Vaults of Milan A Flemish cityscape by Stella Succi
Milan should be observed as a Flemish painter would do: focusing on details, while maintaining a bird’s eye-view. Indeed, we are not dealing with the tiny topography of cities like Bruges or Brussels, but with a place that nevertheless had its own Baron Haussmann. His name was Cesare Beruto, and he was responsible for the knocking down of the alleys, and for the marking of its nature as a magnificent and somehow polycentric city, one that needs to be crossed to and fro in spite of its small size.
Missing the traditional net of alleys typical of other European centres, one does not simply stroll around a neighbourhood or an area, going here and there, to find something special; but will grow fond of some particular location. Indeed, you need to decide first-hand which location you are the fondest of, because the city map is scattered with great ones. At the same time, you will grow fond of the people who bring the place to life, rather than the place itself.
Finally, and in spite of being in the outskirts of Europe, Milan can count on a particularly receptive system (a number of systems, actually: think of fashion and design), thus inviting young artists, critics, and art dealers to challenge the status quo in the many public contexts. And more recently, as a confirmation of this trend, galleries such as Raucci Santamaria and Federica Schiavo have opened a second location here.
Among the most promising of the several emergent art projects initiated by youngsters in Milan, my map is punctuated by four of them: Fanta Spazio, Armada, Clima Gallery and Tile Project Space.
Fanta Spazio is a non-profit space opened in NoLo (the new hipster name given to the Northern section of Loreto neighbourhood) in 2015 by thirty-year-old Alessio Baldissera, Gloria de Risi and Alberto Zenere. Thanks to their unquestionable intellectual honesty , they are the people you feel like talking to about the last big event in the art-world. Their shows convey determination, freedom, and a wish for an incessant dialogue with artists, collectors and the audience: a rare commodity, indeed.
Lisa Dalfino, Installation view at Fanta Spazio, Milan, 2015. Courtesy of the artist and Fanta Spazio, Milan. Photo: Roberto Marossi.
At the Northern periphery of Milan, the artists-run space Armada made a name for itself in 2015 with 8 exhibitions and 18 (!) people involved in the making. If every head is a Parliament (according to a Neapolitan saying), Armada’s team proved that the opposite is true: they know how to work organically, and the result is far from being schizophrenic. They were able to build their own audience thanks to their brave combinations, such as the exhibitions of Cheng Ran, Jared Madere and Franco Angeli right at the beginning of their path.
Franco Angeli, “Adrianopoli,” Installation view at Armada, Milan, 2015. Courtesy of the artist; Estate Franco Angeli; and Armada, Milano. Photo: Beppe Raso
Clima Gallery was borne in 2015 by the efforts of Francesco Lecci, and as the result of a long and passionate research. The extreme care taken in both the making of the exhibitions and the selection of represented artists (currently the Los Angeles-based artist Jason Gomez and the Rome-based artist Matteo Nasini) is bound to be worth it. The gallery is located in Porta Venezia area, nearby the historical Raffaella Cortese Gallery.
Cosimo Casoni, “The Sunday Side,” Installation view at Clima, Milan, 2016. Courtesy of the artist and Clima, Milan. Photo: Marco Davolio
Tile Project Space’s claim is “a production and exhibition place open to the experimentation and the growth of the new generation of Italian artists.” Moreover, they publish a zine to reconstruct the artistic and curatorial process of every exhibition they produce. The founders—Roberta Mansueto, Caterina Molteni and Denise Solenghi—are aware of the quality of their process in creating the shows, ever accurate and dialectic, and this is what they always focus on.
Benni Bosetto, “Florida,” Installation view at TILE Project Space, Milan. Courtesy of the artist and TILE Project Space, Milan. Photo: Floriana Giacinti
All this spaces developed in 2015, which will be for sure remembered as the EXPO year. But if we raise above it, and look with a watchful eye—just as a Flemish painter would do—it will be easy to realise that something more special happened in Milan, something which is growing and seems meant to last.
Stella Succi is an art historian based in Milan. She was Editor at Alfabeta2 (2010-2013) and Web and Photo Editor at Mousse Magazine (2013-2016). She is now Managing Editor at The Towner and Prismo, as well as Editor at il Tascabile. Her favorite character is Black Phillip.
Cover image: An old map of Milan