A Playground of Art

Contemporary art can take on so many forms. Today artists have the ability to use multiple platforms to create an art experience that is not only engaging but can be a complete immersion. During my most recent artist date, I had the joy of visiting the show Enjoy at Chiostro del Bramante with one of my favorite art-watching companions: my son. We invited our friends, too – a family of 4 with both children under 7. This exhibit was the perfect destination for an art playdate – even its audio guides used humor and lightness to describe the works on display.

Immersed in Martin Creed’s balloon installation with about 5 other people, taking this selfie was harder than it looks.

Walking through the exhibit it was clear right away that this was not just another arena for artists to showcase their talent, it was a playground of talent. Using technology, intensely beautiful artistic talent, along with a streak of mischievnous, the exhibit inspires a multi-dimensional feeling of childlike wonder. When children relate to Tony Oursler’s contemporary video sculpture, or analyze the light sculpture Prisma meccanico (1967) by Piero Fogliati, the work evidently transcends the mental realm and immerses the whole state of being.

“Illusion is a transparency that misshapes reality, it’s a semblance in which everything is possible, suggesting either the doubt of a riddle or the smile of a surprise,” wrote the show’s curator Danilo Eccher.

The Martin Creed-designed experience – a room filled to the edge with red balloons with limited entry  – immerses you in both wonder and anxiety; while the whirling, strobe-produced animation in The Centrifugal Soul by Mat Collishaw provided a hypnotic meditation.

Hans Op de Beeck, After the Gathering

Another highlight, and my son’s favorite part, was an alluring labyrinth of mirrors – and not-mirrors – by Leandro Erlich (Charming Rooms). Identically framed mirrors and windowless portals created an indiscernible maze, where one was never 100% sure of which direction to turn. Watching Ludovico and his friend climb through portals, zip past their reflections and do double-takes as they zigzagged around and back was dizzying in astonishment and fun. A game? An altered state? A play on perception? The show pokes at your assumptions.

Of all the installations in the exhibit, I was floored the most by an innovative video painting by Team Lab. Using a responsive video installation, breathing and blooming flowers and vibrant colors changed according to the presence of people and their proximity to the screen. Each motion before this panoramic floral universe created a new landscape, drawing the viewer inevitably into the life cycles of the flowers. The beauty was mesmerizing, watching the bursts of petals, buds and shoots undulate on the dark background,  all while wondering, who is the true observer here?

Enjoy was an exhibit that fed the soul – and yet could also be experienced superficially. Each video, maze, installation, and more left all of us yearning for more of it – art, surprise, color. Having the ability to create a show in which both adults and children alike can feel carefree is a rare and ingenious moment. After all, we all deserve a reminder to question rigidity and conformity in our daily lives. Bravo, Chiostro del Bramante!

My artist (play)date companion in the Mickey chair by Studio 65.