Joan Jonas – draw on the wind – Raffaella Cortese Gallery Milan – february 17 – may 18, 2023 – opening on february 16.

Galleria Raffaella Cortese presents three solo exhibitions by renowned American artists Simone Forti, Joan Jonas, and Kiki Smith, opening on February 16, 2023. Each of their decades-long practices of experimentation across different media can be united through their common interests in and study of the human body, the animal kingdom, and movement as a vital force. Animals in particular have inspired a number of Simone Forti’s works across photographs, drawings, and performances since the late 1960s; they have made appearances in nearly all of Joan Jonas’ multimedia installations and have been the subject of countless drawings of hers; and finally, cats and pigeons are the main protagonists of the sculptures and drawings exhibited as part of Kiki Smith’s latest show at the gallery.

Joan Jonas is a founding figure of performance, video, and installation who has relentlessly pushed the boundaries of contemporary art in over five decades of artistic practice. For her third solo exhibition with Galleria Raffaella Cortese, Jonas presents Draw on the wind in the space at via A. Stradella 1. This large installation of colorful kites premiered at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh as part of the 57th Carnegie International (2018) and is shown at the gallery for the first time in Italy.

The installation, which gently moves as visitors walk under it, is made up of a vast number of kites realized in 2018. Jonas conceived the work during a trip to Hanoi, adding her own cut-out shapes to the hanging forms which were handmade in Vietnam from bamboo and Dó paper in the shape of animals and fairies from Jarai and Viet folklore. Kites and other paper sculptures have made appearances in several of the artist’s previous works, most notably in the installation Stream or River, Flight or Pattern (2016–17) which Jonas assembled using video footage recorded through her travels, drawings of birds, and kites hanging from the ceiling; a third set of kites was used for Joan’s exhibition They Come to Us without a Word, the U.S. Pavilion at the 2015 Venice Biennale.

In the artist’s oeuvre, which draws upon a range of sources, from fairy tales to essays, from myths to local folklore, these materials find new relationships to contemporary life, both poetically and politically. Jonas’ video works often evolve from performative gestures to complex, layered multimedia installations; the artist’s works are continually building upon previous ones. Since her earliest actions in her first film, Wind (1968), the presence of natural elements and animals represents a throughline in Jonas’ practice. After capturing their movement on video and tracing their typologies in her drawing practice, with Draw on the wind Jonas intervenes in the gallery space by installing abstract, colorful, weightless shapes, free to move around.

Joan Jonas’ survey show organized in collaboration with Tate Modern is currently on view at Haus der Kunst, Munich, through February 26, 2023. A large-scale retrospective dedicated to Jonas will open at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, in Spring 2024.

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