Venetian Reverie
Nina Khemchyan meets the Floating City at the Galerie de Buci

View of the exhibition ECHO DE VENISE by Nina Khemchyan at the Galerie de Buci

Photo: Curtesy of the Galerie de Buci

The Galerie de Buci’s latest exhibition, ECHO DE VENISE by Nina Khemchyan, unfolds as a vibrant tapestry of themes and narratives captured in the delicate embrace of ceramic sculptures. Inspired in part by the allure and charm of Venice, where Nina is representing Armenia at the Biennale in this year’s edition, this collection invites visitors into a realm where Venetian allure, Armenian heritage, dance, water, life and death converge seamlessly to create a fascinating dialogue. Join us in this article to explore the exhibition and discover the intricate Venitian inspirations that can be found in this body of work.

Nina Khemchyan, an French artist of Armenian heritage, is celebrated for her mastery of terre chamottée, or grog clay, and intricately molds each piece to evoke profound emotions and cultural resonances. Her sculptures not only involve meticulous craftsmanship but also narrate stories that transcend time and place, offering glimpses into the greater aspects of human condition. Some of the pieces in the show, which nevertheless brings together a few different themes, were inspired by the many charms of Venice, after her presence in the Biennale this year. In this article we delve deeper into their different meanings and significance.

Echo de Venise:
the show's centerpiece
At the heart of Nina Khemchyan’s exhibition lies the mesmerizing "Echo of Venice," a round spheric ceramic sculpture that serves as a profound homage to the cultural tapestry of Venice. This masterpiece encapsulates the essence of Venetian allure through its meticulously crafted surface, adorned with intricate drawings and delicate gold incisions. The sculpture transports viewers to the enchanting realm of Venetian masquerades and opulent celebrations, where every detail—from the evocative images of Murano glass chandeliers to the serene faces of women—conjures visions of elegance and mystery. Khemchyan’s skillful use of ceramic as a medium allows her to capture the essence of light and shadow, echoing the playfulness and sophistication of Venetian artistry. "Echo of Venice" not only embodies the visual splendor of Venetian culture but also invites contemplation of its deeper narratives, inviting viewers to immerse themselves in a world where history, tradition, and elegance converge seamlessly.

Nina Khemchyan, Echo de Venise, 2024
Photo: Curtesy of the Galerie de Buci

The lion of Venice:
a symbol of the city
Amidst Nina Khemchyan’s exhibition stands a magnificent ceramic vase, adorned in gold with linear incisions that intricately depict a golden lion. This lion, distinguished by its striking blue eyes and nose, holds a profound and enduring significance in Venetian symbolism. As the emblem of the Republic of Venice, the lion of Saint Mark represents virtues such as strength, sovereignty, and vigilance, attributes that defined the city-state's maritime empire and cultural influence for centuries. From its origins as a Byzantine symbol to its adaptation by the Venetian Republic, the lion has served as a powerful icon of Venetian identity and pride. Khemchyan’s meticulous craftsmanship brings this emblematic figure to life on the ceramic surface, capturing the regal essence of the lion with reverence and detail. The addition of blue accents subtly enhances the traditional portrayal, infusing the piece with a touch of artistic nuance while maintaining fidelity to its historical roots. Additionally, the golden lion is also the highest prize for artists at the Venice film festival! The vase thus stands as a powerful testament to Khemchyan’s ability to interpret and celebrate Venice’s rich cultural heritage through her artistic vision, inviting viewers to contemplate the enduring symbolism embedded within this iconic motif.

Nina Khemchyan. Lion de Venise, 2024
Photo: Curtesy of the Galerie de Buci

Soirée Vénitienne:
Venetian Nights
"Soirée Vénitienne," a captivating creation by Nina Khemchyan, stands as a vivid representation of the diverse cultural and artistic facets of Venice. This piece intricately captures the essence of Venetian evenings, where masquerades and Murano chandeliers form the backdrop of enchanting gatherings. Nina's meticulous craftsmanship breathes life into each detail of the ceramic sculpture, from the intricately designed masks that evoke the mystery and allure of Venetian masquerades to the delicate portrayal of Murano glass chandeliers, symbolizing the city’s renowned craftsmanship and luxury. Through "Soirée Vénitienne," Nina invites viewers to immerse themselves in the vibrancy and sophistication of Venetian life, where artistic expression and cultural celebrations intertwine seamlessly. The sculpture not only celebrates the visual splendor of these diversions but also pays homage to Venice’s historical and cultural legacy, making it a compelling embodiment of the city’s enduring allure and artistic richness.

