Valerio Adami is an Italian painter and printmaker known for his fragmented scenes that allude to literary themes. Influenced by British and American Pop art and a little by French Cloisonnism, Adami's works obliquely suggest parts of figurative images using shapes of flat, saturated colour bordered by black lines.Read More
His work was seen as a foil to Abstract Expressionism, being regarded as a form of Neo-Figuration. Because of his use of recognisable imagery, Adami is linked to the Narrative Figuration (French Pop) movement, popular in France in the 1960s with artists like Jacques Monory, Erró, and Gérard Schlossler.
Raised in Bologna, Adami studied drawing and painting at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera in Milan (1951—1954) when he was only 16, after having previously received encouragement from Oskar Kokoschka in Venice. Adami then went to Paris in 1955, where he met Wilfredo Lam and Roberto Matta, and initially became interested in Surrealism and Expressionism.
Valerio Adami's works are primarily inspired by French Cloisonnism and Pop artists, especially Roy Lichtenstein with his interest in comics and advertisements. In 1964, Adami turned to a graphic style, no longer modulating his colours but making them saturated within flat planes to create disturbing images like disconnected body parts in domestic interiors.
With their intensely contrasting hues and acute angles, the paintings have a shattered, prismatic quality while still pertaining to a narrative, fable, or myth. His cartoon-like compositions start off as drawings based on banal media photographs found in newspapers or magazines, and usually have a satirical edge.
Adami has also incorporated portraits of various intellectuals in his works. These include giant figures in literature, music, history, art, and philosophy, attracting in Adami's treatment much attention from novelists and philosophers such as Italo Calvino and Jacques Derrida.
Typical examples of Adami paintings include Il gilet di Lenine (1972), Interno con figura di donna e poltrona (1968/1969), Bedroom Scene (1969), Club Privato (Momento) Piccola Gimnastica da Camera, 1970 (1970).
Adami makes a great many lithographs, screen prints, and posters. These are often deliberately unsigned, but still popular.
Examples include Derrière le Miroir Adami (1970), The Red Guard (1974), and The Circus (1990).
Valerio Adami has been the subject of both solo and group exhibitions, including four retrospectives in the 1980s and 90s in Paris, Tel Aviv, Buenos Aires, and Florida. In 1968 and 1986 he contributed to the Venice Biennale, and in 1964, to documenta III in Kassel.
Solo exhibitions include VALERIO ADAMI — Immagine e pensiero, Dep Art Gallery, Milan (2022); Valerio Adami: The Eighties, Templon, Paris (2019); Valerio Adami, Templon, Brussels (2016); Valerio Adami — Les années 60, Galerie Laurent Strouk, Paris (2012).
Group exhibitions include Estampes, Galerie Christiane Vallé, Clermont-Ferrand, France (2021); NARRATIVE FIGURATION 60s—70s, Richard Taittinger Gallery, New York (2021); PopUp Paris goes virtual, Galerie GKM, Paris (2020); Behind the Mirror, Eames Fine Art, London (2019).
Adami's work is held in the collections of Centre Pompidou, Paris; Museo d'Arte Moderna, Rome; and Museum of Modern Art, New York.
John Hurrell | Ocula | 2022