Adam Tramantano’s unique voice is at once abstract and representational. Looking closely at the work, you see the energy of the shapes that make up representation. From the other side of the gallery, the picture is a man listening to an onion with a stethoscope. Such depictions dramatize Tramantano’s contention that “The apparent neatness of life is an illusion; life needs to be shown for how messy it truly is.”
For Adam Tramantano, art is a kind of inquiry. But rather than try to find answers, Tramantano attempts to unearth mysteries. For instance, in “selfie-indulgence,” Tramantano contended that, “The selfie is contradictory. It is both shallow and self-reflective; self-absorbed, yet innocent; trite, yet profound; superficial, yet real. How could this be?”
His current question is about clarity, detail, completion, and obscurity. How clear and detailed does an image need to be? When can incomplete or impressionistic images be somehow real and complete?
Adam Tramantano was born in 1976 and grew up in the Morris Park neighborhood of the Bronx. He formed his foundation for art while preparing for the admissions portfolio for art high school. He attended Art & Design High School briefly.
His early influences include his grandmother, and a junior high school art teacher.
Tramantano wrote about his art teacher in Junior High School here: http://tramantano.com/blog/2015/12/29/the-presence-of-art
A series of later influences served to further augment Tramantano's artistic vocabulary. While he left Art and Design High School, he was still a part of the social milieu there. Among other teenage artists, he learned that an artist must have a unique sensibility, and not only technical ability. "We were all fascinated with Salvador Dalí. We were caught up in his vision, in his persona." Simultaneously, Tramantano had a burgeoning interest in eastern philosophy, including Zen and Taoism. "I was a junior in high school, in the Bronx. In the evenings, I would get on the train and go to Manhattan to take tai chi classes." This interest helped him develop his strong poetic sensibilities. "In college, it was all about writing for me. I still did visual art, but it was drawing in the margins of my notes. Poetry was the high art for me at that time."
Teaching Career and Education
Tramantano became a high school English teacher at the age of 24. He chose English because it is the most flexible of high school subjects, allowing him to use literary texts as invitations to moderate improvisational discussions. He chose high school because adolescence is the age where the complex questions of art, philosophy, and literature first became compelling for Tramantano himself.
He attended CUNY Hunter College, where he met his wife, and graduated in the Winter of 2000. He went on to earn an MA from Teachers College, Columbia University, in May of 2001.
He taught for six years at A. Philip Randolph High School in Harlem. "When I chose to become a teacher, I knew it wasn't just a job, but I didn't fully know that reality just yet. At A. Philip Randolph, I learned that teaching is an improvisational art that demands your full presence."
Tramantano currently teaches at Bronx Science, where he has been since 2007.
Tramantano worked on his EdD in The Teaching of English (conferred February, '18) from Teachers College, Columbia University, from 2011 to 2017.
His dissertation, Improvising Roles: Writing Instruction and Provocative Disruption, explores the mysteries of teaching the creative process.
In his current work, Tramantano is looking to paint images that offer interesting technical challenges. The range of light and shadow on the face or the position of figures and other background elements, for example. The experiment for the moment is more about what paint can do. It is about when paint can be seen as being paint and when it can look like the images it is representing. It is also about where details matter and where they don't, where accuracy matters and where artistic sensibility matters.
Previously, he was interested in the question of how to portray the human face. For this experiment, Tramantano completed paintings of every U.S. president using public domain photos as references. Several paintings were on display at a solo show in Warner Gallery, in Tarrytown, NY. The six most recent presidents were on display in February at Teachers College, Columbia University, Kasser Space.
All 45 paintings are here: http://tramantano.com/blog/2017/9/1/the-gallery-of-presidents
In Selfie-Indulgence, Tramantano explored the inherent contradictions of taking selfies in a day and age when, as he puts it, "We may be simultaneously looking at ourselves more and also less self-aware."
Selfie-Indulgence serves as an exultation of the self, resonating with Whitman's evocation that, "every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you." But it is simultaneously a criticism of how detached technology allows us to be, and of the illusions of truth that come with instant portraits.
Tramantano searches for such contradictions as being nature's ready mades.
Tramantano is an artist who primarily paints.
Working in acrylics, he eschews the contention that oil paints are better than acrylics: "No medium is inherently better than any other. Anyone can claim anything is better, but to do so, misses the point. I could, for instance argue that acrylics are more in-tune with today because we are living in a plastic world and that's what acrylics are: plastic. But that's ridiculous."
"Representational painters cannot reject conceptual art because representational painting deals in concepts. If anything, we should be thankful to the conceptual art revolution for freeing us from the task of merely making pretty pictures."
"I don't think that intellectual and intuitive pursuits are different. The intellect is a kind of intuition and intuition a kind of intelligence."
"I take my conceptual cue from Duchamp. I, too, look for ready-mades in the world. But I look for them conceptually, not tangibly. I look for the ready-made contradictions that nature presents to us."