A retrospective with works from 1936 to 2003. Rama represents the first of a generation of artists to explore the theme of female identity, making explicit reference to the body and female sexuality. Often likened to Italy's equivalent of Louise Bourgeois, Rama is finally receiving the long overdue international recognition that she deserves. This exhibition offers a complete insight into her artistic production, and comprises over 100 works.
BALTIC presents the first ever UK solo exhibition by Carol Rama - a unique retrospective with works from 1936 - 2003. Rama represents the first of a generation of artists to explore the theme of female identity, making explicit reference to the body and female sexuality. Often likened to Italy's equivalent of Louise Bourgeois, Rama is finally receiving the long overdue international recognition that she deserves, although she has been esteemed for many years in Italy, where she has spent her entire life. This exhibition - the first retrospective of her work - offers a complete insight into her artistic production, and comprises over 100 works.
The exhibition starts with the raw and violently erotic, autobiographical watercolours created from 1936-1940, during the mental illness of the artist's mother and the darkest moments of Fascist rule in Italy. It goes on to explore the development of Rama's career, from the watercolours of the 40's in which female nudes are depicted tied to hospital beds, with limbs amputated, through to her abstract works of the 50's and her compositions of the 60's, when her interest in human bodies and organic materials was explored through the use of actual objects such as animal claws, corks, skins and tyres. In the 80's and 90's Rama returns to figuration, and her images reveal new protagonists the mad cow, Birnam and Buster Keaton, painted or drawn on old maps or pieces of used paper. Today, at eighty-six, she returns again to the theme of the body and her work continues to speak volumes to a younger generation of artists.
Throughout her career Rama has had a great ability to anticipate many of the current trends in contemporary art and for such reason she was awarded the Golden Lion for lifetime achievement at the 50th edition of the Venice Biennale.
The exhibition is curated by Guido Curto and Giorgio Verzotti, co-produced by the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo and MART, Museo di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto, where it has been previously presented in March-June 2004 and September-November 2004 respectively.
Olga Carolina Rama, known to the art world as Carol Rama, was born in Turin on 17 April 1918. In the 30's she frequented the studio of artist Felice Casorati (1883 - 1963) and it was here that she began to make her first portraits. In the 30's and 40's she depicted female nudes in watercolour on paper. Works like Nonna Carolina (1936) and Appassionata (1941) come from this, and anticipate by many years the neoavantgarde contemporaries such as the Post- Humans. In the 50's she took part in the abstract movement of MAC (Movement of Concrete Art) and showed this work at the Venice Biennale in 1948 and 1950. In the 60's Rama left MAC although she maintained a special interest in the organic aspects she displayed in her youth.
This was the period of the bricolages, a term representing her compositions on paper or canvas, incorporating fake glass eyes and other objects such as nails, claws, syringes. In the 70's Rama began to add inner tubes from bicycles to these bricolages which were dissected, opened-up and glued on in numerous different ways. In the 80's Rama moved decisively back to figuration and by 1991 her works were once again characterised by an intense and vivid use of colour and populated with some of the familiar figures of her early work.
An exhibition catalogue, written and edited by Guido Curto, lecturer in art history at the Turin Art Academy (Accademia Albertina di Belle Arti di Torino) and Giorgio Verzotti, Chief Curator at MART, Museo di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto, accompanies the exhibition. It includes texts by Guido Curto, Giorgio Verzotti, Francesco Bonami and Judith Kirshner and copies will be available from the BALTIC shop.
Carol Rama Conference - Friday 11 March
To celebrate this major retrospective, BALTIC is hosting a conference exploring the issues raised by Rama's work.
BALTIC BALTIC is a major international centre for contemporary art situated on the south bank of the River Tyne in Gateshead, England. BALTIC presents a constantly changing, dynamic and ambitious programme of complimentary exhibitions and events with a strong emphasis on new commissions. BALTIC has welcomed more than 1.5 million visitors, since opening to the public in July 2002.
Preview: Friday 21 January, 19.00-21.00
BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art - South Shore Road - Gateshead
Opening hours: Mon, Tues, Wed, Fri, Sat, Sun 10.00 - 18.00, Thurs 10.00 - 20.00