Interview to Matilde Cadenti: Founder of MarignanaArte

Art galleries between lockdown and digital

SpeakART addresses to Matilde Cadenti, founder of MarignanaArte gallery in Venice, for a dialogue about how they lived the just passed lockdown period and about the potential of using digital in the sector.

SpeakArt: Hello Matilde, thank you for being here with us. Let’s start from the beginning, tell us about your educational path and about how and why MarignanaArte was born.

Matilde Cadenti: I graduated in architecture at IUAV University in Venice. As an architect, I collaborated in restoration projects of historical buildings. At the ground floor of one of these buildings, I decided to give space to my passion for contemporary art by opening MarignanaArte gallery together with my mother, Emanuela Fadalti, who is architect, collector and passionate about contemporary art too.
MarignanaArte was born in 2013 in Dorsoduro district, thus representing a sign of continuity with a history began after the Second World War with the establishment of Peggy Guggenheim Collection consecrating it as the “contemporary hub” of the city.
The space is located at the ground floor of a Gothic building of the 15th century. It has been restored with the intention of creating an environment that would leave the existing historical traces intact, without letting them become too intrusive towards the works that would later occupy it.

SpeakArt: Over the years the gallery has represented and exhibited established and new generation artists, each one with a very precise characterization. Which is the guiding thread of your choices?

Matilde Cadenti: The gallery program explores various expressions of the contemporary artistic research, paying attention both to the proposals of the new generations and to the enhancement of already established artists, with different cultural backgrounds and geographical origins.
We work with artists who use different media (painting, sculpture, photography, installations), but they are characterized by a common linguistic direction that deal with the path of the sign as a visual trace, creative process, emergency path of the emotion. They work with materials that belong to tradition renewing them from the within, translating the memory of culture into interdisciplinary proposals.
MarignanaArte is also engaged in collaborations with both private and public institutions, participating in the realization of international projects as well as being part of Venice Galleries View, an association of Venetian galleries that aims to enhance and support contemporary art.

SpeakArt: Let’s get to today: how did you manage the work in these two months of lockdown? How have your plans changed and what solutions have you adopted?

Matilde Cadenti: The lockdown arrived at a very delicate moment, immediately after the high water that hit the city in November and December, as soon as Venice seemed to be showing signs of recovery.
As far as we are concerned, we were forced to postpone the opening of two exhibitions and our participation in a fair has been canceled due to the cancellation of the event.
We have always kept our presence on social networks constant and promptly we have tried to reorganize what was pending in order to be ready for reopening. In addition, during this period we have maintained collaboration activities with other galleries participating to the realization of projects such as Storage (opening of a new site where each Venice Galleries View gallery presents a work weekly) and the conception of new events (collaboration with M9 Museum and more).

SpeakArt: The gallery has now reopened, what are your plans for the future?

Matilde Cadenti: MarignanaArte reopened on Friday May, 22 with two exhibition projects.
The gallery spaces host the second chapter of the group show I dreamed a dream, curated by Domenico de Chirico and with works by Maurizio Donzelli, Arthur Duff, Serena Fineschi, Aldo Grazzi, Silvia Infranco, Giulio Malinverni, Maurizio Pellegrin, Quayola, Donatella Spaziani and Marco Maria Zanin.
The exhibition, which reflects on the theme of dreams, is accompanied by a text by the philosopher Jonathan Molinari and by some verses by the contemporary poet Paolo Gambi, in the experimental perspective of an exploration of the relationship between visual art, literature and poetry.
The project room hosts the solo show of Giulio Malinverni Lo Giano di Giano (until July, 25), curated by Daniele Capra, which gathers a selection of the artist recent works on canvas, velvet, slate and marble.
We jave chosen reduced opening hours, in fact the gallery will be open only on Friday afternoon (from 15.00 to 19.00) and on Saturday (from 11.30 to 19.00), while on other days the exhibitions will be open by appointment. At the same time we are planning a new exhibition in conjunction with the Glass Week (the spaces of the project room will host the works of Lorenzo Passi), we are defining a show of Quayola works and with the Galleria Civica in Modena.

SpeakArt: Communication on social networks has proven to be even more fundamental in these weeks: is it a surplus for you to reach your audience? Have your strategies changed?

Matilde Cadenti: We have always been a very active gallery from the communication point of view: we take care of our website, we send newsletters to our Italian and foreign contacts monthly and we regularly post on social networks the latest news on the gallery, the reviews by articles or blogs about our artists but also photographs and videos.
It is undeniable that social networks, especially in this period, are changing the way of “getting” to contemporary art, allowing their members to access information faster and faster and to be part of a creative community in every corner of the world .
However, we are aware that in our work the direct relationship with the artwork will always remain essential and cannot be replaced by technology. It can be an excellent tool, but it cannot supplant the role of the gallery as a point of meeting and cultural exchange.

SpeakArt: As you told us, MarignanaArte is part of the Venice Galleries View circuit: was your Storage project, which is also a marketplace, born in this period or was it something already planned? What was the reaction?

Matilde Cadenti: Venice is a city with delicate balances, its inhabitants are drammatically abandoning it and the interest for contemporaryart is often focused only on events such as the Biennale and the great exhibitions of Museums and Foundations. We believe that it is essential that the contemporary art galleries network in order to enter the city cultural context more strongly, showing continuously and offering a panorama of events dedicated to a specialized public.
The idea of creating a website was already in the pipeline in order to further strengthen the identity of the association and to make it easier to find all the information about our projects. Instead, Storage was born out of the need of this moment as an attempt to create a virtual portal that can be used by visitors as a direct experience to meet artworks which are usually not accessible and to enhance the work of the artists themselves.
The feedback by our customers and from the press have been very positive. We are also satisfied with the results that are emerging from this collaboration between the galleries.

SpeakArt: Have you managed to keep in touch with your collectors who would normally have come to the gallery? How is their relationship with technology?

Matilde Cadenti: During the months of lockdown and forced closure of the exhibition spaces, we felt the desire and the need to keep the relations with our public as active and “close” as possible, despite the physical distance was separating us. So we have exploited time and multimedia at our disposal to further strengthen the identity of the gallery and its links, looking at past initiatives and thus allowing the most recent public to know the history of MarignanaArte, the exhibited artists, the organized exhibitions, the collaborations activated over the years. We are happy to say that we have had a really positive response: our most loyal audience – for example, collectors, in fact – responded with attention and participation at the initiative, but also we have also obtained new and prolific connections. Being able to arouse the right interest online, the first feedback also arrived offline: on the first day of reopening many came to the gallery to visit our two new exhibition projects, respecting the health standards and we already have numerous appointments to allow anyone interested to enjoy the safely.

SpeakArt: You were absolutely the first promoters of SpeakART. Where do you think it can be most useful for the art gallery sector? Could it also prove to be an added value for your customers?

Matilde Cadenti:We believed in SpeakART from the beginning because we think it has everything it needs to be an irreplaceable tool for the art gallery sector.
For MarignanaArte it is proving to be a valid, complete and detailed digital archive, completed with images and the possibility of inserting declarations of authenticity and documentary evidences which accompany the information concerning the works. It is a freely accessible archive at the request of the user, therefore the collectors who follow us can stay updated on our works available for sale.
The condition report tool is also extremely useful, it is essential especially when we send a work to the buyer or we lend it.

We thank Matilde Cadenti and MarignanaArte for their availability and passion, wishing to meet again for another pleasant conversation.