Valerio Adami, a major figure in the Narrative Figuration movement, is returning to Galerie Templon with a new twofold exhibition.
For the first time, the Italian painter is unveiling a hitherto unknown aspect of his work: the photography he practised at the beginning of his career in the 1960s. To mark this historic event, the gallery is also showing his latest paintings, produced between 2009 and 2012 and featuring the familiar elegance of the artist-philosopher’s compositions.
The Impasse Beaubourg space is exhibiting around thirty photographs taken by Valerio Adami between 1960 and 1970 and stored in the artist’s archives ever since. The black and white prints testify to the birth of an artistic expression.
As a young classically-trained painter, Valerio Adami turned to the photographic medium in order to explore new visual stimulations. He used the camera to capture the many places he visited on his travels, from India to New York. Chronicling of the life of an artist, his photos bear witness to the development of his style, revealing his taste for composition and focus on the ordinary. Hotel rooms and lobbies, trains and cafeteria chairs inhabit the black and white images that seem to echo his paintings of the time. And yet, Valerio Adami renounced photography once and for all in the early 1970s and from then on concentrated exclusively on drawing and painting.
Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes has said: “I always imagined that there was some sort of mystery behind the flat geometric simplicity of Adami’s first canvases.” It cannot be said that Valerio Adami’s photographs hold the key to this mystery. However, their dialogue with the three major paintings from the 1960s featured in the exhibition gives rise to thoughts on the beginnings and end of an artistic journey through the century.
Enigma is also at the heart of the exhibition dedicated to his recent works. Valerio Adami puts together complex allegories in compositions that feature his favourite themes: travel, music, literature and theatre. Each scene describes “the imminence of a tragedy” (Daniel Arasse). His highly distinctive painting style, with its blocks of colours outlined in black, conjures up the fragility of life and the possibility of salvation through art. Drawing is a “way of thinking” while colour, which redefines it, gives it its character.
Born in 1935 in Bologna, Valerio Adami studied at the Brera Academy in Milan. He began exhibiting his work in 1958, including at Documenta III in Germany (1964), the Jewish Museum New York (1968), the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (1970), the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris (1985) and the Tel Aviv Museum in Israel (1996). He recently oversaw the creation of a foundation dedicated to drawing based in Meina (Italy). He took part in the major exhibition on Narrative Figuration at the Grand Palais in Paris (2008) and exhibited at the Boca Raton Museum of Art in Florida in 2010