I have to admit that the Palazzo Fortuny is one of my favourite palazzi in Venice, its grand facade hiding the decaying interiors bursting to overflowing on the main floors with the personal collections of a family who never seemed to have thrown anything away. This is a home in which you can feel comfortable and relate to the identity of the owners, who you feel may well walk in at any time.
Of course, it helps that Fortuny established and owned an exclusive and successful company producing silk and velvet fabrics – here you can see the artistic links between the family’s interests and the designs of the company.
Within the decaying walls of the palazzo, along with an exhibition on Fortuny, his family and their interests in fashion and theatre, there is, concurrently with the Biennale, an exhibition of work by the Korean artist Yun Hyong-keun (1928-2007).
On show we have two very contrasting sides of life – one of wealth, fashion and society in Venice; the other of hardship, imprisonment and near-death in Korea of the 1940′s to 1970′s, such that Hyong-keun could only commit himself to art in 1973 when he was 45 years old.
His work is characterised by shades of two colours creating black- blue and umber -, representing heaven and earth, his works being described as the ‘gate of heaven and earth’ and he achieved international acclaim, but his dark sombre works on show against the decaying brickwork and plaster walls perhaps have a basis in Korean culture and perhaps in the difficulties of his early life. These are works of contemplation and of thoughtfulness:
“I spent my youth – my twenties – living in a nightmare, even though your twenties are supposed to be great, no matter who you are. Maybe that’s why the warm and delicate colors quickly disappeared from my works, replaced by dark and heavy colours’. (Yun Hyong-keun 1968)