Still a few days left to visit Robert Wilson at Villa Panza in Varese (Italy)


“An artist recreates history, not like a historian, but as a poet.”
Robert Wilson in conversations with Umberto Eco, Performing Arts Journal, January 1993

Text by: Charlotte Garlaschelli

It was a success. A success of 60.000 people visiting the exhibition “Robert Wilson for Villa Panza. Tales” hosted at the beautiful Varese villa since November 2016, now extended until March 4 of the present year. Robert Wilson, whose works have danced with light and drama, is world-famous for his visual and performative art. He has managed to find a new direction for contemporary theatre by means of unprecedented experimentation, through the use of sounds and images, drawings and body shapes. “It has the signature of a major artistic creation.

Robert Wilson ph. Yiorgos Kaplanidis

I can’t think of any body of work as large or as influential” said Susan Sontag about a young Bob, who grew up in Texas and studied at the Brooklyn Pratt Institute. His career displays a long list of collaborations with acclaimed artists and international musicians, such as David Byrne, Laurie Anderson, Allen Ginsberg, Lou Reed, Tom Waits, Cocorosie.

The Italian exhibition was curated by Noah Khoshbin from the Wilson Studio and by Villa Panza’s director Anna Bernardini. Wilson’s works occupy the whole villa and the surrounding park: a Video Portraits selection, in addition to A Winter Fable, inspired by Italo Calvino’s tale “Mrs. Fox and Mr. Wolf”, published in an Einaudi collection in 1956.
A Winter Fable is a new video portrait series, created especially for the coach house of Villa Panza, property of FAI – Fondo Ambiente Italiano (National Trust of Italy) in Varese. The artwork will become part of the villa’s permanent exhibition, along with the installation “A House for Giuseppe Panza” – a tableau vivant, accompanied by an audio recording of Rainer Maria Rilke’s verses, recited by Wilson himself from Letters to a young poet (1929).

Robert Wilson, KOOL, Snowy Owl - Green 2006 RW WorkRobert Wilson, KOOL, Snowy Owl - Green 2006 RW Work

The Video Portraits represent animals, artists and showmen: there are portraits of Lady Gaga, displayed in Italy for the first time, but also a portrait inspired by Rembrandt’s famous Anatomy Lesson, as well as pictures of Brad Pitt and Roberto Bolle. This is where Wilson’s esprit reveals the world of light and inner time, a crossroad between the classic and contemporary world, a perfect union of universal and individual themes related to the human body. A synthetic reflection that hints at ethical questions in the aesthetic composition of images.