Independent 20th Century: La Romana

7 - 10 September 2023 

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For Independent 20th Century, Richard Saltoun Gallery presents: La Romana - Women Painters in Rome from the 1960s & 70s, a group exhibition highlighting 4 of the most important Italian artists of the period, each of whom pioneered a unique path towards abstraction. Focusing on the four most influential women artists working in Rome during the 1960s and 1970s: Bice Lazzari (1900-81), Carla Accardi (1924-2014), Bertina Lopes (1924 - 2012) and Giulia Napoleone (1936 - ). 


The exhibition's concept originates from the recent rediscovery of Accardi's masterpiece, "Omaggio al centenario" (Centenary tribute) (1961), which she created for the 100th anniversary of Italy's unification. This artwork is representative of Accardi's unique and poetic abstract practice, which explores the connections between signs, colours and forms, and reaches from the Postwar period to the Arte Povera and Conceptual Art movements. ‘Centenary tribute’ exemplifies the artist's preference for vibrant hues, bold patterns and powerful contrasts to a captivating optical effect. Already firmly established during her lifetime, Accardi’s reputation continued to flourish after her passing, evident in the inclusion of her paintings in the 2022 Venice Biennale curated by Cecilia Alemani.


Expanding on the theme of abstraction, the exhibition will showcase several significant works by the pioneering Italian abstractionist Bice Lazzari. Often referred to as the Agnes Martin of Italy, Lazzari challenged societal norms, emerging as a visionary force within post-war Italian art in the 1920s. After relocating from Venice to Rome in 1935, she received numerous prestigious decorative arts commissions, but eventually returned to painting in the 1950a, creating abstract compositions that incorporated gestural techniques of informalism. Her transition to acrylic paint in 1964 marked a groundbreaking exploration of hard-edge abstraction. Despite experiencing near-blindness later in life, Lazzari persisted in producing works using only two pencils—black and red; several of these important pieces are included in the group presentation at Independent. Lazzari’s works only have gained recognition outside of Italy in recent years, which saw her inclusion in prestigious touring exhibitions around abstract art at the Whitechapel Gallery, London (2023/24) and the Centre Pompidou, Paris (2021-22). 


In dialogue with Lazzari’s and Accard’s works, a series of emblematic watercolours by Giulia Napoleone will also be on view. Renowned for her nuanced, delicate works on paper, Napoleone refers to these as “landscapes of dots”, creating interventions into the abstract backgrounds using ink, watercolour, or pencil that result in unique interior landscapes. After focusing on monochrome compositions during the 1950s and 1960s, the artist began experimenting with colour in the mid-1970s, predominantly the versatile hues of blue seen in the exhibited works. The artist has received significant institutional acclaim within Italy, including a major retrospective at the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna in Rome (2018). However, they are still to acquire wider international recognition, making the presentation at Independent an ideal platform to enhance their visibility.


The exhibition will also include abstract pieces by Mozambican-Italian artist, Bertina Lopes. Considered the mother of contemporary African painting, Lopes was originally born in Maputo and relocated to Rome in 1963, where she lived and worked for the rest of her life. She was one of the earliest pioneers to bridge the gap between African and European art. Her work has become a symbol of political activism and social criticism, and her story is unique in contemporary art and politics. 


Richard Saltoun Gallery’s group exhibition at Independent 20th Century celebrates the distinct contributions of Lazzari, Accardi, Lopes and Napoleone to the canon of Postwar abstraction, underscoring their enduring influence and artistic legacies.





For a preview of all presented artworks, please email