Ljubljana, Slovenia

Slovenia turned out to be the best option for a quiet, yet insightful, weekend between the feasts of Christmas time and NYE. I drove for about 4 hours on a sunny, cold day, enjoying the view I have in front of me. From North Italy to Slovenia, passing by Trieste and its crazy wind, the panorama changed drastically: from a sleepy countryside, to rocky sweet hills and then mountains, valleys and villages with a red-roofed church nestled in the snow.

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My first surprise was to realise how versatile Slovenia is. I only knew it for the short coastline, similar to Croatia. It’s, instead, a delightful mountain country, similar in some ways to Austria with balkan accents, running to the Mediterranean Sea.

Check MUST-SEE PLACES IN SLOVENIA, as perfectly summed up on TRIPOSO

The time frame to visit Ljubljana, a pure gem, in a weekend is simply perfect.

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You get the time to explore the centre, the castle, its museum and the panoramic tower, to eat in some delicious restaurants ( I personally recommend Julija Restaurant and the über-romantic Restavracija Špajza), and enjoy the spas.

Many hotels offer swimming pool and saunas, if you are on a more low-budget there is a public pool and sauna not far away from the city centre called Atlantis (in Summer Ljubljana’s water park).

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Don’t forget to have a boat experience, it’s a 30min ride for 5Euro, great especially if the weather is not the best (and to chat with locals).

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… Slovenia, I’ll be back, for sure.

P.S. I still need to solve the problem of my broken camera, ending up being the idiot who takes picture with a crappy mobile. My apologies. And yes, I do accept donations to buy a new camera.

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December Highlights!

No matter what, time runs fast.

In times of pain or sorrow, it seems slowing down a bit, but it is just our perception, in the end. Time doesn’t matter of you, of you needs, of your way of living or acting. Like nature, it goes on its own way. I have come to ignore, then acknowledge, then like time, because of it’s natural bluntness. Move straight forward, do not ever stop.

So, as my last blog post of the year is approaching the “published” status, I am going to say goodbye to a hard, intense 2014, pretty much ready to start 2015 with less fear and more conviction. I hope you are going too, and many other good feelings and great dispositions.

My usual December Highlights might just be a short post, this time, but music can’t miss. This is my last playlist, I hope you’ll like it.

From a frozen, lonely world I salute you.

Fare thee weel, thou first and fairest! Fare thee weel, thou best and dearest! Thine be ilka joy and treasure, peace, enjoyment, love, and pleasure!

-Ae Fond Kiss-

Enjoy and bring joy with you, always.

Val

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Anselm Kiefer. Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts, London

I came full of expectations, got stroked by the sacred Art itself, and left in a glass case of emotions.

Photo courtesy Royal Academy of Arts. Photography: James Harris / © Anselm Kiefer.

Photo courtesy Royal Academy of Arts. Photography: James Harris / © Anselm Kiefer.

By the time I steamed my enthusiasm off I started wondering what the hell happened to me in there. Then I started feeling a little slice of disappointment running into my veins, from the heart to the brain. Let’s proceed one step at a time.

The solo exhibit at the Royal Academy of Arts, wonderfully organised, gave me lots of great moments, such it’s poignant. 12 rooms in total, from the early works to special installations made for the Academy, an actual path to explore Kiefer the artist in a fluid flux along the building, majestic feature and background.

In the Hall. © Anselm Kiefer

Hall. © Anselm Kiefer

The official website states:

“Kiefer’s extraordinary body of work includes painting, sculpture and quite simply monumental installations. Uncompromising in the subject matter he tackles, Kiefer’s work powerfully captures the human experience and draws on history, mythology, literature, philosophy and science.”

I loved the composition in the rooms, the visitors were flooding in every possible spot, yet the dynamics between artworks and people was perfect. I also loved having the chance to check out the early works.

