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Video Presentation - Transcendental Realism, The Art of Adi Da Samraj at 2007 BIennale di Venezia - 52nd Venice Biennale International Art Exhibition - Collateral Exhibition


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Transcendental Realism: The Art of Adi Da Samraj’s Historic Opening at the Cenacolo di Ognissanti

Direct from its widely acclaimed official participation in the 2007 Venice Biennale, curated by Achille Bonito Oliva, Transcendental Realism: The Art of Adi Da Samraj will be on display in Florence, Italy from 23 February to 22 June in the historic Cenacolo di Ognissanti. This is the first modern art exhibition to take place in the Cenacolo di Ognissanti.

Adi Da Samraj has been an accomplished artist and scholar for over thirty years. For much of the last decade the New York-born, Fiji-based spiritual master has explored new forms of digital technology to produce complex and sophisticated images embodying his religious and philosophical teachings, his narrative and theatrical leanings, and his distinctly Modernist aesthetic sensibility. Major examples of his most recent work comprise Transcendental Realism - an immersive display of monumental, boldly colored, powerfully structured images.

In inviting Adi Da Samraj to exhibit at the Cinacolo, Cristina Acidini, Superintendent for the Association of Museums of the City of Florence, notes that “The long white walls of the Cenacolo form a perfect backdrop to these vibrant images: if anything, a dialectic tension is created with the Last Supper of Ghirlandaio on the end wall in its solemnity and placid expression of sacred Renaissance art. But the secret and subtle alliance between these two different artistic expressions, based on the same principles of harmony and purity, turns this tension into an attraction to be enjoyed as a successful experiment.”

Transcendental Realism. The Art of Adi Da Samraj comprises four large, visually overwhelming works realized by Adi Da Samraj in the last two years and employing a complex variety of digital means. The centerpiece of the exhibition is the monumental Alberti's Window I (137 cm x 1,419 cm). The title is a reference to Leon Battista Alberti, the Florentine architect and philosopher whose ideas on perspective and ‘point of view’ are a counterpoint to Adi Da Samraj's 'beyond point of view' transcendental art. Alberti's Window I is one of the artist’s most ambitious works in which Adi Da ‘reverses’ Alberti's paradigm of ‘painting as window’. Rather than creating an illusion of perspective - an illusion that, ultimately, points back to the viewer (thereby reinforcing self-identity) - Alberti's Window I invites the viewer to relinquish self-identity by entering into a dazzlingly beautiful world, a world that is free of perspective.

While Adi Da's dramatic distortion and structured reorganization of perceived reality builds on the methods and strategies that were common practice in the avant garde of a half a century to a century ago, he has developed his own powerful artistic voice. The artistic tradition he maintains is a tradition of the new. Renowned scholar and critic, Achille Bonito Oliva, notes “Adi Da’s image-work constitutes an epiphany in the sense that it presents itself neither in objective nor in subjective terms. It doesn’t belong either to the universe of the artistic search of the 20th century, the whole canon of optical-perceptual experimentation that was developed in the 1950s and 60s, nor on the other hand to an expressionist creation that tends to represent identity and subjectivity”.

It is auspicious that Adi Da's work be exhibited in the Cenacolo di Ognissanti, in view of Domenico Ghirlandaio's famous fresco of the Last Supper (circa 1480). Adi Da states: "The art I make and do has a profound purpose. Therefore, the art I make and do can only be fully rightly viewed within a context that supports that purpose…A traditional temple or church is culturally and artistically purposed to open up into something beyond - a life-transforming space that is profoundly protective, and, yet demanding."

The exhibition runs from 23 February to 22 June 2008 at the Cenacolo di Ognissanti,
via Borgo Ognissanti 42 (piazza d'Ognissanti), Florence, Italy. Opening hours are 9:00 to 17:00 daily except Wednesdays. Admission is free.

The exhibition is made possible through the patronage of the Soprintendenza Speciale per il Polo Museale Fiorentino, is organized by Da Plastique in collaboration the Comitato Promotore Inverno a Firenze, and is sponsored by Banco Toscana (Gruppo MPS), Grand Hotel Florence (Luxury Collection), and the Ministero per i Beni e Le Attivita Culturali.

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