New York, 235 Bowery
When Carol Rama passed away at the age of 97 in 2015, she was almost unknown in the U.S., although her expressionistic and uncanny paintings of human body had influenced a wide range of artists on both sides of the Atlantic. Her paintings and drawings that contain eerie tone of Frida Kahlo’s self portraits in bed and Louise Bourgeois’ empowering depictions of female sexuality find the recognition they deserve with a long-due New Museum exhibition titled Antibodies.
Born in Turin in 1918, Rama was a true 20th century European artist who witnessed the horrors of World War II and the chaos of human rights and women’s liberation movements around the globe while observing her country’s transition through Industrial Revolution. All these collective elements of history find their representation in Rama’s highly personal and subliminal interpretation of corporeality and human condition. Desire, decay, and intimacy evolve into socio-political notions through which the self-taught artist juxtaposes mesmerizing alternatives to reality.
“From her first watercolors of the thirties, Rama invents her own visual grammar that contrasts with representations of sexuality in modernism: at the same time mutilated and threatening, violated and irreducibly desirable, the female body is presented as active and vital. The carnal palette of Fauvism serves her to support a subversive proposal: the intensity of the colors reserved for the vulva or tongue denote the resistance of the body to dominating forces and subjugating institutions,” reads the press release of her 2014 retrospective The Passion According to Carol Rama which opened at the Irish Museum of Modern Art.
Antibodies runs through September 17th.