A CONTEMPORARY ART GALLERY IN THE HEART OF TUSCANY
Galleria Continua opened in San Gimignano (Italy) in 1990, the result of the initiative of three friends: Mario Cristiani, Lorenzo Fiaschi and Maurizio Rigillo. Occupying a former cinema, Galleria Continua established itself and thrived in an entirely unexpected location, away from the big cities and the ultramodern urban centres, in a town – San Gimignano – steeped in history, timeless, magnifi cent. This choice of location provided scope for the development of new forms of dialogue and symbiosis between unexpected geographies: rural and industrial, local and global, art from the past and the art of today, famous artists and emerging ones. The gallery’s presence in an area that is in a certain sense “forgotten” but which has a spirit and significant history of its own, has enabled it to create a reputation as a centre capable of producing exciting and challenging contemporary work where it is least expected, unhampered by the spatial and temporal restrictions of classic contemporary art institutions. Remaining faithful to a spirit of perpetual evolution and committed to interesting as broad a public as possible in contemporary art, in the course of over twenty years Galleria Continua has created a strong identity for itself through its ties and experiences. That identity is grounded in two values – generosity and altruism – which lie at the heart of all its dealings with artists, the general public and its development as a whole. Galleria Continua is all about a desire for continuity between ages, the aspiration to having a part in writing the history of the present, a history that is sensitive to contemporary creative practices and which cherishes the link between past and future, and between different and unusual individuals and geographies.
A PIONEERING GALLERY IN CHINA
In keeping with the constantly evolving nature of the gallery and its desire to address as wide a public as possible, four years ago Galleria Continua opened a new exhibition space in Beijing, China, the aim being to promote international contemporary art in a nation where it is little seen and to encourage new forms of cultural exchange. Galleria Continua Beijing performs a particularly intense cultural mediation role, offering Chinese art-lovers the chance to visit exhibitions in which international-level artists devise projects specifi cally for the gallery space and refl ect upon their experiences. It is a twofold challenge: for the foreign artist, who is exhibiting in China in a rather particular venue; and for the visitor, who is venturing into very different cultural territory.
The gallery’s interest in China arose principally as a result of its solid ties of friendship with Chen Zhen and Xu Min. Subsequent contacts with other people heightened that interest and led to extended discussions and correspondence. In April 2004 Galleria Continua participated in the fi rst contemporary art fair in Beijing. Then, in November of the same year, the gallery invited a number of artists to present their projects in the 798 Art District (the former 798 Factory), a reconverted industrial zone occupied by artists, gallery owners and art lovers. The premises taken over by the gallery (1,000 m2 and 13 metres high) had not yet been restored, and its 1950s Bauhaus style was intact. In May 2005 Galleria Continua held its inaugural show in the new space, featuring 16 artists from fi ve continents. At the time it was one of the few initiatives to be organized by a Western gallery in China. Since then there have been exhibitions of the work of Chen Zhen, Daniel Buren, Loris Cecchini, Lucy + Jorge Orta, Pascale Marthine Tayou and Anish Kapoor, plus various other projects, monographic and group shows. The space has become an exciting venue for presenting artists from around the world, all the more remarkable given the comparative rarity of such ventures on the part of Western galleries. The underlying thread of Galleria Continua’s activities in Beijing, as it is in San Gimignano, is to discover new artists and to provide showcases that bring together spheres of creativity and various different cultures.
A NEW ADVENTURE
Galleria Continua is now embarking on a new adventure, opening a singular new venue for contemporary art at Boissy-le-Chatel in the Paris area. Several times a year the Moulin will be the site for ambitious projects and the exhibition of large-scale works. It will be open to the general public on certain special occasions, the format of which will vary depending on circumstances. The inaugural event at the former factory in the Seine-et-Marne area held on Sunday 21 October, and gave visitors an opportunity to see some of the finest works by the gallery’s artists, most of which have never previously been shown in France. Some of the works have been produced specifi cally for the Moulin.