Palazzo Monti, a house for contemporary art in the heart of Brescia
A sumptuous thirteenth-century palace transformed into an innovative incubator of contemporary creativity.
In the historic center of Brescia, a city that boasts a history spanning over three thousand years, stands a majestic thirteenth-century palace which has been hosting artistic residences since 2017 under the supervision of its young founder. Born in Bergamo but originally from Brescia, Edoardo Monti is a collector and curator who, after a long experience abroad - first in London and then in New York, where he was working in the world of fashion at the time - decided to launch a daring cultural project whose winning recipe is based on three simple ingredients: homesickness, the desire to finally give expression to his passion for contemporary art and a family building at the time free of tenants that deserved to return to new life . Just over five years ago the first residency and the first event open to the public - a solo exhibition by the Danish artist Leonardo Anker Vandal -,
"I went back and forth between Brescia and New York for almost two years, both for the need for a stable income to be able to finance the first projects and installations necessary to make the space habitable for several artists at the same time, and because I wanted to be sure that it was a project that could survive and function for years to come", says Monti. The values and intentions that characterize the activity of Palazzo Monti have remained unchanged over the years. On the one hand, the constant search for national and international talents - despite the fact that every month they receive hundreds of applications from artists who spontaneously ask to be admitted to the residency project -, on the other, the total openness towards both emerging and established artists.
Today the elegant frescoed rooms that host the artists and act as incubators of their creative ideas and experimentation also host a large collection whose common thread can be identified in the language of figurative painting, of which Monti is particularly passionate. The collection is made up of more than four hundred and fifty works, two hundred of which are donations from artists who in the past participated in the residencies organized by Palazzo Monti. Not an obligation, but a gesture of spontaneous generosity that echoes one of the main aims of the project: to encourage lasting relationships and new collaborations between talents, institutions and professionals in the sector. "I am often invited by galleries, both Italian and foreign, to curate exhibitions and it comes naturally to me to involve artists that I have learned to know thanks to the residency. I myself live inside the building and spend my days with the artists", says the founder. The remaining works are personal acquisitions made by Monti over the years in galleries or directly from young emerging artists.
2020 marked a new beginning for Palazzo Monti. Thanks to the limitations on international travel, Monti and his team took the opportunity to dedicate themselves to an impressive search for new emerging names on the Italian territory and to a profound reorganization of the internal structure of Palazzo Monti; all accompanied by targeted renovation interventions aimed at preserving the architectural prestige of the building. In the years to come, Palazzo Monti's efforts will focus on three main fronts: expanding collaboration opportunities with foreign and Italian partners to support the work of "former students"; increase the network of contacts with local artisans and companies, essential to technically support the artists' production; increasingly improve the permanence and training experience of artists in residence. Obviously without neglecting the quality of the cultural offering, never predictable and always oriented towards research and experimentation.
It is precisely by virtue of these assumptions that Palazzo Monti promoted the ambitious artistic project of the Italian artist Alessandro di Pietro, which saw the involvement - in various capacities - of other Italian and international institutions, including the Italian Council and the Watermill Center in New York. A traveling exhibition entitled Ghostwriting Paul Thek: Time Capsules and Reliquarieswhich through painting, sculpture and video investigates the unpredictable paths that the research of the American artist Paul Thek would have taken if he had not died prematurely. The project is an extraordinary journey through bureaucracy, artisanal production and the lives of two artists from different centuries that began in 2018, when Monti came into contact with di Pietro's artistic universe for the first time. From this fortuitous meeting a fruitful collaboration was born which culminated in the award from the Italian Council, a program aimed at supporting contemporary Italian art in the world. At the end of the annual mandate, the exhibition will have crossed two continents, three countries and seven cities: from the Watermill Center in New York to the CAN in Neuchâtel (Switzerland), from Turin to Naples via Rome and, obviously, Brescia. «There is a thin and elegant line that connects all of Alessandro's works: his research is based on linguistic structures and cinematographic grammars. This exhibition, which opens in November at Palazzo Monti, perfectly stages hybrid environments, adopting methodologies capable of generating new narratives."