Culture /

Art and Creation: All Eyes on Venice

What do you think of when you imagine Venice? Lower your eyelids. Is it the pure white stone of the Rialto bridge that blinds you? Is it the gold of the Basilica that confuses you, while Saint Mark’s Square dances around you, in a circle of marble and lions? For every memory of a hit-and-run tourist in which the chaos of the crowd in Riva degli Schiavoni will resound, in the mind of a Venetian there will be the scarlet death of a day drowned in a spritz. Consumed on a swinging “topa”, docked at the Erbaria pier. 


For Yasmine Helou, it is the sun dancing on the water that forms the first frame looming in her mind when she thinks of Venice. “The water of the lagoon,” Andrea and Giulia Vecchiato and echo her sentiment. “I am a lagoon boy,” says Marco Valmarana, “I’m madly in love with its noise, its light.” And then Vittorio: “The color, which vibrates more thanks to the water. In fact, one of my favorite things about Venice is the boats with very few people in the midday sun.” 


Who are Yasmine, Andrea, Marco, Vittorio and Giulia? They are Venetians. In San Marco, Castello, Cannareggio, Giudecca, Murano and the Lido are the calli and canals through which they unravel and from which they draw inspiration for their work. Yasmine is probably setting up her next exhibition at Fondamenta Sant’Anna, in a corner of Castello that she is determined to promote. Andrea is rehearsing pieces for his upcoming concert, while Marco, if he is in town, could be lurking in some corner of the lagoon capturing images. Vittorio has stolen the images with his mind, and is in his lab, imprinting them on canvas. Giulia is in her lab, a gavel in her hand. We met with them to talk about their work, their creativity, their art. And of their bond with Venice and its cultural panorama.


Vittorio Marella


Venetian born in 1997, after high school he studied astronomy in Padua, but did not complete the course to devote himself to what is “more deeply his” and “more than a passion… a need”: painting. A precocious need, his first drawing probably “a whale dated 1998”. Since making this choice, he has started to work with various galleries around Italy and exhibitions abroad. On December 14, at the Gallery Linea D’Acqua, he opened his first solo exhibition in Venice, open until January 31 2022. 


“Every work of mine inevitably comes from a personal experience. I realized that all my ideas that become paintings come from daily impressions. Painting for me is a tool to investigate nature, I have no purpose other than to recreate a lived experience, to be able to share it or to be able to immortalize it and relive it longer in order to get the most out of it. In my case, as with many others, painting stems from an obsession with the world. This attitude has led me to often paint Venice since I live there. Since I was born there, it is inevitable that its atmosphere drastically influences my work. Clearly I have no interest in painting a recognizable and stereotypical Venice. I think that only a Venetian or a particularly fond tourist could recognize it in my works. There is and there isn’t. Certainly by creating such solitary images I also want to talk about the problem of depopulation that we have because of bad tourism. At the same time, the paintings want to be a way to say that those who still live in Venice are there, even though they are fewer and fewer.”


“The Venetian galleries that work without too many preconceptions, and function according to the taste and intuition of the owner, are the ones I prefer. Those galleries have the possibility of being more interesting spaces. I hope that the art scene evolves evenly and that the different parts support each other because I find that it could be a good pillar on which to start building a more vibrant and purposeful community on the island.”


Yasmine Helou


Born in 1996, raised between Beirut and Rome, she studied in Paris and Venice, accumulating experience in art galleries and museums. In 2018 she co-founded a.topos, a curatorial collective with an exhibition space near the Arsenale. Since then she has been working for several cultural projects and exhibitions such as the Malta Pavilion at the 2019 Art Biennale, the DK Zattere Curatorial Lab of the V-A-C Foundation, or collaborating with international institutions such as Ikona Gallery. In May 2021 she curated the exhibition Sinkingscapes, which marked the first in a series of cultural events that have animated the spaces of Venice Art Projects ever since. 

“My first concern has always been proximity and accessibility to the Venetian public. With Venice Art Projects we have created an exciting program of eclectic exhibitions and events, giving new life to abandoned places in the Castello district. The initiatives promoted are often imagined and executed in cooperation with other entities in the cultural and artistic world, precisely to create situations of dialogue and exchange of ideas. For example, the evenings of sound performances with 100 Venezia, a cultural association that promotes sound artists active in the Venetian territory, or the first event of the artistic residency of Arts Territory in Venice, Phi-creature, with which we organized an evening of projections and discussion with the artists. Having very particular exhibition spaces, all former commercial premises, in a very Venetian area, the links between artistic production and places are all the more incredibly strong.” 

