new-york

Carol Rama

Esso Gallery

This show was the first solo American exhibition by Carol Rama, a cult figure in her native Italy since 1945, when her premiere exhibition at age twenty-seven was immediately shut down by police on the grounds of obscenity. While the work from that show disappeared, a number of drawings on view here dated from the ’30s and early to mid ’40s. The chaotic post-Mussolini period was clearly no friendlier than that of dictatorial order to so monstrous a spirit as Rama’s, who speaks in an interview of her profound desire to “incazzare tutti” (piss everyone off). These early works give a pretty good idea of the kind of thing that might well have done the trick. In the watercolor Dorina, 1940, a black and green snake emerges from the vagina of a wild-eyed woman with leaves entwined in her hair; she looks like a mad and degraded parody of a figure from Botticelli’s Primavera. Just as wicked as the

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