‘The fundamental theme, which is always present in my work, is the flow of time, understood essentially as movement in space.’ – Carlo Rea
Tornabuoni Art London presents the first solo show in the UK of the Italian artist Carlo Rea (b. Rome, 1962). Rea continues the Italian post war tradition of working with non-traditional materials – plaster, wood, gauze and ceramic, among others.
His delicate relief paintings are motionless, yet they seem in constant flux, morphing from painting into sculpture, from canvas into clay. Despite often being monochrome, his petal-like forms create a harmony of tones and shadows. His installations combine the delicate and the durable, and his body of work defies traditional categories.
Rea’s work also crosses between the visual and musical dimensions, exemplified by his sonic installation ‘Senza Titolo (Coppia di diffusori)’, 2018, which is shown in the gallery. Trained as a classical violinist and violist, the artist embraces the notion of musical time and chromatic rhythms in his work. Some of his simplest works create a luminous surface vibration by stretching gauze veils over stucco to give a moiré effect. Their undulating surfaces seem to move as the viewer changes position.
Tornabuoni Art London seeks to distill the range of Rea’s artistic production and bring this artist to the British public for the first time.
The exhibition catalogue includes an essay by Professor Bruno Corà, Curator and President of the Alberto Burri Foundation in Città di Castello, Italy, who has been a longtime champion of the artist and his fascination with expressing the flow of time in the visual realm. As Corà writes:
‘With his awareness of the instability surrounding our lives and of an equally unlimited impermanence of being, Rea fuses his own thought with Heraclitus’s essential sentiment of panta rei: an instant yet eternal time flows through everything – every gesture, every sensation and every thought.’
Born in Rome in 1962, Carlo Rea lives and works between France and the Marche region of central Italy. He graduated from the Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia in Rome, where he studied violin and viola. Rea describes his creative process as a research on vibration, sound and breath within materials that are extra-pictorial and yet retain an intrinsic plastic value, such as wood, burlap, asphalt, terracotta and ceramic.
Both his experience as a musician and his encounter with the cultural and artistic scene in Rome, in the early 1980s, were very influential on Rea’s early work. During this period, he made his ‘Partiture Visuali’ (visual partitions), in which the language of musical notation is translated into visual form. Soon after this he abandoned his musical studies to pursue his passion for visual arts. This decision paved the way for his first solo show at the Galerie Berthet-Aittouares, Paris, in 1992.
In the late 1990s, Rea became interested in the relationship between music, art and medicine.
He went on to create and manage the first two editions of the Crossover Festival at Civitella del Tronto (2001 and 2002), where the study of medicine is combined with different artistic disciplines.
After this experience, which entailed a temporary creative break, Rea was prompted by an encounter with the Italian artist Enrico Castellani to return to the visual arts. Since then, Rea’s work has taken on a more ethereal aspect: in his later pieces, plaster, gauze and other non-traditional art materials are made into moving forms, as the fundamental underlying theme is the flowing of time expressed through movement in space. The effect that he achieves is one of fluctuating matter, suggesting the constant instability of all things that surround us, encouraging the viewer to reflect on the impermanence of being.
Carlo Rea’s work has been displayed in a number of solo and group exhibitions in Italy and Europe.Courtesy of the artist and Tornabuoni Art