Camilla Adami

1935 | Milan, Italy
Camilla  Adami — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

© Photo: Gérard Schachmes

— Camilla Adami

Italian painter.

Camilla Adami lives and works in Italy (Meina, Lago Maggiore) and France (Paris). She graduated from the Fine Arts School of Milan (Academia di Brera) and married the visual artist and painter Valerio Adami, whose work became very popular from the 1960-70s. After having given up painting when she married, Camilla began to work again, first as a set designer for the theatre in France at the Carpentras Festival, then for the French television channel FR3. She was hardly a beginner when she took up painting again in the 1980s; indeed, she had become acquainted with major contemporary artists, taken part in debates about modernity, and acquired solid intellectual knowledge of the arts, gained maturity, and developed high standards. Although figuration was no longer at the forefront at the time, she chose to explore this specific domain in her search for a visceral relationship with art. Her choice of large formats provided her with enough space to let movements flow continuously. She drew a series of portraits of intellectuals in lead pencil, treating them in close-up, like photographs, in a style that focused deeply on the eyes, closing in on the faces and making the lines jut out with hyperrealistic and ghostly detail. The portraits of Luciano Berio, Italo Calvino, Jacques Dupin, Jean-François Lyotard, Jorge Semprún, and Saul Steinberg were all drawn in this manner. Her first exhibition was held at the Galleria del Naviglio in Milan.

For years, Adami has worked on her drawing in lead pencil, charcoal and coloured pencils with a stunning precision that gives her nudes an amazing vibratory texture, as can be seen in Vertigo (Caryatid), 1985, and Pencil on canvas, 1986-87. During the same period, she began to paint with oils and acrylic on even larger formats (up to 220 × 550 cm) and polyptich compositions. The series Retroscena (1999, 2003, 2006) uses mixed techniques, charcoal and pastel on canvas and comes with a DVD projection; Magic rituals, Contaminations, and Conflicts also experiment with different materials and techniques. The series of eight portraits entitled Drag Queens represents blurred faces that delve deep into the theatre of human transformations. With her series Primates (from 2001, charcoal on canvas, 195 × 144 cm), Adami has undertaken a new exploration of the portrait: by choosing to depict great apes, the artist suggests new ways of relating to the living world. This unusual outlook on the world has prompted a variety philosophical considerations: Jacques Derrida analysed the notions of “untameable” and “stubbornness”; Avital Ronell*, the artist’s portraits; and Michel Onfray, the “shamanism” of the painter.

Mireille Calle-Gruber

From the Dictionnaire universel des créatrices
© 2013 Des femmes – Antoinette Fouque
© Archives of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions
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