© Anselm Kiefer

Early work © Anselm Kiefer

I guess it is about time to explain why I love so much Kiefer. As I already wrote, the term “poignant” could be the only meaningful explanation. To be more talkative (it’s a blog, for Lord’s sake!) Kiefer is a post-war German artist that worked on crucial themes such as history, religion, mythology and  more. A mix of anthropology, ethnology, and more. I could keep writing stuff and ass “and more” and it would not still been enough. Kiefer is the kind of artist that never stops going a bit further with investigating the human being, its actions, its spiritual side. On a personal level his relationship  God-Man is also vastly investigated, as visitors can see in his works with sunflowers and the ones with diamonds.

The use of materials is also an important part of Kiefer’s production. Wood: his childhood; Seeds: religion and life; Stones and Steel: history. And more. Everything seems to have a meaning and this aspect is sometimes endearing, sometimes overwhelming.

© Anselm Kiefer Anselm I am sorry I took some pics, it was prohibited and I learnt it only after been told off by guards

© Anselm Kiefer
Anselm I am sorry I took some pics, it was prohibited and I learnt it only after been told off by guards!

Now, what I realised I didn’t like about the exhibition, that little disappointment was the fact that 2 big topics were missing: the holocaust and more about the Bible, like the Genesis. Also the books and memory topic could have exponentially improved.

I remember a young myself visiting White Cube London some years ago, and falling in love with Palm Sunday and Aperiatur Terra by Kiefer. Oh my days, that exhibit has still a hold on me. It was everything. And more.

I didn’t see anything of those topics, and my little heart cried a little, I must admit.

© Anselm Kiefer Courtyard

Courtyard © Anselm Kiefer 

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Courtyard © Anselm Kiefer

Anyway, I have to wrap this blog post I am writing on a Saturday evening in a nice pub of Clapham Old Town, so I am going to invite everybody in London to go visit the Royal Academy of Arts in Central London and pay the ticket for a Kiefer experience. It’s worthy. And more.

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LAST WEEK TO SEE KIEFER AT RA! (it ends on Dec 14th!)  https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/anselm-kiefer

November Highlights!

A quick blog post to remind you that my new monthly favourites post is out&ready for your critics on the apposite Playlist page. When I started this column I called my favourites “Playlist” because I wanted to see everything I loved during the month like a pleasant, fluid collection of notes, with suggestions ready to be shared and used by whoever reads.

I’d love to have more interaction from you, so comments are welcome too (also on my FB page Valanzo) :)

My month was busy, and writing today made me realised how much I missed out and how I am not giving my full potential on the things I love. Anyway I am following a plan, and hopefully I will get long-term results that will help me setting my limits higher and manage my time better.

Let’s start with the music, again a mix of new releases and good old tunes, I hope you enjoy it”

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Click on the image to start listen to.

Highlights of the months are the world-record radio program “Serial”, the podcast and my thoughts about it, 25th Fall of Berlin Wall and more. LINK

Enjoy and bring joy with you, always.

Val

Sticks and Stones, an intervention

I took some time yesterday to say goodbye to the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin. No, I’m not planning to move away, but there will be major renovation works soon, so the New National Gallery will be closed from 2015 for several years.  Several years, what an awful news.

Albeit the loss the city will face in terms of contemporary art offer, if you are in the city head there, and just enjoy the wonderful installation designed by British architect David Chipperfield. After the great renovation made at Neues Museum in Museum Island, he worked in the open glass hall of the New National Gallery by displaying 144 impressive tree trunks.

David Chipperfield, Sticks and Stones, intervention, installation view

Official Picture from the Museum website. © Photo: David Becker

I was blessed with a beautiful sunny day and the reflections of the light, the rays trespassing and the shadows produced were stunning. The synergy created between place, materials and light was the highlight of my Sunday. Additionally visitors create beautiful interactions by touching the 8m tall trees, by moving around, by creating new shadows.

