Want to be part of an art exhibit that will grow and grow? That honors the famous Venetian Giacomo Casanova with new interpretations? Take the boat over to Giudecca and visit Carrion Gallery, creation of Manuel Carrion.
Last March he inaugurated a new project called “Spying on History with Casanova.” He invites all to add their piece to the show, which consists of small canvases set up to form a mosaic on the wall. Each contributor can use whatever medium she or he wishes to create an image that represents their understanding of Casanova. Manuel says, “Some visitors know very little about the man, or don’t even realize that he was a real, living person. In fact, many Venetians know little about their most famous son, so the exhibit gives them a chance to learn about their own local history.”
I visited the gallery this summer a couple times. Below you’ll see Manuel on the left explaining his concepts to Adriano on the right. Adriano has studied Casanova for decades and had many questions for Manuel.
So of course when Manuel offered me a canvas, I couldn’t say no. I had no idea what I would produce; I felt a lot of pressure after writing a BOOK about Casanova that I needed to come up with something remarkable for this little canvas! But after thinking about it for a while, I realized that I always wanted others to know that Casanova was more than just a lover. Hence all the words listing his talents and roles. The heart in the middle I bought for a euro at a flea market on Malamocco when I went there for the regatta. It seemed appropriate that the heart should stay in Venice. The seller told me it was cut from a book cover. As I was staying at a little apartment all summer, I didn’t have access to many materials; in fact, I had to borrow some felt pens from my Italian teacher! But I guess you could say that my heart was put into it!
Manuel hopes to continue adding to the exhibit until he has over a thousand squares. You can find Carrion Gallery on Facebook if you want more info. The beauty is that this exhibit brings Casanova to a new generation, or to people who might not know who he was. Perhaps a new Casanovist could be born after visiting this show….
Here are more closeups of the individual canvases:
Here is the canvas created by Adriano, the man in the dark blue shirt pictured above. He has recreated an exceptional event from Casanova’s life: when he was staying at an inn and noticed these words (in blue on Adriano’s canvas) carved into the window glass. Casanova had stayed at that same inn, in the same room, years before with a woman he calls Henriette (and who scholars have never been able to positively identify). When she and Casanova parted, she used her ring to carve the message that he would someday forget his Henriette. He never did. She was one of the great loves of his life.
On the back of Adriano’s canvas, he notes the place where you can read the story in Casanova’s memoirs.