James Cohan Gallery presents Italian-American artist Aldo Tambellini, We Are the Primitives of a New Era, Paintings and Projections 1961-1989, curated by Joseph Ketner and running from September 12th through October 19th. This is the artist's first New York gallery exhibition in nearly four decades. Iconoclastic and experimental artist Aldo Tambellini was among the first artists in the early 1960s to explore new technologies as an art medium. Tambellini combined slide projections, film, performance, and music into sensorial experiences that he aptly called “Electromedia.” Such work informed Andy Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable and Woody and Steina Vasulka’s The Kitchen. With the rediscovery of this material, Tambellini’s work has become the subject of great interest for early new media.
We Are the Primitives of a New Era, Paintings and Projections 1961-1989
This is the artist's first New York gallery exhibition in nearly four decades. Tambellini combined slide projections, film, performance, and music into sensorial experiences that he aptly called “Electromedia.” Such work informed Andy Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable and Woody and Steina Vasulka’s The Kitchen. With the rediscovery of this material, Tambellini’s work has become the subject of great interest for early new media. For this exhibition, Tambellini created a multimedia piece incorporating his seminal cameraless films, “Lumagrams” (projected hand-painted glass slide), selections from the Black Film Series and sound in an immersive environment that is meant to “dislocate the senses of the viewer.” Additionally on view are Tambellini’s paintings and unique photographs, or “Videograms,” most of which have not been seen since the 1960s and have only recently been rediscovered.
In discussing Aldo Tambellini, one should immediately draw attention to the rarity of his body of work, still yet to be known in its entirety. However today, in addition to an official website which provides necessary basic information on his work, significant attempts are being made towards achieving his global re-discovery, from DVD box sets to prominent exhibitions. These are all due to the efforts of two talented Italian film curators and researchers, Pia Bolognesi and Giulio Bursi (2), who have been researching, archiving and promoting Tambellini's rigorous art between the US and Europe.
I always get excited when I think about seeing art that seems a bit foreign or unfamiliar to me. It forces me to think and experience what the artist wanted express. Not coming from any art background, it’s often just a space of curiosity and mind play for me – which is something I can never turn down. I was excited heard about Aldo Tambellini’s exhibition, even by the title alone. I like the idea of anyone playing with or even posing ideas of a new era in time or a new level of consciousness. When you walk in, there’s a sign warning you of the the flashing lights. But a small sign in front of the thick, black curtains can’t prepare you for what you’re going to experience when you walk in.
The Brooklyn Rail
Aldo Tambellini is obsessed with black. This fixation extends back six decades to a time when the artist, as one of new media’s avant-garde pioneers, was exploring the color and its associated meanings in various iterations of swirling spirals, black holes, and spherical matrices. At times these early experiments took the form of camera-less films the artist titled “lumagrams”—hand-scored and -painted glass slides projected directly onto the wall. At others, Tambellini’s paintings, works on paper (both graphic and photographic), and many experimentally produced videos functioned as discrete components of his grander 1960s Electromedia performances, multi-disciplinary theatrical experiences aimed at the “dislocation of the senses.”
Print version (pdf)
The Girl Who Knew Too Much
Aldo Tambillini’s We Are The Primitives of a New Era is nothing short of a sensory revelation. An immersive, disorienting, and transformative installation of projections (a configuration of older works in a new arrangement by Tambellini), it feels like entering The Twilight Zone by way of A Clockwork Orange. Six projections of blackness, spheres, and phrases surround on three walls while one overhead projector swirls phrases from Tambellini’s Manifesto Series onto the floor. A static hum permeates the room while bursts of a space-shuttle launch countdown punctuates the space. Formally succinct, the collection of his accompanying paintings depicting the time/space sphere are ridiculously powerful in their simplicity. There is much to process here, none of which is an easy contemplation: origins and future of the universe, the infinity of time. It’s a simultaneously terrifying and promising proposition. In short, the void here offers the thrilling possibility of accessing what we cannot know.
LaVOCE di New York
Si tratta della prima esposizione di Tambellini in una galleria di New York in quasi quarant’anni, e vuole riassumere la filosofia della ricerca dello spazio che ha ispirato per decadi le opere dell’artista. Infatti è stata proprio la curiosità nei confronti dello spazio e la volontà di captare e catturare l’energia che emana, che ha mosso l’artista a produrre opere assolutamente pionieristiche per i tempi.
Read more in original
We Are the Primitives of a New Era, 1961. Monoprint and Duco on paper.
To those of us who have often wondered how an individual artist can escape the gravitational force of history and embody the future in his work, surrendering to the ever-present origin, Aldo Tambellini, shamanic interpreter between paradigms, answers with the ominous and bracing text of his 1961 “manifesto,” The Cell Grew: “we are the primitives of a new era.”