Nina Khemchyan, Soirée Vénitienne, 2024
Photo: Curtesy of the Galerie de Buci

Fontaine de Venise:
flowing splendor

Among Nina's evocative works in her exhibition, pieces like "Fontaine Vénitienne" stand out for their profound exploration of Venice’s aquatic essence. This is a theme that can be hardly avoided when dealing with Venice, as it was a civilization that essentially grew out of the water and maintained its influence due to its dominance of the element. Covered in mesmerizing blue pigments, the sculpture captures the serene and dynamic nature of water that defines the floating city. "Fontaine Vénitienne," portrays the poetic beauty of Venetian fountains, where water flows gracefully amidst architectural splendor, reflecting sunlight and creating a sense of tranquil movement. Khemchyan’s use of blue pigments not only evokes the hues of Venetian canals but also symbolizes the city’s deep connection to its aquatic environment. The golden lines enhance the dynamic flow and energy that the viewer derives from the sculpture, and bestow the composition with a certain voluptuousnes. Through these sculptures, Khemchyan invites viewers to contemplate the fluidity of Venetian life and the timeless allure of its watery landscapes, showcasing her ability to encapsulate both the physical and metaphorical dimensions of water within the ceramic medium.

Nina Khemchyan, Fontaine de Venise, 2024
Photo: Curtesy of the Galerie de Buci

Printemps Vénitien:
joy in full bloom
The last work that is related to the allure of Venice in NINA’s exhibition is “Venetian Spring” —a unique sculpture reflecting the joys of Spring in the Serenissima, a captivating interplay of color and form that brings to life the vibrancy of the season. This ceramic sphere, smaller in size than some of the other centerpieces of the show, it is nevertheless a jewel in its splendor. Loyal to NINA’s style, the sphere is covered in a deeply intriguing pigment —in this case blue, derived from the pigmentation of cobalt— that covers the characters enjoying outdoors activities and relaxation. It stands boldly and richly against the background of the sphere, bright and golden, also present in the negative space between the extremities of the figures, creating a visual symphony that draws the viewer into a world of luminosity. These also vary in size, and are suspended in space as if found in some kind of limbo, which gives the piece a sense of fluid unity. The golden hues, reminiscent of sunlight reflecting off the Venetian waters, enhance the sense of exuberance and vitality. Through this intricate composition, Nina captures the essence of Venetian Spring, portraying a scene where the beauty of nature and the joy of human connection converge in a radiant display of color and form.

Nina Khemchyan, Soirée Vénitienne, 2024
Photo: Curtesy of the Galerie de Buci

In ECHO DE VENISE, Nina Khemchyan's artistry transforms the Galerie de Buci into a window to Venice, revealing the intricate beauty and cultural richness of this timeless city. Through her masterful use of clay, Nina weaves a narrative that is both deeply personal and universally evocative, celebrating the spirit of Venice through its symbols, stories, and splendors. From the regal majesty of the golden lion to the enchanting allure of masquerades, the serene poetry of Venetian fountains, and the vibrant joy of spring, each piece invites viewers to embark on a journey of discovery and reflection.

Khemchyan's work not only pays homage to the historical and cultural legacy of Venice but also underscores the enduring allure that continues to captivate hearts and minds across the world. This exhibition is a testament to her ability to bridge the past and present, capturing the essence of Venice in a way that resonates profoundly with contemporary audiences and yet reflect her timeless style. Come to the Galerie de Buci to walk through this extraordinary collection, where you are invited to experience Venice not just as a place, but as an enduring source of inspiration and wonder.

View of the exhibition ECHO DE VENISE by Nina Khemchyan at the Galerie de Buci

Photo: Curtesy of the Galerie de Buci

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