Palazzo pretty: Danish design studio Frama exhibits its first artist in residence

Installations, paintings and sculptures in a room
Danish artist Leonardo Anker Vandal's installations, paintings, sculptures and photographs bring iron, canvas, wood and glass to the marble and plaster of Palazzo Monti
(Image credit: press)

They appear, initially, at visual odds: a 13th-century Italian palazzo coated in trompe l'oeil frescoes and a contemporary Danish designer of austere, utilitarian furniture. But each shares an appreciation for the other's point of view – classical, analogue approaches to design versus the embrace of contemporary aesthetics. And as with many marriages of opposites, they create a harmonious whole.

When Frama, the back-to-basics Copenhagen-based manufacturer launched its first artist-in-residence programme, it chose as its 'incubator' the historic Palazzo Monti as an ornate counterpoint to the task at hand. Located in the city of Brescia, halfway between Milan and Verona, the Baroque villa would capture the imagination of a new generation of artists and create a dialogue between the past, present and future. 'The palazzo is richly detailed and has grand rooms,' says Frama founder Niels Stroyer Christophersen, 'but its current facilities are very spartan, with only the most essential functions, such as basic bathrooms with naked-bulb lighting. For us, this combined with a low-tech kitchen is something that doesn't interfere with creative thoughts.'

Danish artist Leonardo Anker Vandal is the inaugural resident of this new generation. And true to the mission, he's unveiled nearly 20 pieces of art and design inspired by northern Italy, and the mystery, wonder and melancholy of traditional beauty. He's called the exhibition 'Negative Capability', 'a term,' he says, 'to describe beauty as a perception, experienced through the emotions and senses.'

Beige colored room with a circle shaped mirror on-top of a fire place

Frama's industrial wares on view at Palazzo Monti

(Image credit: press)

His installations, paintings, sculptures and photographs bring iron, canvas, wood and glass to the marble and plaster of the villa. A smoked mirror set in an iron disc and encased in antique handmade Barbini Murano glass evokes Saturn  – 'the planet of melancholy' – and its rings. It's joined by iron-framed faux windows, mounted to the wall and 'shaded' with canvas and lead-coated twill. A ten-metre length of natural silk hangs from the ceiling like a hammock, holding an acid-treated iron sphere that weighs it down into the shape of a teardrop. The accompanying text quotes Rimbaud: 'In hour of bitterness I imagine sapphire balls and metal balls, I'm the lord of silence.''

In a room whose ceiling is fresco'd to within an inch of its life, Vandal has installed a great iron arbor in the shape of a metal birdcage – part of a 'secret garden' adorned with real reeds. And in the next he's placed two acid-treated wire cabinets, one filled with hand-written love letters, the other with a single black bird's feather threaded through the wire.

The colouring is appropriately neutral and spare, embracing the natural copper and bleached-wood tones favoured by Frama and the marble, ivory and terracottas used by the classical Italians. Aesthetically it is a genre of itself.

Hallway and room decorated with minimalist furniture

Frama filled the historic Palazzo Monti with their minimalist furniture before inviting Vandal as the inaugural artist in residence

(Image credit: press)

Natural silk hangs from the ceiling like a hammock, holding an acid-treated iron sphere that weighs it down into the shape of a teardrop

A ten-metre length of natural silk hangs from the ceiling like a hammock, holding an acid-treated iron sphere that weighs it down into the shape of a teardrop

(Image credit: press)

Acid-treated wire cabinets filled with white hand-written papers

Vandal has installed acid-treated wire cabinets, one filled with his own hand-written love letters

(Image credit: press)

Iron arbor in the shape of a metal birdcage and a wooden table with chairs topped with décor

Left, Frama's own pieces installed at the Palazzo. Right, great iron arbor in the shape of a metal birdcage – part of a 'secret garden' adorned with real reeds

(Image credit: press)

Minimalistic furniture and objects standing in a room

The show is titled 'Negative Capability', 'a term,' Vandal says, 'to describe beauty as a perception, experienced through the emotions and senses'

(Image credit: press)

INFORMATION

’Negative Capability’ runs until 1 August, 2017. For more information visit the Frama website (opens in new tab)

ADDRESS

Palazzo Monti
Piazza Tebaldo Brusato, 22
25121
Brescia BS, Italy

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