“Antibodies” takes a deep dive into each of Rama’s series that followed. The first, in the 1950s, features bodies fragmented through geometric abstraction, which was also a preoccupation for many of Rama’s Turinese peers—members of the Movimento Arte Concreta (MAC), which she briefly joined. But her canvases stood out from the rest. She applied paint thickly so that it coagulated and blistered in areas of the canvas, resembling bodily fluids and other organic matter.
In the ’60s, her forms became more representational, evolving into shapes that looked like vaginas, lesions, and menstrual ooze. Sometimes, they were decorated with found objects like bits of fur, teeth, and doll eyeballs. But rather than carnage, these “bricolage” paintings, as her friend, the poet Edoardo Sanguineti, dubbed them, resemble primordial goo. They feel vital and very much alive.
Even her paintings from the ’70s, in which she applied disassembled rubber bicycle tires (an allusion to her father’s factory), are sensuous and corporeal. Their curves, puckers, and long strands resemble body contours, nipples, and networks of arteries.
In the 1980s, ’90s, and 2000s, she returned to figuration, encouraged by a well-received show of her early watercolors, which was curated by Vergine. It set into motion a renewed interest in Rama’s work, which had previously been shown only rarely outside of Italy.