Milan, at Palazzo Reale a large monographic exhibition of Omar Galliani


From July 13 to Sept. 24, Palazzo Reale in Milan presents a monographic exhibition of Omar Galliani, one of Italy's foremost masters of drawing, displaying all his major recent works.

From July 13 to September 24, Palazzo Reale in Milan presents a monographic exhibition of Omar Galliani (Montecchio Emilia, 1954), one of Italy’s leading masters of drawing. The exhibition, entitled Omar Galliani. Diacronica. Il tempo sospeso, is curated by Flavio Caroli and Vera Agosti, is promoted by Comune di Milano-Cultura and produced and organized by Palazzo Reale and Archivio Omar Galliani.

Omar Galliani believes in theeternity of drawing, which survives its creator and endures through time. An “infinite drawing,” which becomes a unique, absolute, immense work that has its own time, dilated like its dimensions, that becomes religion and is “recited” daily like a mantra; a drawing that the artist has been able to reinvent and renew. The title of the exhibition, Diacronica, is borrowed from linguistics and refers to the study of languages in their historical development. The subtitle, Suspended Time, alludes to the endurance of the artist’s making, which in an increasingly digitized and dematerialized world, sustains the beauty of the physicality of the artwork.

The exhibition, developed on the main floor of the Royal Palace, includes more than 100 works, from the late 1970s to the present. It is an excursus through Galliani’s works presented in the Venice, Paris, São Paulo, Prague, Tokyo and Beijing Biennales, as part of museum exhibitions, with the addition of a selection of unpublished works, created especially for the Milan exhibition. In addition to the drawings, cast in the shimmering black of graphite and conveyed in the intimate dimension of paper or in the monumentality of the engraved or scratched poplar plank, the exhibition also features a number of oil-on-canvas works that, despite the radical choice of drawing, the artist painted in the 1980s and, thereafter, every winter, resulting in only one large pictorial work a year, when snow falls on the Po Valley.

Leading the way, within a non-chronological itinerary, which will nevertheless allow the visitor to follow the becoming of the works over time, will be mainly thematic and emotional suggestions, which Flavio Caroli subdivides into “world universes,” capable of nourishing the artist’s thought and imagination: Symbolic Universe, Mythical Universe, Psychological Universe, Erotic Universe, Scientific Universe, Landscape Universe.

“Galliani’s poetics today,” writes Vera Agosti, “takes inspiration from art history, fashion, cinema or simple everyday life, thanks to images encountered by chance, on the road, in airports in the East and West. And again the travels around the world, particularly in Asia, which contaminate his imagery and to which a large room of the Royal Palace is dedicated.”

The guiding image of the exhibition is De rerum natura (2020), a large panel painting that takes its title from the poem by Titus Lucretius Carus. The work depicts a young woman and a hummingbird, a symbol of conjunction between heaven and earth, the physical and spiritual worlds. Among the major works in the exhibition are Omar Roma Amor from 2012 and Princess Lyu Ji in her 15th year, shown in the solo exhibition sponsored by Caffè Florian in Venice in 2014. The latter panel is based on an ancient legend that Galliani learned about in the locality of Xi’an. Roses and scissors, slippers and knives remain of the maiden, a visual synecdoche of femininity and narrative. In China, the artist has exhibited in the country’s major museums in 12 cities, and his connection to the East combined with the influence of those places and cultures on his work are well present in the exhibition.

It continues with a large Mantra from the 1990s, played out between the mystery of black graphite and the sacredness of etched gold leaf. Next comes NGC/7419 from 2020-2021, a particularly heartfelt work that arose from a recurring dream following the loss of his son Maximilian, also an artist. One number kept coming back constantly in the mind: 7419; searching the web it turned out to be a set of stars in the constellation Cepheus, shaped like a pencil. The stars, of carbon and gold, shine in the pencil-on-board work, silent and lyrical witnesses to those mysteries we are not meant to know. Made in the days of lockdown, on the other hand, is the large installation Stolen Kisses / Covid 19, consisting of sixty drawings measuring 50x50 centimeters. These are the kisses that went missing during the period of the forced lockdown and physical distancing. Passionate and sensual kisses, like cinematic ones, images taken from the web made delicate and dreamlike by the softness of charcoal and graphite iridescent according to the refraction of light. And it is precisely to light that the master dedicates his large triptych Riflessi of 2022-2023, a work unpublished in its entirety, which enshrines his relationship with the landscape. Finally, Grande disegno italiano, a monumental work in pencil on poplar panel (500x630 cm), exhibited at the State Archives of Turin in 2005, in dialogue with a small Announcing Angel by Leonardo (present in the preparatory study for the Virgin of the Rocks), exhibited at the Royal Library.

With this exhibition, Omar Galliani highlights his contacts with the past, without, however, shirking the present, with an eye to the future. The exhibition is accompanied by a corsiero editore catalog, edited by Vera Agosti, with previously unpublished texts by Flavio Caroli, Vera Agosti, Italo Tomassoni and Alessandra Tiddia, critical contributions by Eleonora Frattarolo and Giovanni Gazzaneo, poems by Giuseppe Conte, Maurizio Cucchi, Seamus Heaney, Guido Oldani, Gian Ruggero Manzoni, Alda Merini, Roberto Mussapi, Alban Nikolai, Davide Rondoni, Massimo Silvotti and personal notes by Omar Galliani.

As part of the exhibition, two in-depth conferences will be held in Milan: on September 12, at 9 p.m., at the Planetarium, the meeting entitled Omar Galliani. Drawing as Cosmogony. Nocturnes, galaxies and constellations in the poetics of the master; on September 19, at 6 p.m., at the Museum of Natural History, the talk entitled Omar Galliani. The Anatomy of Drawing. Nature in the work of the master. More information on the program and how to participate will be posted at www.palazzorealemilano.it.

Hours: Tuesday through Sunday 12 noon-7:30 p.m., Thursday 12 noon-10:30 p.m., closed Monday; last admission 30 minutes before closing. For information: www.palazzorealemilano.it, www.omargalliani.com. Free admission. Official hashtag: #OmarGallianiMilano.

Milan, at Palazzo Reale a large monographic exhibition of Omar Galliani
Milan, at Palazzo Reale a large monographic exhibition of Omar Galliani


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