Bas Jan Ader: Tra due mondi is the first retrospective dedicated to Bas Jan Ader in Italy. The title of the exhibition alludes to the condition of being constantly in transit, between the Old and New World, between the subjectivity inherent to the romantic drift and cold impersonality of Conceptual Art, between the extreme rationalism of Mondrian and the vibrant absurdity of slapstick comedy.
Bas Jan Ader is one of the most original figures to have re-drafted the essential features of Conceptual Art, thrusting aside its formal rigour in favour of a more personal and evocative language. The legendary aspects distinguishing Bas Jan Ader life and work and the emblematic value of many of his works have made him a key figure in contemporary art.
Bas Jan Ader. Tra due mondi explores the relationship between man and nature, interpreted by Ader from a Romantic viewpoint; it also focuses on the concept of melancholy, one that finds its roots in the European Renaissance thinking, in Dürer and in humanist Florentine thinking of the 15th century. Simultaneously, it features constant references to his fellow countryman Piet Mondrian while giving shape to an existentialist drive. The exhibition analyses the main Ader’s phases as an artist and features six thematic sections.
Melancholy and Romanticism: Ader’s affinity to some of the postulates of the Romantic tradition is a recurring theme in his career. The section How to disappear completely presents some works in which the artist explored the duality of presence/absence, a recurring motif throughout his oeuvre. The Mondrian’s legacy theme was picked up by Ader in some of his most famous “falls”: Broken fall (geometric), Westkapelle, Holland. Through the falls related to Mondrian, Ader addresses the failure of the modernist project of which the Dutch master was a leading figure. Language and theatre, Bas Jan Ader uses language subjectively to convey his personal anxieties. A good example is his widely-acclaimed Please don’t leave me, a phrase which was written on a wall, then photographed and finally erased. Considered by many to be one of Bas Jan Ader’s most emblematic work, I’m too sad to tell you is as magnetic as it is enigmatic. The film shows the artist in the foreground, crying in front of the camera. The three films screened Falling section evoke the fall of the hero in Greek tragedy and, at the same time, recall the slapstick of Keaton and Chaplin.
Curated by Javier Hontoria.