2017.01.10 - 02.09


Maurizio Anzeri, Arthur Arbesser, Paola Besana, Gentucca Bini, Matthew Herbert, Taisuke Koyama, Francesco Simeti, Adrian Wong, Shane Aspegren


Davide Quadrio


The King and I is a journey across space and time. It is about a far away Palace and its imaginary stories, transposed like a labirynth or a dream to Shanghai. Its common treads are mysteries and fairy tales, told by 9 contemporary artists who were inspired by, and used one material only, Alcantara®. A material, produced by Alcantara, the company, which has got thousand variations; its essential character a tactile one: a surface, a malleable covering, extremely resistant, ready to take any shape.

Following its previous experiments at the Aurora Museum in Shanghai, MAXXI museum in Rome, and at the Royal Palace in Milan, with The King and I the company Alcantara decidedly shifts its focal point and experiments to contemporary art.

This particular exhibition originates from the Royal Palace in Milan, Italy; a building which from the 14th to the 19th century was home to the governors of the city and to different dynasties of royals. Today it is the property of the Municipality of Milan and it is dedicated to art. It is in fact the city’s most prestigious exhibition spaces; one of the most important in Italy.Invited to realize a project there, Alcantara commissioned Davide Quadrio and Massimo Torrigiani, two renown international curators based between Shanghai and Milan, to develop a concept for an exhibition. The result was a collaboration with 9 artists and a beautiful site-specific and Alcantara-specific show; an original interpretation of the building, of what happened, or did not happen, in the past in it’ s vast, empty rooms.

Open from September to October 2016 in Milan, that show, The King and I exhibition, arrives in Shanghai in a different form, with new works and a different meaning.

“When we started to work on The King and I exhbition with the artists in Milan” says Davide Quadrio, “we started to ask ourselves what would have happened if those site-specific works, these ancient rooms reinvented by the artists would have been transported in another place, installed and brought to life in another space, in another historical building, overlooking another historical city? That’s how the idea of taking the exhibition to Shanghai came about”.

The answer is now at the Shanghai Gallery of Art, one of the most prestigious and original art spaces of the city, with an important heritage in the promotion of contemporay art in China.

The King and I is scenic and theatrical. In its new form it transports the visitors to another dimension, in a far away world, which is at the same time alien and strangely familiar time, as fairy tales and old stories join all humans and cultures in an imaginary space that means everything to everybody.

As Italian writer Italo Calvino wrote in his introduction to Italian Folktales:

“Folktales are real (…) folk stories are the catalog of the potential destinies of men and women, especially for that stage in life when destiny is formed, i.e., youth, beginning with birth, which itself often foreshadows the future; then the departure from home, and, finally, through the trials of growing up, the attainment of maturity and the proof of one’s humanity. This sketch, although summary, encompasses everything: the arbitrary division of humans, albeit in essence equal, into kings and poor people; the persecution of the innocent and their subsequent vindication, which are the terms inherent in every life; love unrecognized when first encountered and then no sooner experienced than lost; the common fate of subjection to spells, or having one’s existence predetermined by complex and unknown forces. This complexity pervades one’s entire existence and forces one to struggle to free oneself, to determine one’s own fate; at the same time we can liberate ourselves only if we liberate other people, for this is a sine qua non of one’s own liberation. There must be fidelity to a goal and purity of heart, values fundamental to salvation and triumph. There must also be beauty, a sign of grace that can be masked by the humble, ugly guise of a frog; and above all, there must be present the infinite possibilities of mutation, the unifying element in everything; men, beasts, plants, things”.

Related Videos:

The King and I at Palazzo Reale in Milan