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Ennio Tamburi Biography

4 Ennio Tamburi by Carmen Corak_edited.jpg

Ennio Tamburi was born in Jesi on 9th September 1936. He lived and worked between Rome and Zurich. He began his activity in Rome in the 1950s, frequently staying in Paris and approaching the Informal  Art because his need to respond to the existential unease characteristic of those years.


Painting becomes for Tamburi the most suitable means to express the evil of living caused by the destruction and lacerations of the post-war period. In those years he received numerous awards such as the “Arezzo Prize”, the “Maggio di Bari”, the “Prato Prize”, the “Incontri d'Arte Prize” of Bologna and the Rome Quadrennial.

Around the 1960s he began to turn his attention to conceptual art, focusing his research on the object and sculpture, mainly using sulphated sheet metal and neon to express, through the silhouettes, the physical and mental condition of modern man. dominated by the sense of incommunicability.

From this period are works such as the “Alberi defo / iati, Couple, Man puzzle and The A and 2”, all made in the 1960s, and the “Cesure”: photographs taken in Rome, whose main subjects are held thanks to "architectural grappettes" as the artist defines them, which serve to support structures that are in danger of being and in any case not particularly stable.

Through them Tamburi seems to affirm the principle of union of "solid" elements that allow him to fight the sense of precariousness and loneliness typical of the "Condition Humaine”.

Many of these works have been exhibited in collective and personal exhibitions such as: Contemporanea, Rome 1972; Galleria il Punto, Turin 1973; Festival Dei Due Mondi, Spoleto 1970; Volterra - Interventions in the City 1973; Venice Biennale, Palazzo dei Diamanti, Ferrara 1975; Due Mondi Gallery, Rome 1976; Gallery of Modern Art, Arezzo 1976; La Tartaruga Gallery, Rome 1976; Kunsthalle, Kôln and Düsseldorf 1977, Gallery 2000 - Bologna 1973.


For a short period he alternated study and artistic research with the activity of graphic designer at well-known magazines, where his talent as a draftsman found a further expressive possibility.


The 1980s marked a definitive turning point for Tamburi, both in terms of his poetics and the techniques used. After a deep reflection on the meaning and value of his research, he moves to Switzerland where he discovers Concrete Art, thus gradually abandoning the line followed up to then to look at reality in a more neutral and objective way.

During a trip to Asia he discovers very precious hand-worked papers from Tibet, Nepal, China, India and Japan, each characterized by a particular texture. This discovery will lead him to undertake numerous trips to Europe, the United States, Africa and Asia. His trip to Japan and Burma will be fundamental, places where he will further study paper production techniques. The paper thus turns out to be the "antidote" to the materials traditionally used in painting, becoming the new medium through which, with watercolors and tempera, Tamburi realizes his works.


In the 80s, 90s and 2000s, the papers welcomed signs and symbols of the artist's imagination: visions, ideas, experiences are translated into an abstract but extraordinarily communicative language. Essential elements are the "dots" that describe, through empirical geometries, what Tamburi has seen or imagined, giving rise to works full of energy and vitality. Using brushes of various sizes from time to time, Tamburi alternates the creation of large and small-sized works.


In recent years Tamburi has exhibited in many Italian and European cities: 

Galleria Salomon, Paris 1980; Galerie Mark, Paris 1982; Fourteenth-century fortress, Montalcino 1987; Temple University Rome and Philadelphia 1990; Gallery of the '500, Siena 1992; The Blaxland Gallery, New South Wales, Sidney 1992; Kunsthaus Richterswil, Zurich 1998; Center for Italian Studies, Zurich 1999; Die Halle, Zurich 2000; Anton Meier Galleries, Geneva 2003; Fondation Sur La Ville Ancienne, église Le Noirmont, Switzerland La Nef, Ancienne 2004; THERE. ART, Rome 2005; Casanatense Library, Rome 2006; Lazertis Galerie, Zurich 2007; Museum of the Convent of San Giovanni, Müstair 2009; Fabriano Space, Milan 2008.


To his activity as a painter he often sided the one of set designer collaborating on the scenography of films such as "Senso" and "Death in Venice" by Luchino Visconti and "Che?" by Roman Polanski, designing posters for the theatrical performances of Giorgio Strehler and Luca Ronconi and finally creating the sets for “Lamento” and “Reflects”, for the Montecarlo ballet in 1994 and for 'L'après-midi d'un faune', for the company Introdans, in Arnhem, the Netherlands in 1997.

In recent years he has begun to create the so-called 'Sculturine', small works on painted paper: "travel sculptures" to use Munari's terminology. Another novelty are the Books, real diaries or illustrated texts in which the artist records thoughts, impressions and sensations: projects, notes and daily notes, as an intimate and secret diary.


After having exhibited since the early 1960s in Italy and abroad in important public and private galleries, in 2012 the National Gallery of Modern Art in Rome dedicated a major retrospective to Tamburi.

In his most recent works, Tamburi achieves unprecedented results of compositional balance. The forms of his abstract painting, in fact, become the definitive means of a deep and touching meditation on fundamental themes: nature, time, existence.

" My direction is towards unfinished, fluid geometric shapes, with the liquid matter of the colors left free to run: I create embankments on the paper, but I also like that the shapes pass anyway, falling apart '' (March 2018).

The last solo show before the artist's death was held at the Garden Room of the Non-Catholic Cemetery in Rome (May-June 2018).

Immediately after his death, from 15 December 2018 to 30 January 2019 the Crac Puglia Center for Contemporary Art Research inaugurates the personal exhibition '' Continuo '', curated by Luca Arnaudo and Roberto Lacarbonara, a project completed by the artist himself, months before his disappearance.

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