Tambellini began his career as a sculptor and a painter. In the early 1960s he helped to develop what is now known as expanded media, bringing together photography, television, film, poetry, slide projection and performance.
He would apply black paint onto glass slides or celluloid film and then burn, scratch or pierce circles and spirals onto the surface. Similar circular forms reappear throughout his work, from his early abstract paintings to his manipulated television images. He saw the recurring circles as conveying a sense of rippling cosmic energy. His fascination with black was another consistent trait. ‘Black is actually the beginning of everything’, he wrote. He linked his use of the colour to the Black Power movement, which he actively supported.
This display attempts to recreate the immersive nature of the multimedia performances Tambellini staged in downtown New York in the 1960s. Many of these took place at the Black Gate Theater, which he co-founded with artist Otto Piene in 1967. The works included here were acquired after Tambellini’s Retracing Black, a large-scale installation accompanied by live performances, was shown at Tate Modern in 2012. The process of conserving and displaying individual works from Retracing Black is the result of ongoing conversations between curators, conservators, photographers and the Aldo Tambellini Art Foundation