Spotlight

Valerio Adami

Valerio Adami, L’uovo rotto, 1964. Courtesy: Gió Marconi, Milan

Valerio Adami, L’uovo rotto, 1964. Courtesy: Gió Marconi, Milan

Valerio Adami is considered to be one of the most original artists of the Narrative Figuration movement, which developed in Italy and Europe in the Sixties. This exhibition showcases a selection of works that, created before 1964, stand out for the particularly dynamic interplay between expressive abstraction and stylized figuration. Adami attempted to destroy the old visual conventions from within, in order to rebuild a new figurative ground. He grasped that it was necessary to work on a sort of phenomenality of the image: on its vital essence, dynamic and therefore concrete. A genuinely revolutionary attitude on which the most authentic contemporary art is based: from Cubism to Surrealism. Adami’s work belongs in the current channel of research anchored in an authentic modern tradition. In his pictures, the image is not submitted to a play of cause and effect in a superficially mechanical sense. Rather, it yields to a dense logic of relations.

“What’s important is not to explore new visual ideas but to clarify and give order to the way we represent the real world in which we live, make it available and so on,” writes the artist. “To provide our daily reality with a composition and a way of using it: pick out all the elements it is composed of. To make use of everyday language, the kind used by people at the café, in the supermarket, where the cashier looks only at the price labels and blips one after the other. My only worry is the automatic doors that open as you leave, their glazing represented by dashes in the comic-strips. To find the concrete origin of the most intimate impulses. To take account of the complexity of facts, of other people’s experiences, of the values of the past, and so forth.”

Valerio Adami was born in Bologna (Italy) in 1935, and after moving to Milan studied at the Brera Academy of Fine Arts. While in Paris in 1952 Adami met up with other foreign artists such as Matta and Wilfredo Lam, who both became close friends; and during his stay in London in 1958 Adami frequented Richard Hamilton and Francis Bacon. During the 1960s Adami asserted himself as one of the principal exponents of the Nuova Figurazione movement, and took part in the Paris exhibitions “Figuration narrative dans l’art contemporaine” (1965), and “Bande dessinée et figuration narrative” (1967), and in a retrospect held at the ARC (Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris) in 1970.

As his name become internationally known, he was invited to exhibit at Documenta III in Kassel (1964); at the Galleria Schwarz and Studio Marconi in Milan (1965), the latter marking the start of a long-standing collaboration; the Venice Biennale; the I.C.A. in Boston; the Jewish Museum in New York (1968); the Museo de Bellas Artes in Caracas (1969); the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York (1969).  In 1985 the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris hosted a retrospective of his work, which, with the addition of paintings from Italian collections, was subsequently mounted at the Palazzo Reale in Milan. In the ensuing years his most important exhibitions included: IVAM in Valencia (1990); the Fondazione alle Stelline in Milan (1996), Museum of Modern Art in Tel Aviv (1997); the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Buenos Aires (1998); the Frissiras Museum in Athens (2004); and in Paris (2008). In 1997 Adami set up the Fondazione Europea del Disegno in Meina, on Lake Maggiore. Adami has published many writings since 1986, among them Les règles du montage: Sinopie (1989) and Dessiner: les gommes et les crayons (2002). Some of the most recent exhibitions have been held at Fondazione Marconi (2009 and 2016), the Pinacoteca Comunale Casa Rusca, Locarno (2010), Galleria Tega, Milan (2012), the MAMAC, Nice (2013), and at Ravenna City Art Museum (2013); Secession, Wien (2016); Valerio Adami. The Narrative Line, Mayor Gallery, London and Valerio Adami. Metafisiche e Metamorfosi, Galleria Muciaccia, Roma (2017).  The artist lives and works in Paris, Monte Carlo and Meina on Lake Maggiore.