At the Reggia di Venaria, art meets video games – Turin

Alberto Savinio, Chevaucher marine, oil on canvas, oil on canvas, 1929. London-Turin, Galleria Mazzoleni

Turin – What video game atmospheres like Apotheon, Icothe screenshots of Rezwith some Hellenistic vases from the 5th century BC, the enigmatic squares of Giorgio de Chirico, the sculptures of Iago or the lines of Kandinsky?
It is the theme of the game, with its multiple references and panoramas to join the playful soul of the so-called “tenth form of art” – precisely the video game – to the famous masterpieces of the past and present. The exceptional parterre of this original meeting could only be the Venaria Reale, a place historically delegated to loisirto the fun and playful moments of the Court and its guests.

Giorgio de Chirico, Enigma of departure, Oil on canvas, 1914, Mamiano di Traversetolo (Parma), Magnani Rocca Foundation

In the year in which the monumental complex on the outskirts of Turin, declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco, celebrates its first 15 years of opening to the public, the Reggia dedicates the entire annual schedule of exhibitions and activities to the theme of the “game “And its numerous references. Until January 15, 2023 the Rooms of the Arts host the exhibition Play – videogame art and beyondan unprecedented and in some ways unusual exhibition, curated by Fabio Viola and Guido Curto, which investigates video games as the “tenth form of art”, highlighting their impact on contemporary society.

Preparation of the Play exhibition – videogame art and beyond | Photo: © Costantino Sergi | Courtesy Venaria Reale

The itinerary is in addition to the two exhibitions dedicated to the same theme, proposed in continuity with each other: From squares to courts. Stories of games and shows between the 18th and 19th centuries running until 18 September, e Photo in Game! A tale of 18 Italian photographers open until January 15th.

Practiced by 3 billion people around the world, is this form of art enclosed under the name of “video games” really a world of playful escapism and mere pastime, as many perceive it today? Nobody would say it, but, as the exhibition wants to highlight, video games represent an outpost, a meta form of art where ideas and visions are born and where architecture, painting, sculpture, music, performing arts, poetry, cinema, comics coexist in harmony. giving life to stratified collective worlds. This is why along the twelve rooms of the Sale delle Arti route, the digital canvases of the great masters who inspired this tenth art well insinuate themselves among famous masterpieces of yesterday and today, inviting us to reflect on cultures, aesthetics, politics and languages of the 21st century.

Preparation of the Play exhibition – videogame art and beyond | Photo: © Costantino Sergi | Courtesy Venaria Reale

The public will grasp the unprecedented relationship between the influences of the great masters of the past such as de Chirico, Hokusai, Calder, Dorè, SavinioPiranesi, Kandinsky, Warhol (but also of the Hellenistic vases of the 5th century BC) on the aesthetics of video games such as Ico, Monument Valley, Okami, Diablo IV. Conversely, he will also discover how living artists such as Bill Viola, Invader, Jago, Tabor Robak, the AES + F collective and Federico Clapis have drawn on the language of the video game to give life to some of their material and digital works.

After passing the rooms linked to aesthetic and symbolic influences, the guests of the Venaria Reale will grasp the connections between the video game and contemporary mythology, marked by a long narrative line of great human stories. At this point they will be called to take a step back through the centuries to glimpse in video games the last link in a chain that began over 4000 years ago with the Epic of Gilgamesh passing through the Iliad and the Odyssey, the Divine Comedy up to to Star Wars and Harry Potter.

Preparation of the Play exhibition – videogame art and beyond | Photo: © Workshop of Ideas

The two rooms focusing on the themes of Eros and Thanatos present authentic masterpieces such as Florence, Death Stranding, To The Moon, League of Legends, which have generated profound impacts on the lives of millions of people through new interactive forms of writing. In the Sala dei Maestri there is space for some of the pioneers of video games, by the visual artist Yoshitaka Amano, iconic designer of Final Fantasyto the gamedesigner Yu Suzuki, up to the Piedmontese Andrea Pessino.

The hall Play Homo Ludens closes the exhibition. Here the reconstruction of four “environments”, ranging from a Japanese game room of the Eighties to the future Metaverse, tells the evolutionary chronology of this art form, activating amarcord in adult audiences and helping the very young to orient themselves in the videogame stratigraphy, from the commercial beginnings to the near future.

Black-figure amphora with distinct neck, mid 5th century BC | Courtesy La Venaria Reale

The public will be able to have fun playing with Pac-man, Street Fighter and Space Invaders cabinets, relive the times of Sony’s first Playstation and confront the most recent productions before taking a leap into the future wearing the viewers.
The Homo Ludens space is enhanced by the collaboration with Lucca Comics & Games, lenders of original tables signed by the masters of international pop culture such as Jim Lee and Michael Whelan.

Walking among the drawings of Batman, Superman, Captain Tsubasa, guests will be able to allow themselves a moment of reflection inside some panoramic rooms with an exclusive view of the Gardens of the Palace, solving stimulating questions that lead to reflect on the issues addressed in the exhibition in a meditative passage from virtual to real.

Preparation of the Play exhibition – videogame art and beyond | Photo: © Workshop of Ideas

The exhibition continues with the “Venaria Light Show: the Great Game”, a “real” video game conceived specifically for the Royal Palace, which allows visitors to “act” on the facade of the Galleria Grande through a giant four-meter keyboard, projecting onto its baroque surface effects of lights and images. The Venaria Light Show is available during the Summer Evenings at the Reggia, the evening openings that allow – every Friday and Saturday from 22 July to 13 August and Sunday 14 August until 10.30 pm – to visit the Gardens and the exhibitions in progress.

Vasilij Kandinskij, Black bars, Oil on wood, 1928, Private collection

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