Piacenza Opens Up to New Artistic Synergies

New galleries, contemporary art spaces, and museums have joined their forces to create “XNL Aperto”, a new network that repositions the country town south of Milan by putting art at the centre of its territorial marketing strategy.

Quel Che Resta del Presente, Gianluigi Colin, Volumnia. Fausto Mazza Studio

Piacenza’s mission is to engage the local population, foster networking among the key figures in the art world, and promote beauty to make the pleasant but unremarkable town more attractive. This is the reason why “XNL Aperto” was born. The new artistic itinerary includes recently inaugurated venues, well-established museums and rampant art galleries in the area.

Located in the region of Emilia, Lombard-influenced Piacenza has always cared about artistic development. Nowadays, it rediscovers its vocation for the arts, starting with the opening of XNL, a new art space in the centre of the city where the solo exhibition by artist Francesco Simeti, titled “Come un Limone Lunare,” has just opened. The show devotes a significant amount of space to discussing how important it is for kids to learn about other cultures and how to relate to them. Simeti’s artworks coexist alongside areas set aside for school workshops, indicating the increasing focus on the artistic effort to influence the cultural identity of future generations.

Francesco Simeti, “Come un Limone Lunare,” 2022 , XNL Piacenza. Photo by Daniele Signaroldi. Courtesy XNL Piacenza.

“Fenestella” and “Alfabeto Bianco,” two new initiatives, opened their doors alongside XNL. Fenestella, which is Italian for “little window,” takes place annually and for the first edition the art galleries Apalazzo, Corvi-Mora, ED Gallery, greengrassi and Galleria UNA share a common space and present the works of contemporary artists like Juha Pekka Matias Laakkonen, Thomas Berra, Stefano Arienti, Candido Fior, Alessio Tasca, and Filippo Bisagni. The project captures the essence of the initiative by promoting new connections and opportunities for art galleries.

Montrasio Arte inaugurated “Alfabeto Bianco” with the collaboration of the Milan-based Galleria ZERO…. The project originates as a multidisciplinary reality, a space of urban anthropology at the centre of which sustainability becomes the nodal point through which different languages are investigated in a transversal and timeless way. The exhibition opens with a focus on the work of Dennis Oppenheim – curated by Alberto Salvadori – and a “dialogue” between works by Alex Ayed and Riccardo Benassi.

Daily Desiderio Domestico, Riccardo Benassi. Photo by the author.

In the grand spaces of the deconsecrated Church of St. Augustine, the Volumnia gallery opened a solo show devoted to the work of Gianluigi Colin titled “Quel Che Resta del Presente,” curated by Achille Bonito Oliva. Colin placed the shrouds found in the Corriere della Sera printing shop (he works as an art director at the Italian newspaper) adorning the spaces of the church without distorting its identity. Colin recounted that he found these colourful fabrics in the Corriere della Sera typography by chance. “They are production scraps,” he told me. “These are the fabrics with which the presses are routinely cleaned at the end of each work day. Those fabrics imprinted with inks and solvents, loaded with bright colours, immediately appeared to me as extraordinary revelations. Those cloths symbolically served to erase, cleanse, dissolve the news of the world: in short, they were the secular shrouds of our time.”

The constellation of projects worth visiting the city – an opportunity to try gnocco fritto with Piacenza’s delicatessen – and the collective effort is the first step toward creating a new network that could reposition the country south of Milan by putting art at the centre of its territorial marketing strategy.

Jessica Capretti is a frequent contributor to Milano Art Guide since 2021. She graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Milan and has worked on several projects including “L’Arc de Triomphe Wrapped” by Christo and Jeanne-Claude, in Paris. She lives and works in Milan.