Carlo Rea

Art on the edge of music

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Carlo Rea in his studio, in Italy

A Virtual Exhibition until 19 September 2020

An exclusive virtual exhibition with more than 20 new works by Carlo Rea, for the first time online.




The fundamental theme, which is always present in my work, is the flow of time, understood essentially as movement in space.

 Carlo Rea

Carlo Rea | Forms and Harmonies

Rea’s delicate relief paintings are motionless, yet they seem in constant flux, morphing from painting into sculpture, from canvas into clay. Despite often being monochrome, his petal-like forms create a harmony of tones and shadows.

Trained as a classical violinist and violist, the artist embraces the notion of musical time and chromatic rhythms in his work. Some of his simplest works create a luminous surface vibration by stretching gauze veils over stucco to give a moiré effect. Their undulating surfaces seem to move as the viewer changes position. 

With his awareness of the instability surrounding of our lives and of an equally unlimited impermanence of being, Rea celebrates an instant yet eternal time that flows through everything – every gesture, every sensation and every thought.

During his long music career, Carlo Rea performed with important orchestras around Italy and Europe. His choice to ultimately dedicate himself to the visual arts means that many of the tools he uses are the same ones he once used to give identity and meaning to music: harmony, timbre, counterpoint and composition.

The subtle power of Rea’s oeuvre can be found in that invisible and yet tangible energy that rests on the surfaces of his works, which are united by a common thread: a merging of sound, vibration, painting and sculpture into an ideal artistic synthesis.

Bruno Corà

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Carlo Rea review in the Financial Time Weekend Critic’s choice by Jackie Wullschläger

“Another artist whose musical training – as a classical violinist – infuses an unusual, delicate body of work. Rea, born 1962, continues the Italian postwar tradition of working in poor materials to create luminous surface vibrations by stretching gauze veils over stucco, shapes petal-like forms into rhythmic harmonies in plaster and wood, and make sonic installations exploring correspondences between visual and musical notation.”

Jackie Wullschläger


Carlo Rea, Forms and Harmonies, Tornabuoni Art London, 2018


Born in Rome in 1962, Carlo Rea lives and works between France and the Marche region of central Italy. He graduated from the Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia in Rome, where he studied violin and viola. Rea describes his creative process as a research on vibration, sound and breath within materials that are extra-pictorial and yet retain an intrinsic plastic value, such as wood, burlap, asphalt, terracotta and ceramic.

Both his experience as a musician and his encounter with the cultural and artistic scene in Rome, in the early 1980s, were very influential on Rea’s early work. During this period, he made his Partiture Visuali (visual partitions), in which the language of musical notation is translated into visual form. Soon after this he abandoned his musical studies to pursue his passion for visual arts. This decision paved the way for his first solo show at the Galerie Berthet-Aittouares, Paris, in 1992.

In the late 1990s, Rea became interested in the relationship between music, art and medicine.

He went on to create and manage the first two editions of the Crossover Festival at Civitella del Tronto (2001 and 2002), where the study of medicine is combined with different artistic disciplines.

After this experience, which entailed a temporary creative break, Rea was prompted by an encounter with the Italian artist Enrico Castellani to return to the visual arts. Since then, Rea’s work has taken on a more ethereal aspect: in his later pieces, plaster, gauze and other non-traditional art materials are made into moving forms, as the fundamental underlying theme is the flowing of time expressed through movement in space. The effect that he achieves is one of fluctuating matter, suggesting the constant instability of all things that surround us, encouraging the viewer to reflect on the impermanence of being.

Carlo Rea’s work has been displayed in a number of solo and group exhibitions in Italy and Europe.


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