In Venice for a too-quick two-day visit in late June, my husband and I struck up a conversation with an architect and artist named Adrian Tuchel. He was in Venice for a short stay also, completing some artwork for a show that is running right now. Deep into a conversation sharing our love for the city, he offered to walk us around to see a few places he’d discovered that are not on the well-worn tourist route.
First we took the #2 vaporetto over to the island of San Giorgio Maggiore, where we toured the incredible Giorgio Cini Foundation complex. This international cultural center grew from one man’s desire to honor his deceased son by restoring an ancient monastery and rehabilitating a neglected island. It now has, aside from priceless artwork and illustrious symposiums, an ultra-modern, multi-disciplinary research library that must be seen to be believed.
Among the 150,000 art books, its largest collection and most significant focus, is Dr. Andrea Palladio’s First Book of Architecture, dated 1581. Guided tours, no reservations required, are offered on Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 5pm. Weekday tours require a group of at least 12, and a reservation. We walked next door to the beautiful San Giorgio Maggiore church, designed by Palladio and built between 1566 and1610. Its tall tower provides some of the best views of Venice. We made sure to catch the elevator down before the bells started to peal.
After lunch at the restaurant Al Redentore on the Guidecca, Adrian walked us down an alley that dead-ended at worn door. He knocked, and the Rossi gondola boatyard (read more about these boatyards) was revealed. Not sure anyone can just walk in, but they were very welcoming.
Along the way, we had the privilege of watching Adrian sketch, and he showed us some of his completed watercolors. I recommend a visit to the exhibit if you are so lucky to be in Venice now through the 28th of September, or a click on his web site, to see and perhaps purchase a wonderful image of the beloved Serenissima.
Minimalist Venice: Adrian Tuchel’s Pen &Ink and Watercolors
Palazzo Cavalli Franchetti
Campo S. Stefano
San Marco 2842
Vaporetto lines 1 and 2, Accademia stop
September 6 to 28, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily
Adrian Tuchel’s work results from many years of gifted artistry combined with architectural accomplishment, fuelled by his passion for the city and people of Venice. Through his research into minimalism in drawing, his highly personal style materialized, particularly observing transparency and light. Where better to focus on transparency and light than in Venice? His drawings and watercolors capture well-loved views, often from unusual angles. Favorite places are discovered and rediscovered, through the eyes of this talented artist and architect.
Exhibit #1: San Marco and the Dorsoduro
The paintings of San Marco and the Dorsoduro marks the most recent phase of Tuchel’s architectural itinerary of the city, which he continues every second year during the Architecture Biennale. In 10 years, he will have covered all of Venice and its lagoon. The works honor great local architects and include a series of miniatures that show the day-to-day life of the city through its bars, ice cream parlors, markets, shops and hotels.
Exhibit #2: Portrait of an Iconic Hotel
This series of paintings honors one of Venice’s most treasured hotels, which has recently undergone an extensive restoration. As part of the re-opening celebration, Tuchel was allowed unusual freedom. Taking advantage of that liberty, he painted views that guests see from the windows of their suites. His commission also enabled him to illustrate many architectural details, from the rooftop’s views of the Salute church to interiors of the prestigious suites, bars and restaurants and the wonderful terrace lounge and restaurant that guests have always loved to linger in, watching the ordinary and extraordinary pass by on the Grand Canal. — Ann Cochran