“What a pity, dear children (and what horrors you missed, you youngsters), that you never saw your grandfather, with his cobbler’s chest, tremble and rave, as if tombe’, en enfance, kissing the doctors’ hands: and as for his last words, it wasn’t him who pronounced them, but Carol, on the telephone, talking about her by now comatose mother, when she said she was a woman of such exquisite politeness: and when she then added: good manners are all“ – Eduardo Sanguineti, Sept. 1972
Maccarone Gallery is proud to announce an exhibition of seminal works by CAROL RAMA, opening October 25th, 2008 and on view through December 20th.
The self-taught artist’s current presentation encompasses practice ranging from figurative drawings confronting sexual identity to intense abstractions and collage, spanning the years 1943 – 2005, with much of the iconography found in Rama's earliest works carried through to her latest. Much in common with the Surrealists or those of Arte Povera, Rama always remains far too outside the periphery to be wholly absorbed into any one subscribed ideology. The result is a life’s work as veritable innovator, never succumbing to one style, yet always depicting a concrete narrative.
In Italy, where Rama has spent most of her life, her early career began controversially, wrought with depictions of salacious scenes charged with erotic symbolism, as posed in Dorina (1943). Assuming this radical taboo-breaking position within the rigid sociopolitical environment that enveloped 1940’s Italy, Rama soon strayed from this iconography into a more abstract realm, sparking a dialogue with Movimento per l’Arte Concreta (MAC) concurrently ensuing in Milan.
The artist’s conversion to this monochromatic abstraction amends in the 1950’s. Moving away from margins of MAC, these works known as bricolage, reinstate discerning self-narrative via body-specific materials; animal claws, strips of torn tires, glass doll eyes, fur or stilettos all are tossed into the tactile mix. In the artist’s hands, these industrial world relics remain devoid of any potential nostalgic weakness. As viewers we confront an everlasting restitution of the object, recognizing defective symbols of man’s history with an assigned value of use and implied emotion: Rama always leaves us with the impression that an object has lived.
In the most recent work Rama revisits her early subject matter with a sense of energized irony and expands into the environment of contemporary society as evidenced through series like 2001’s La Mucca Pazza (The Mad Cow). Once more exploring iconographic self-awareness, the artist explains, “I like the cow because it’s mad… so it has some remarkable similarities to us…for me these are extraordinary self-portraits.” The narrative Rama has told throughout the various stages of her career, virtually calls us all to feel mired in her natural terrain. Disintegration and transformation always linger at the heart of the story. The extensive itinerary she has traveled in an effort to unearth the forms of her beginnings attest to Rama’s irrefutably unrivaled singular position among artists spanning generations, both past and present.