The particular and powerful works of Carol Rama (Turin 1918 – 2015) have aesthetic characteristics and a taste much closer to Austrian and German expressionism than to our Mediterranean tradition. Severely proven by the tragic and premature death of her father (probably suicidal) and her mother’s mental problems, Rama conceived her artistic work as a self-therapy. “Work, painting, for me, has always been one thing that allowed me to feel less unhappy, less poor, less unpleasant, and even less ignorant … I’m painting to heal myself. When I paint, I do not have any professional courtesy, no kindness, I have no rules. I never followed regular painting courses, nor did I have any artistic academic education. My technical insecurity, my lack of method, has become an aspect of my job that helped me a lot, because, beyond the technique, the idea is always very clear. “If this world were perfect and happy, art would probably not exist. In many cases, for many artists, the artistic gesture was above all an attempt to investigate and transfigure discomfort, drama, despair. Rama experiences her strong sexuality as game and blame, happiness and fear, sign and scar at the same time. A carnality made of bodies, faces, hands, presences that are at the same time real and impossible, concrete and almost surreal. Bodies or segments of bodies deprived of all harmony. Bodies, genitals and limbs investigated as obvious and obscene, vital and disturbing presences. Curious and enigmatic eyes wrapped in informal vapours spying on us as sentinels of an acute and multiplied consciousness. Small and mysterious writings and signs investigating a rationality that fades into the great riddles of existence. Female figures and self-portraits, destabilized by ambiguous, mysterious presences, moving between the organic and the vegetable dimension. Like her peculiar long braid tied to her forehead, a river of forms follows the vast and odd cycle of metamorphoses, instincts and deeper pulsations. Other eyes, this time drawn, conversing with ironic and mocking red tongues, on sheets of other designs, other traces, and other prints. For Carol Rama, a prevalent, violent, ironic and sick sexuality disrupts and destroys the harmony of the body: a normal foot confuses with a woody prosthesis, a branch of leaves turns into a crown of thorns.
Then, at other times, in other works, a clear estrangement from the human figure, in favour of an eminently formal and aesthetic game: the game of air chambers. The black of the rubber, variously declined as a hanging tube, a presence, an icon, an elegant black surface. In other informal pieces, she still takes a break from the vast organic and erotic fire in favour of a more peaceful, harmonious aesthetic search. Amid these two main themes, Rama’s journey explored two seemingly opposing worlds: the expressionist, organic, richly corporeal universe partially derived from Egon Schiele and the formal, aesthetic and more lyrical universe, partly inspired by Alberto Burri. On one hand, the world of corporeality, of sexuality, made of tears, fragments, tragic divisions and visions. On the other hand, an orderly, abstract and united universe, where the harmony of forms recomposes every laceration. Thus, all her work, like the restless pendulum depicted by Edgar Allan Poe, rocks incessantly between the two irreconcilable poles of our existence: laceration and unity, chaos and harmony, fragment and totality, the fire and the crystal.