One of the delights of living in Monaco is that we do not have to go very far to see fabulous art. Picasso, Matisse, and Cocteau among others blazed a trail along our coastline influencing other great artists in their wake. This legacy leaves us with inspiring museums like the Maeght Centre in Saint Paul de Vence and, of course, of more recent vintage is the Cocteau Museum in Menton.
If you do not already know of the works of the Italian painter Valerio Adami, now is your opportunity to be captivated, moved and perhaps occasionally shocked on a visit to the Cocteau Museum where he is on display. In fact, it is just about impossible to stand in front of one of his paintings and not experience strong emotions.
It is no surprise that Adami was first thought of as an Expressionist painter – his works pique the emotions; there are surrealistic distortions; and the bright colours and contrasting dark spaces and black lines create playfulness together with a mood of seriousness. One could almost say one experiences pleasure and pain while viewing his art.
Rather than being contained within the Expressionist niche, Adami moved into the realm of Pop Art in the 1960s with a style reminiscent of Cloissonism . His is a “comic book” style interspersed with large blank areas of flat colour bordered by thick black lines. The imagery within the painting is often flashy, colourful and provocative, for example a grotesque distortion of a person, sometimes missing body parts.
Adami’s art has also covered politics, modern European history, literature, philosophy (Freud and Nietzsche) and mythology.
He is also associated with the New Figuration movement working with male and female figures but also integrating abstraction in the art-work, by putting geometrical spaces, lines, arrows and letters in the compositions and so presenting a “new vision” toward art.
A biography of Valerio Adami would include his birth in Bologna in 1935 and his education at the Academy Brera in Milan between 1952 and 1954. In fact, he first exhibited in Milan in 1957 with works inspired by Matta’s surrealism. He lives and works between Paris, Monaco and Meina (Italy). In 1962 he married Camilla an artist and settled at Lake Maggiore but travelled frequently to New York and London where he created numerous works on urban topics. He has had several exhibitions including in the Pompidou Centre in Paris and at the Boca Raton Museum of Art and has also been exhibited in Spain and Argentina.
The opportunity to see Valerio Adami’s works at the Cocteau Museum in Menton is one not to be missed. His paintings are presented under four themes: myths and metamorphoses, portraits, travel experiences and intimacy. The themes might even be described as Coctalien and thus the Cocteau Museum is the perfect place to see them. On display until November 12th.