The paintings of Clelia Adami
Having mastered and experimented, through all her resources, with the rules and techniques of classical painting, Clelia felt a pressing need to find a direction that would allow her to fully express her individuality. Piece by piece, she chose to break down all the patterns established in her own technique, well aware of the risk that her attempt at authenticity, albeit unconventional, might actually be ineffective. Such an expressive urgency channels itself naturally into the chosen pictorial medium: within a painting's classical and traditional frame the artist seeks a mode of communication, which often proves to be anti-traditional, goes beyond rigid conventions and harmonious composition, and is the result of a personal urgency within the artist.
Clelia’s style actually sits within expressionism, and can be interpreted both in a historical sense (early twentieth century, for example Schiele, Kirchner and Kokoschka), and in a modern sense (in line with twentieth century artists such as Bacon and Freud). This is because the gaze shifts inside the subject depicted, revealing their inner truth. By doing this, Clelia cross examines herself, while also referring to her own inner understanding. This is well reflected in the figures of her works, which are always created from images that have deeply affected her and have informed her expressive urgency. As an artist, she has shifted from portraying clearly recognizable faces and bodies to barely distinguishable subjects, as the real protagonists are the colour and strokes used to create the image. Her main artistic models are, to be specific, artists of the Vienna Secession or of German Expressionism. These are then reinterpreted with her own personal touch, using brushstrokes and applying colour with a palette knife and so giving substance to her work.
It is, literally, the flourishing and non-naturalistic use of colour, in her most innovative works, which nudge Clelia towards a kind of abstract expressionism of her very own. That is insomuch as the figuration does not disappear but is, at times, transfigured by an expressive use of tonalities and, at other times, by large, dripping surges of colour. From her early artistic endeavours, and undoubtedly from her solo exhibition, “Senza condizioni” (2009) – “Unconditional”, the artist has defined her work as an intervention based on subjective and unconditional expression that reveals, through her own experience and sensitivity, a truth eradicating any other intervention that could assist in enhancing it. Over the years, her research has continued to the point of building her awareness that, in order to achieve all this, her artistic signals must be sharp, colours striking, and expressive strokes, powerful. The latter are guided but, at the same time, totally spontaneous and which presents an interior that unfolds using bold, intense and penetrating artistic signals.
While invariably based on the logic of maximum freedom of execution, the support bases and techniques used are all different. We pass from canvas to raw jute, to cardboard, to wood, and on to various metal surfaces, while the colours - oil, as well as glazes, bitumen, charcoal sticks, casts and plaster - are spread on using brushes, spatulas, sponges or makeshift tools (rags, tea towels and in the more recent works, directly with the hands). The restless anguish of the faces of the first phase of the artist’s career have, at times, been created with instinctive and emotive strokes, and then alternated with more relaxed and thoughtful ones. As her artistic awareness has been developing, the same sense of uneasiness and tragedy from the earlier phase has begun to reveal itself, this time with even more intensity and forcefulness, and acting as be the natural landing place from her earlier works.
- 2017- present
Her main subjects during this first phase of her career were human figures, at times portrayed in full length, though more often with their facial detail and gaze featured, either in the foreground, or taking a prominent position within the frame. These works involve images taken from photographs, frequently self-portraits, in which the clarity and stability of the stroke and the artistic signal are sufficient to restore humanness in the faces. In these works the eyes, wide and bright, become the central feature and seem to be the artist’s reflection on the individual's inner world. The gazes are often fixed, at first appearing calm but, in reality, full of expression, dismay and melancholy; windows into the soul of both the model portrayed and of Clelia herself. These are expressionist works that present thoughtful and inquisitive faces composed of brush strokes that are, at times, wider and softer, and at other times, sharp and fabricated. This artist can in fact be defined as an expressionist in all her respects; she embraces both the feeling and the production techniques of this art form. This is made clear through her use of energetic and non-naturalistic colours, and by her depiction of instinctive and penetrating expressions but, above all, by her search for introspection and for digging deep into the human soul with the sole purpose of bringing the truth to light (Expressionism, 2009). Unquestionable references in her works of this phase are actually eighteenth century Expressionist artists such as Schiele, as portrayed in her 2010 work (Schiele, 2010). This portrays a gaunt face in acidic tones, presented in the same style as the Austrian. In particular, this trait can be seen through the sharp and broken lines defining some of her tormented faces (Volto disegnato, 2007, – [Sketched Face]). Kokoschka also makes an appearance – a prototype for striking and intensely chromatic painting – as does Kirchner, present in some of the gaunt and angular details found in her portraits. However, her references do not stop at "historical" expressionism and continue with models from subsequent years, such as Bacon or Artaud – to whom, not surprisingly, Clelia dedicated her first academic thesis. These are especially relevant in terms of a freedom of work that has not been bound to any external canons, but to the single and special need to communicate one’s inner self. Such a stylistic choice, already present in some of the works of her first phase (Mistero di iniquità, 2010, – [Mystery of Iniquity]), crosses over into an artistic signal of expression and power, using striking and heavy colours that seem to dominate the figure, almost resulting in abstract expressionism. However, in some works expressionist anger is mitigated by more relaxed features and a delicate sensitivity (Tre volti, 2009– [Three Faces]). An honest confessional has not yet been passed down to these works, but rather a sense of pensive and disturbed contemplation. What is more, variety of expression is supported by just as many different techniques and choice of materials: use of the brush is alternated with spatulas, and oil colours are combined with glazes. Finally, where the earlier support base was the classic canvas, by 2009 this is being alternated with raw jute (the sack) and a base of metals, which will increase in subsequent phases.