Art institutions and foundations are essential for the growth and preservation of art and culture. These institutions serve as platforms for artists to showcase their work and for the public to engage with and appreciate the beauty and significance of art. They also offer educational programs and workshops to inspire and educate the next generation of artists and art enthusiasts. We highlight some of the most anticipated art institutions and foundations of 2023.
Bally Foundation, Lugano
The Bally Foundation has opened its new headquarters in Switzerland's Villa Heleneum with an exhibition titled "Un Lac Inconnu," which translates to "An Unknown Lake." The show takes its title from Marcel Proust's novel Time Regained, in which he refers to the subconscious as an unknown lake. The exhibition aims to evoke a meditative state in the viewer by featuring artworks that oscillate between internal narratives and physical expressions. The exhibition features works such as Petrit Halilaj and Álvaro Urbano's forsythia flowers, Hélène Muheim's delicate drawings made with eyeshadow and graphite powder, and French artist Elise Peroi's gossamer silk works on a loom that depict imaginary natural landscapes. These works invite viewers to fill in the negative spaces with their own connotations, further blurring the line between internal narratives and physical representations.
The new space features a wall-sized window with a view of the spectacular Lake Lugano, which appears to float just above the water, encircled by lush green hills. The view and a text work by artist Haim Steinbach, which reads "close your eyes," prompt conflicting impulses in the viewer, both to close their eyes and to keep looking. The effect is a meditative soft focus that the foundation's director and curator, Vittoria Matarrese, hopes to induce in viewers. The Bally Foundation's meticulously restored 1930s Villa Heleneum houses the inaugural exhibition "Un Lac Inconnu," spread across three floors and the garden. The show features artworks that blur the line between internal narratives and physical expressions, inviting viewers to explore their own connotations in the negative spaces. The villa's association with mythology is intertwined with its namesake, Hélène Bieber, who was a Parisian dancer and art patron. She was the one who commissioned the Heleneum in 1930, intending it to be modeled after the Petit Trianon of Versailles. Her aim was to create a community of interdisciplinary artists who could explore their creativity freely, much like the Monte Vérita commune located near Lake Maggiore. Unfortunately, her vision was derailed by the outbreak of World War II.
Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre, Mumbai
The Nita Ambani Mumbai Centre for the Arts (NMACC), located in the Jio World Centre in Mumbai's Bandra Kurla Complex, is considered the crown jewel of the area, boasting three state-of-the-art theaters and exhibition spaces. The building's profile, designed by Nita Ambani's daughter, Isha Ambani Piramal, features three distinct golden leaves that hold great spiritual significance in Indian culture, representing the holy trinity of Hindu Gods and the sacred syllable Om. Inside the building, traditional motifs and marble floors are displayed, and the concourses feature public art, including a stainless steel structure by Yayoi Kusama and the largest ever commissioned Pichwai paintings. The NMACC is currently hosting the exhibition "Sangam/Confluence" which highlights connections between Indian and international artists, and "India in Fashion," showcasing India's embroidery and textile heritage and its impact on global style since the 18th century. The main theatre was inaugurated with the performance "Civilisation to Nation: The Great Indian Musical," which condensed India's history into 90 minutes of dance and music performance. The NMACC's founder, Nita Ambani, considers art to be one of the strongest forms of expression in society.
The philanthropic arm of India's largest private sector company, Reliance Industries, the Reliance Foundation, established the NMACC to celebrate the cultural essence of India. The exhibition spaces, theaters, and public art installations, including the "cuff" designed by Isha Ambani Piramal, offer a platform for artists to showcase their work and for visitors to experience the cultural heritage of India. The NMACC's current exhibitions, "Sangam/Confluence" and "India in Fashion," exemplify the diverse and transcultural history of India, featuring both international and Indian artists. The NMACC is a grandiose structure modelled after Hollywood's iconic Dolby Theatre, and its design, including the large sculptural chandelier and private box silhouettes, offers a seamless blend of ancient traditions and Bollywood style. In this way, the NMACC represents a cultural hub that celebrates India's artistic heritage while providing a platform for contemporary artists to express themselves.
"Art opens the mind to new things, new ideas, it helps you embrace diversity,’ says Ambani, who also sits on the board of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. ‘We have been planning the NMACC for the last nine years and it has finally come to fruition. The intent is to showcase India’s vibrant heritage to the world and, at the same time, bring the best of international art to India."
X Museum, Beijing
The X Museum is moving to a new location in the Chaoyang District this spring. The new space, designed by architects Studio NOR, is approximately 32,000 square feet in total and will offer visitors an unparalleled museum experience. With a complete renovation of both the interior and exterior spaces, the X Museum's new location represents a significant brand upgrade for the institution. The new building features a long rectangular footprint, which the architects are responding to with a proposal for a "valley" that runs west to east and serves as the museum's main circulation path. This will be located under a massive skylight, surrounded by galleries. The museum facade will have metal frames that can host various projects and artworks, making it yet another "exhibition gallery" that will be visible from outside the building.
The inaugural exhibition, titled "X PINK 101," is scheduled to take place this May and will include international and domestic artists from the X Museum's collection, such as Nicolas Party, Christina Quarles, and Zhang Zipiao. This exhibition will trace the development of contemporary art over the past century and will feature artists ranging from the pioneering female artist Heidi Bucher in the 1920s to the leading figurative millennial artist Quarles, investigating topics such as body, gender, race, identity, and surreal landscapes. The exhibition will feature artists from over 15 countries and regions and will explore the memories of individuals and collectives, highlighting the diverse cultural patterns of our time. The museum aims to provide visitors with an unrivalled museum experience that showcases contemporary art and cultural patterns from various parts of the world. The X Museum's new location and inaugural exhibition represent a significant step forward for the institution, and it will be exciting to see how it continues to evolve and grow in the coming years.
Factory International, Manchester
Yayoi Kusama, renowned for her surreal world of dots and pumpkins, brings her largest-ever immersive environment to the soaring spaces of Factory International. Celebrating three decades of Kusama's pioneering inflatable artworks, the exhibition titled "You, Me and the Balloons" features over 10-meter-tall giant dolls, spectacular landscapes, and a vast constellation of polka-dot spheres. Journey through Kusama's psychedelic creations and feel part of something greater as she takes us beyond ourselves and asks bigger questions about human existence. Kusama's ability to conjure wonder and awe is unparalleled, and her immersive environments, such as her Infinity Mirror Rooms, have attracted millions of visitors worldwide. With a career spanning eight decades, Kusama is now a global phenomenon, and this exhibition offers a unique opportunity to experience the vastness of her playful and kaleidoscopic universe. Don't miss the chance to be transported up and away by Yayoi Kusama's extraordinary imagination.