Italian artist Luigi Ontani has been producing tableaux vivants, literally ‘living pictures’, since the late 1960’s. They are drawn from a combination of Western and Eastern iconographical traditions, with references to mythical and historical figures from past to present. Ontani’s idiosyncratic, satirical, and colorful scenes distinguish themselves from the more restrained work of his contemporaries in Italy and are significant precursors for younger generations of performance artists in Europe and the United States. AmenHammerAmeno, his new site-specific piece for the Hammer will take the form of a procession, with the performers clad in Balinese masks, lead by Ontani himself and accompanied by musicians.
In conjunction with the exhibition When in Rome organized by the Depart Foundation at the Italian Cultural Institute in Los Angeles
Luigi Ontani (b. 1943) is one of the most influential and remarkable Italian artists working today. Ontani’s idiosyncratic work represents a radical counter-position to that adopted by Arte Povera in the years he came to prominence. His photographs, drawings, installations, performances and tableaux vivants relate to an extremely rich western and eastern iconographical tradition. He is often the subject of his own work, wearing the clothing of mythical figures from history, religion or literature, drawing from very diverse sources, both near and distant in time.
He has exhibited his works in some of the most important museums and galleries around the world, from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum to the Centre Pompidou, the Museo Reina Sofía to the Frankfurter Kunstverein. He has also participated in several editions of the Venice, Sydney, Lyon and Manifesta biennials. In the past few years, he was the subject of solo shows at MoMA PS1, S.M.A.K. in Ghent and MAMbo in Bologna. He recently presented a parade/tableau vivant at the Serpentine Gallery in London.
Public programs are made possible by Bronya and Andrew Galef, Good Works Foundation and Laura Donnelley, and an anonymous donor.