Sunday, 12 April 2015

Milan, MiArt, blood

There are a lot of dodgy facelifts here. One of the facelifts tilts back its head and lowers a strip of Parma ham into its mouth. It looks as if it is eating itself.

Air that dries your throat as you breathe in. Front-of-house girls with that estate-agent glaze in Prada, ripped white linen, mini bell skirts, gold stilettos. Two men in zebra onesies.

Repetition makes fire extinguishers and bottles of water the dominant images.

This is MiArt, the annual contemporary art fair in Milan. I've got some drawings here, under the counter at stand C01. I think you need permission from the Vatican to see them.

I stop at a pair of reverentially framed brown trousers and am probably the only person in this vast exhibition complex thinking of Major Bloodnok. If you understand that last sentence you are probably dead or Prince Charles.

I go to the Pinacoteca Brera. Mantegna, Bellini, Veronese. I stand in front of them and inhale. In a glass-walled chamber sponsored by Pirelli, The Martyrdom of St Catherine of Alexandria by Gaudenzio Ferrari is being restored.

I can't face the Duomo crowds so I drink crimson blood orange juice in the Mondadori bookshop and go to the Biblioteca e Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, a superb collection which has undergone pilfering by Lord Byron. I get whole tracts of the building to myself.

An architectural oddity here is Bramantino's Enthroned Madonna and child with Saint Ambrose and Saint Michael. The supine victims in the foreground are a heretic and a man-sized frog which represents evil. Harsh, but webbed feet get you a bad name.

The Raphael cartoon of The School of Athens is being restored in a cordoned-off gallery. The double-decker-bus-sized canvas is side-on and yards away, but it's exciting to see it standing in a workshop as it started out, even if it now faces rows of X-ray prints stuck to the wall.

On the train to the airport, a man asks me to wake him at the destination and falls asleep. My eyes fill with tears at this simple trust in my competence.

More pictures if you scroll down. My exhibition at Pinsent Masons in Broadgate closes on 17 April.

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