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Chiara Donà Delle Rose

by AdminAg

If De Tocqueville had passed through the Serenissima…

Written by Monica Camozzi, photos by Luca De Nardo

When entering Palazzo Donà dalle Rose, you are overwhelmed by multiple sensations. The first is cinematographic, of Visconti’s memory, suspended between beauty and mystery.

The second is philosophical: it brings to mind how Friedrich Nietzsche defined art, the supreme creative force. The artist is the primary representation of the ‘beyond’ man (as Übermensch should be translated, which has nothing egoic about it, it simply means beyond). As Chiara Donà dalle Rose says, the artist is very close to God.

And you feel carried away to a ‘beyond’, entering here. History reigns, that of a Republic that ‘has known no wars, has lived 1600 years of prosperity, faithful to the Lion of St. Mark, which also claimed its independence from the papacy’. This can be clearly seen in the painting in the central hall, where Pope Sixtus crowns Leonardo Donà dalle Rose with a grimace of ill-concealed annoyance, conferring on him the roses from which the ancient family takes its name, accepting in spite of himself the freedom of thought and the claim of a culture that rested on free trade and the healthy principles of good government of a particularly avant-garde Republic.

Res mercatoria is one of the highest expressions of exchange between human beings, as Marco Polo tells us very well,’ Chiara explains

She’s of noble and very ancient Hapsburg and Norman ancestry, wife of Count Francesco Donà dalle Rose, creator together with her husband of a foundation that aims to protect Italian culture.
donadallerose (12)

Jurist, patron of the arts, mother of Maria Vittoria and Carlo, metaphysically clear-eyed, courtly by training and profoundly contemporary by experience of daily life.

‘This city welcomed people from halfway around the world, the fondaci were an expression of that. The ghetto itself was a place of free trade where the community of Jewish belief could beat its own currency’.

La démocratie en Amérique…under the sign of the Gonfalone?
“The founding charter of the United States of America was openly inspired by that of the Republic of Venice”.
Welcoming, preserving, protecting. This family’s mission seems to unravel over the centuries with its precious skein, like the golden filaments of the ancient textiles that were produced by the Modica Barons on the island of Malta and the patrician Counts Donà dalle Rose in Venice. One of the most precious ones casts its glow from the antique pink of a triclinium, resting not far from a Van Dyke, in front of the shrine with the Rolling Stones’ guitar with Andy Warhol’s first cover.

Here, every breath, every brick, every canvas is history. The contemporary binds with the ancient in a space-time continuum, the immense spheres crossed by light by Rosamundi, an artist who composes images using jellyfish pigments, match the urban lexicon of Banksy, a frequent guest in these secret rooms. Chiara’s transparent eyes convey the passion of research, the joy and responsibility of a modern patronage that merges with her soul as a jurist. Safeguarding art and protecting man become two sides of the same coin.

It is no coincidence that one of Chiara’s protégés is a Syrian refugee who put his existence at risk to save women and children. And it is no coincidence that the day before our arrival, some of the last descendants of the Lakota, who share a sincere friendship with Chiara, had gathered at Palazzo Donà dalle Rose.

These populations have been relegated, their children taken from their birth parents and transferred to other families to homologate them to the prevailing culture. But having relegated them was a missed opportunity

I love the nomadic peoples of the world, from the American Indians to the Bedouins of the Sinai to the Tuaregs of the Sahara desert. The man who lives in close contact with nature is free.

What’s culture?
There are many ways in which man can live on the earth’s surface. It all starts with language, the way you speak is connected to a way of existing, of resting your eyes on the world. There are as many cultures as there are ways of expressing oneself. 

We all suffer from a contagious form of cultural relativism, we think that our concept of democracy and culture is the winning one, worthy of being exported, implanted, but it is not so.

What about art? What is its power?donadallerose (17)
Art is one of the fastest and most immediate ways to communicate what you have inside with another individual and with the community. Art does not need translators, whereas language can become a prison for the soul, as metaphorically depicted by Plato in Phaedrus and Phaedon.  Can an interpreter really translate all the little perceptions and gaps in my mother tongue? In art, I was inspired by Kandinsky, an artist who, like a watershed, sanctioned the end of modern art and the beginning of contemporary art. And I created the Biennial of Sacred Art by giving this word a precise meaning, BIAS, i.e. art that goes beyond prejudice, i.e. the judgment that prejudices knowledge.

What do you mean by Biennale of Sacred Art? What does it stand for?
The human being is sacred in every expression. Regardless of where he is born, what language he speaks, what passport he has. The artist is always close to God, in the sense that the ontological question touches him by definition. Even those who are atheists implicitly admit the inner question of wondering why we are here, what is the meaning of our existence, what is the limit with respect to an infinity that we cannot conceive. The artist is the one who perceives, anticipates. He doesn’t have to be aware, he intuitively perceives, he often subverts.

