bronze sculpture by Mitoraj.
This affair with air continues beyond the walls of the Belmond Cipriani, as well. The Guidecca Art District — founded by curators Pier Paolo Scelsi and Valentina Gioia Levy — sprawls across the island, showcasing a range of contemporary works by several artists. Guests can take a stroll down the many streets and explore the projects, exhibitions and events planned around the theme: ‘Take care of your garden. Cultivating a new humanism’. Over 60 artists, including Yoko Ono, Kendell Geers, Kazuko Miyamoto and Moataz Nasr — will display their work here through 20 exhibitions.
All the artwork on display at the Belmond Cipriani can be purchased; prices are available on request.