“Venice has a very eclectic art scene, and an extremely dynamic emerging and underground scene. The number of artist and curator collectives and events dedicated to culture are increasingly important, all with a very precise identity, I’m thinking of Zolfo rosso, Spazio Friche, Punch. Galleries such as Alma Zevi, Alberta Pane, Beatrice Burati Anderson, manage to look to the future, proposing a wide range of artists. Artists’ residencies are becoming more and more numerous, from Bevilacqua La Masa to In-Edita. The artistic and cultural life of Venice does not stop at the Biennale, and must continue to live outside the mainstream tourist schemes. Venice has always been a favorite place for artists, writers, musicians and it must continue to be so. We need to create new projects designed for Venice, in Venice, with people who believe in the potential of the city, giving more space to independent artistic creation, and creating a real hub of artistic and cultural experimentation.”


Andrea Vecchiato



Class of 1996, born and raised in Venice. In life he plays and teaches transverse flute. A graduate of the Benedetto Marcello Conservatory, he studied at the Accademia Perosi in Biella and at the Strasbourg Conservatory. Returning to Venice, he completed his master’s degree in flute at the Conservatory of Venice. Classical approach, but he plays in different formations and does not set limits of any kind. He plays with orchestras, contemporary and jazz/rock ensembles and as a soloist. In Venice he collaborates mainly with electronic and experimental music projects. 


“As far as musical research is concerned, the Biennale offers projects and concerts of the highest level and international scope, also giving young musicians valuable work opportunities. The Giorgio Cini Foundation offers a refined selection of traditional music from all over the world, in the beautiful spaces of the island of S.Giorgio. There are many emerging realities that deal with musical research, such as PASE Platform that works with an avant-garde soundscape system, offering performances, residencies and collaborations with world-famous institutions. In the Giudecca district, there is Cosmo, a space that works with figurative and performing arts as well as music, and Ver-v, a project of former Conservatory students that is dedicated to the diffusion of electronic music. I often collaborate with them, and the projects are always interesting and supported by the strong love for music that we all share.”


Marco Valmarana


Born in 1990 from a Venetian father and a Mexican mother, Marco grew up between the Giudecca and Murano, first attending a high school focused on the arts and then IUSVE, where he studied graphic communication. He has been shooting since his high school years when his father gave him a camera. Later, during his time at university, Instagram was born; Marco began to tell his followers about Venice though his pictures. Today he works for Belmond, on the social media team, curating content for the group’s hotels in Italy, Spain and Portugal. The pandemic brought him back home, where he has had the time to stop, look around and shoot.

“Venice has given me all the elements to form myself, I have grown up accustomed to its beauty. Even when I’m out of Venice, and I have to shoot, I try to recreate it and find it elsewhere. I come back often and I desire to feel Venetian. I try to bring Venice outside and bring the outside to Venice.”

“After four years away, I came back for the lockdown. I saw the city in a different light. Before the pandemic we were flooded with tourists, we didn’t really have any idea what the truest visage of Venice looked like. As a photographer, I went to the calli and the canals and started shooting. Personally, it was an important chapter, a moment of tranquility to carve out time and take thoughtful photos. That’s how Desnua, la spolazione di Venezia was born, a photographic exhibition opened in May 2021 in the Archives of the Misericordia. It has been a meeting point between the social part of my work, my creativity and my photography. Now, a lot of creatives are back in the city, I often say that there are only a few of us and the city is unique, if we do things right, we can get noticed. If things are lacking, we are the ones who have to bring them here, to create new realities. For example, when it came to finding the spaces to exhibit Desnua, I reached an agreement with the managers, I curated their social content and advertised their location in exchange for their availability. In the same way, I am now organizing an event in collaboration with Dorsoduro 557, and I am trying to use the means at my disposal to create moments of aggregation for the city.” 


Giulia Vecchiato

Goldsmith & founder of SURI Jewelry

After graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice in 2016, she enrolled in a goldsmithing bench course in Vicenza to learn traditional techniques and start moving independently in the world of jewelry. There she realised jewelry to be her dimension. She then decided to procure the necessary equipment to set up a small workshop at home, which to this day is still her studio. SURI was born in 2018 from the desire to give an identity to her work in contemporary jewelry.

“I am interested in the material, giving it form is my way of expressing myself. I want to empower the wearer of my jewelry, I want it to be a tool to make visible the strength of each person. The jewelry is firmly connected to the body, this is the relationship that distinguishes it from an object. Jewelry can be a communication tool, a symbol, a memento, a weight that can make us more aware of our bodies.”

“Venice, my city, is an important part of my work in terms of inspiration and point of view from which to look around. The pace is slow, the light is watery and static, memory is trapped in every crack, tradition and transgression, melancholy and reiteration are everywhere. SURI is also a hymn to my city, to its damp scent, its dramas, its strength and contradictions. Each piece seeks to reveal its strength, preciousness, organicity and fragility. Venice is wonderful but also hostile and uncomfortable. In the last two years many have returned to live in the lagoon, for reasons of force majeure. This has shaken things up a bit: I can smell around me a desire to be and live the city in an active and creative way. There are so many independent realities that want to emerge.”

Photography of Federico Vespignani