Can we define art free?
Today art is not free, it is less and less so. I would say it is very much state art. Once upon a time, a trace of an aesthetic nature was followed more, the artist had to be good and publicly recognised as such, but he left the imprint of his vision of the world, which was not always understood by the patrons. There were hidden rebuses in the characters, in the colours, in the projections, there were codes that were the artist’s freedom to print.

Has the liquid digital society had an impact on art?
In this rarefied, web-driven world, there is a presumed ubiquity of man, but it is a huge presumption.

Actually, you can’t transmit everything over the web, the infinite essence of man and the feelings he releases can’t be tele transmitted

However, this society in which we virtually travel, see a thousand things, this mixing of races, the thought of being in several places at once forces us to update our vision. The very concept of nation, of territoriality, in art makes little sense, it is anachronistic, the world atlas can be subverted at any moment. The only thing that is certain is the spirituality contained in the artist’s soul that goes beyond his or her nationality.

In Bias there is the philosophical pavilion, the lost religions pavilion, the Zoroastrian, Abrahamic, scientific, esoteric, Buddhist, Hindu, how did you conceive them?
The common denominator is not the place of birth. I have divided the pavilions according to spirituality, making Muslims, for example, discover the many coincidences between passages from the Bible and the Suras of the Koran. Jesus as one of the prophets, Our Lady as the most important woman in creation. Protestants often look at a Pinturicchio or a Giorgione without knowing that that is the Madonna and Child because in their church architecture gospel characters are not images to be displayed in churches.

It is in ignorance that fanaticism is born. Art with its gentleness, with its strength, can catapult you into true knowledge.

In the end, whoever destroys the figure of Our Lady also destroys his own religion. But the concept of sacredness linked to Bias is very wide. Those without a god are gathered in the philosophical pavilion, but sacredness is also present in science. Painters like Balla or Dali belong in the scientific pavilion, expressing time and the dynamism of physics, De Chirico on the other hand would be placed in the lost religions pavilion with all his iconographic references to polytheistic religions, to ancient Greece.

Have you ever rejected a work because you met the artist and didn’t like him as a person?
It happened that the artistic idea didn’t really belong to the person who proposed it to me, some had copied or had made the brilliant idea of others their own or, having the economic means, had simply packaged it better. By profession I have an inquisitive tendency, I end up finding out, and in evaluating an artist I also look a lot at his innovativeness and his authenticity, although often condensed into a contamination that must never, however, result in shameless stealing. I also dislike artists who confuse social and public relations fame with concrete artistic affirmation.

Is fashion a form of art?
It has always been so. In fact, its use is so democratic that it is one of the greatest artistic expressions in human history.

I created Doge Venice Carpet precisely as a lane-like format where people who have something to say in this field can put themselves on the line.

What do you think about digital art?
Art makes the dichotomy between Good and Evil sustainable, but contemporary art too often uses the pentagram of evil. Video art often extrapolates the negative. There is no longer any modesty, the overcoming of every level has made the limit of everything invisible. This compulsive consumption of virtual images, as if we were living in a supermarket: an aquarium of words and bad words in which there is no longer time and space for reflection and manual writing that runs from the brain down our arms to our fingers via the spine. There is no longer any such thing as the bad and the good.

The point is that time remains the same, we would always have 24 hours. Art could bring us back to a more natural enjoyment of things, but right now it itself has become even more chaotic.

Do you see something dehumanizing in all this running?

I see a dehumanization of time. The beauty of contemporary art is that performers, scriptwriters, actors, directors take over. Cinema for example is the art of the 20th century and the art of video makers is a concentrate of this experience. Technology allows us to do this. There is therefore a democratisation of access but there is a lack of content. Or rather, the time needed to metabolise them is lacking.

It is essential to give time for reflection, time to listen, to understand and respond, to metabolise. Art is a silent dialogue.

The question of Artificial Intelligence is almost a must at this point…
I think the definition itself is an oxymoron. Artificial conflates with intelligence. But the metaverse itself risks putting a lot of lives in front of us, always having the usual 24 hours to live them.

Your life as a jurist runs alongside your life as a patron. Don’t they conflict?
My way of being a jurist is connected with my love for humanity, for this land. I studied in Strasbourg, while working at the European Parliament, together with students of all nationalities. There I saw law as an anthropological science, it was a work experience that gave me the ingredient I needed to not stop at the quantitative data and choose the field of those who make law grow, protecting it even at the cost of their own lives.

If there were no lawyers, law would not move forward. The law changes and is perfected thanks to these scribes who study, polish and bring out the loophole.

Law is synthetic, it has many interpretations. Language is the tool that the jurist uses as the sculptor uses the chisel.

But the concept of ‘civil status’ is madness, there is no such thing as perfect law. Law is adherent to culture, one of its main and most incredible manifestations.


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