The illustrator and painter Valerio Adami is widely regarded as an eminent representative of Italian Pop art. His exhibition in the Secession’s Grafisches Kabinett is the artist’s first solo show in Austria and showcases a series of paintings from his less well-known early oeuvre. Created before 1964, these works stand out for the particularly dynamic interplay between expressive abstraction and stylized figuration.
Explosive discharges of energy are the dominant motif in the selected starkly simplified depictions. Adami’s pictorial spaces teem with bodies wrestling with each other and objects being blown to a thousand pieces, with energy fields, cosmic rays, fire, and dense clouds of smoke. Interspersed between them like quotations lifted from a cartoon are speech bubbles and onomatopoetic words signaling the pictures’ pop and bang. The characteristic features of Adami’s work from this time are the evolution of many of his forms out of the graphical gesture and the painterly structure he lends to different surfaces, probing the ostensible contradiction between individual emotional expression and a deadpan delivery devoid of subjective inflections with almost effortless ease.