Carol Rama (b. 1918)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
Carol Rama (1918-2015)


Carol Rama (1918-2015)
signed and dated 'Carol rama 1967' (lower left)
mixed media on masonite
22¾ x 29 3/8in. (58 x 74.4cm.)
Executed in 1967
Galleria la Bussola, Turin.
Private Collection, Turin.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.
Post lot text
This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity.

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Katharine Arnold
Katharine Arnold

Lot Essay

‘Demiurge of her own spectres, prophet and follower of her own rituals, repressed werewolf, deserter of rules and social impostures, intemperate like a heretic, unbounded in her passions like a mystic, Rama keeps on plunging us and herself into the less explored swamps of the unconscious’ —L. VERGINE

‘When I paint I have no rules. Are you living in hell? Well, try to make the most of it, even there’ —C. RAMA

A rich effusion of form and colour, Carol Rama’s Bricolage (1967) exudes the passion of its creator. Dolls’ eyes, bristling with synthetic lashes, stare forth from an explosive surface of blood red, royal purple and earth-dark paint. These startling optical constellations – twenty pairs in total, grouped in three large clutches with a solitary owl-like duo dilating to the lower right – are joined by masses of metallic beads, which evoke eruptions of the skin as much as a bejewelled, glamorous sensuality. Bricolage is an outstandingly expressive example of Rama’s assemblages of the 1960s, which employ mixed media including false eyes, claws, beads and resin on canvas as part of her tumultuous investigations into her own sexuality and inner life. The title Bricolage evokes a DIY sensibility, as if these disturbing stares are gathered from the bric-a-brac of Rama’s daily existence; the eyes also conjure Luis Buñuel’s seminal Surrealist film Un Chien Andalou (1929), whose dream logic and shocking imagery were profound influences on the artist.

When first exhibited in her home city of Turin in 1945, Rama’s works caused huge scandal and her exhibition was shut down by police on the grounds of obscenity. The scatological, fetishistic and explicitly erotic drawings and paintings of this early period set out the themes that would preoccupy her until her death, aged 97, in 2015 – by which time her art’s richly intelligent psychosexual explorations had brought her to wide acclaim as a sophisticated Italian counterpart to Louise Bourgeois. Peering eerily out at the viewer, the crowded eyes in Bricolage evoke a visceral sense of voyeurism, while the churning, fleshy paint is suggestive of libidinous bodies; the work’s forceful drama conveys the unnerving, overwhelming supremacy of Id over Ego, turbulent with unstoppable and primal power. ‘Everyone has a tropical disease inside him that he attempts to cure,’ she has said; ‘I cure it by painting’ (C. Rama, quoted in Carol Rama: Self Portrait, exh. cat. Castello di San Giorgio, Legnano, Turin 2008, p. 32). Replete with the strengths of her unique vision, Rama’s sensational theatre of fetishism and obsession demands that we return its gaze.

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