When, in 2008, the author, Paolo Giordano, brought out his celebrated book, “The Solitude of Prime Numbers” he probably knew from the beginning how strong and bombastic his writing was for the time. However, he perhaps did not realise back then that he had written a book even more powerful and universal than the story it tells.
In fact, the great merit of this writer, following his publication, was that he had created an identity and that he had, for want of a perfect description, enclosed it within a category. In other words, the merit in what he had done was to have finally given a name, and some common characteristics, to a club brimming with people, or human beings, whose agitation and restlessness in life could not be summed up in the narrowness of one single adjective. It was for this reason that he immediately became aware of the critical need for a metaphor, or even for a phrase, that could encompass and describe all those tormented souls he had written about. It is through this metaphor, and its meaning, that he created a standard and a type of definition; basically like a circle, a circle of prime numbers in fact.
And yet, there was another thing that Paolo Giordano had probably not envisioned. This is that when something works well - be it a category, a definition or any sort of abstraction - it brings to life a whole series of mechanisms and subcategories. These seem to be a natural consequence of a central principal, inside which our mind naturally and harmoniously seems to navigate once we have aligned to it. On this basis we can safely say there has never been an exact and precise defining point from which Clelia Adami's works have seemed to emerge. Therefore, they must surely be attributable to this kind of sub-category, and thus identifiable through such a definition of Odd Numbers. Also, if we wanted to take this even further and give Giordano’s book a general title that could evoke, inspire, and also match the lyricism of his work, we could aptly call it The Disquiet of Odd Numbers.
Clelia’s subjects are odd ones. They are not odd by number, but in the other sense of the word: that is to say, they are essentially sinister, tormented, troubled, agitated and distressed. They suggest a deafening silence amidst the screams, albeit never a passive or sleepy one. This is so apparent that these screams can almost be heard as we scrutinize the artist’s forceful and energetic lines, which give body and structure to her subjects. They are heard neither by us, nor by the spectator, but by the subjects themselves. Across Clelia's canvases, these search amongst themselves, calling out, desiring, and looking at each other insinuatingly and intrusively. It is as if they are aware of the inhumane circumstances into which they have been forced and are now trapped, and in which they are relegated and imprisoned, though not left for dead. The contours on the canvases seem to pulsate, while the colours and lines scream to be heard. They scream with a unified and raucous voice that seems to be heard by all, but understood only among themselves.
While prime numbers are only divisible by themselves, more fittingly odd numbers, on their own, belong to an unbalanced and afflicted world. Through Clelia’s bitter, burgeoning, expressive, forced, and virile canvases these seem to be emerging and breaking out of this inflicted and painful world. This is what we can understand from Clelia's paintings.
They connect well with each other and discard all subtleties by virtue of their determined and elusive presence. This is enigmatic, evasive, penetrating, and is seen in the gazes of many of the subjects, especially the females. These seem to want to shake themselves free from the invisible chains that – while not showing any graphic or figurative sign – the artist has, metaphorically, bound them in, and from which they clearly need to break away urgently.
The work of Clelia Adami is like an ode to freedom, urging us to find the courage to confront our own demons and fears; to delve into our subconscious minds. It is like a manual for our emotions, intended for those searching for their own pain in art, which, generally speaking, will always be an oddity.
Monday, 3 September 2018