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Toddler playing

Toddler playing

The exceptionality of living this open space in such a different way is striking if you are usually used to see it as a blank canvas, with no pillars sustaining its free floating roof. Architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe designed the space to be widely open, an interaction of granite floors, steel columns and glass. The introduction of wood on the granite, literally stick and stones, adds new meanings to the space itself: it gives a natural support to the roof, that for all this years; it gives also a sense of closure, anticipating the structural works the museum is about to undergo. An English nursery rhyme says “Sticks and Stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”. I saw this installation also as a wish, to avoid cracking the soul of the New National Gallery with the upcoming works.

Sony Center in the background

Sony Center in the background

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The exhibition continues downstairs until December 31st, if you have no money to pay the ticket just go there and enjoy the forest in the hall, it is for free and really worth a visit.

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P.S.: as you may see the pictures were taken with a mobile phone. I had no power to control light and sharpness. At the end, I quite like the rough result this time.

 

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Lichtgrenze – Berlin

I believe this past weekend was indeed the best one to be in Berlin. In part I am saying it because the weather was gracefully beautiful, but mostly because the events that the city pulled out for the 25th Anniversary of the Wall Fall were really on point. Lichtgrenze was a sublime project, and didn’t miss to spread a clear reminder of how a city can not be divided, without losing its soul.

This art project, composed of 15 km of light installation, sent out a message of clear immortality, like a peace can be reached, without forgetting, without losing the memory of it, of its core. 15 km to walk along, across, next to. The invisible wall of light was constantly mixing up with the city, with the iconic buildings of the past and the new ones, with citizens and tourists.

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I walked for 12 out of those 15km, carrying a broken camera, motivated to capture some eloquent moments, despite the crappy instrument (seriously, I need a camera). I played mostly with long exposures, because I despise the flash and wanted to preserve the colours. Suicidal move: I didn’t use a tripod, because it’s another thing I need to buy. I started walking around the closest piece of the Berlin wall I have next to where I live, the central part, on Friday. On Saturday, Mitte filled with people everywhere, I explored the northern part, from the Hauptbahnhof until the ex border crossing point Bornholmer Strasse. I kept the eastern part, around my neighbourhood, for Sundaym with the plan to get to the East Side Gallery. I didn’t reach it, due to the mass of people on the street. For many reasons, it looked like NYE. After an emotional tour around Kreuzberg, finding my way through the thousand of people on the streets, I stopped at Schillingbrücke, that is an important bridge between Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain, West and East Berlin. I thought it was a great point to see the balloons, that were attached to the light installation, let free. I could have decided to go to Brandeburger Tor and enjoy the concerts, but I wanted it to be a more private experience, and I really wanted to be at the crossroads between two former countries, now one. It was a good farewell. A meaningful one. I went home with the awareness of being part of the history. Moreover, I went home with the moral obligation to remember the history and share it with as many as possible.

Here are some snippets of the event. Bear with me for the quality. MORE PICTURES CAN BE FOUND ON MY FLICKR in the following days.

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Zimmerstrasse

Checkpoint Charlie

Checkpoint Charlie

Beautiful border between Kreuzberg and Mitte

Beautiful border between Kreuzberg and Mitte

@ Topography of Terror

@ Topography of Terror

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Awful shot @ Potsdamer Platz, , the lights and people there were too many for my old friend, the crappy camera.

To Brandeburger Tor

To Brandenburger Tor

The Reichstag-Bundestag area.

The Reichstag-Bundestag area.

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Liesenstrasse at the corner with Chaussestrasse, Mitte

Liesenstrasse

Liesenstrasse

Gartenstraße

Gartenstraße

Park am Nordbahnhof

Park am Nordbahnhof

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Bernauerstrasse

Mauerpark

Mauerpark

Bornholmer Straße border crossing

Bornholmer Straße, ex border crossing

Bundesdruckerei

Bundesdruckerei

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Indischer Brunnen, Kreuzberg

Bethaniendamm

Bethaniendamm

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