Born in 1954 in Montecchio Emilia, where he continues to live and work, Omar Galliani graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna and teaches painting at the Brera Academy of Fine Arts in Milan.
In 1978 Enrico Crispolti included his work in the Premio Michetti in Francavilla al Mare with the installation Ritratto di dama con unicorno. In 1979 he was invited by Luciano Francalanci to represent Italy at the 1st International Triennial of Drawing at the Kunsthalle, Nuremberg, where he received the Faber Castell Award. In the same year Demetrio Paparoni engaged him to create a site-specific installation, La dea levò la fronte at the ancient Fountain of Arethusa and the Museo Archeologico of Siracusa. He was invited to Le alternative del nuovo by Giovanni M. Accame, held at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome. Also in 1979, Flavio Caroli included his work in Il nuovo contesto at Studio Marconi in Milan, in 1980 in Nuova immagine at the 16th Milan Triennale, in Magico primario at the Palazzo dei Diamanti in Ferrara, and in 1981 in Enciclopedia. Il magico primario in Europa at the Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna in Modena. He also participated in Arte e critica 1980 at the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna in Rome, curated by Giorgio De Marchis and Ida Panicelli and presented by Giovanni M. Accame. In 1981 he was invited by a Scientific Committee coordinated by Nello Ponente to show work in Linee della ricerca artistica in Italia 1960/1980; in 1982 he took part in Generazioni a confronto. Omaggio a Nello Ponente at the Università La Sapienza in Rome, curated by Simonetta Lux, and in Art and Critics at Marshall Field’s of Chicago, curated by Ida Panicelli.
He has participated in three editions of the Venice Biennale: in 1982 in Aperto ’82, curated by Tommaso Trini; in 1984, with his own room in the section Arte allo specchio, curated by Maurizio Calvesi; and in 1986, in Arte e alchimia, curated by Arturo Schwarz. In 1982 he was invited to show work in the Italian Pavilion at the Biennales of Sao Paulo and Paris, both curated by Bruno Mantura. His work was shown in Tokyo for Cento anni d’arte italiana moderna 1880-1980, curated by Giorgio De Marchis, and subsequently in the contemporary art museums of Kyoto, Nagasaki and Hiroshima, as well as at the 7th British International Print Biennale in Bradford, curated by Robert Hopper. Subsequently, he took part in Arte italiana 1960-1982 at the Hayward Gallery, London, curated by a scientific committee composed of Renato Barilli, Flavio Caroli and Roberto Sanesi, and in two editions of the Rome Quadrenniale (1986 and 1996), at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni and the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna. In 1985 he exhibited in contemporary art museums in Frankfurt, Berlin, Hannover and Vienna as part of 1960-1985 Aspekte der Italienischen Kunst, curated by Peter Weiermair.
In 1984 he exhibited the cycle of works Cavaliere d’ellissi at Arnold Herstand in New York. In the same year Veit Loers invited him to Umgang mit der Aura at the Regensburg Städtische Galerie. In 1985 he took part in L’Italie aujourd’hui at Villa Arson in Nice, curated by Achille Bonito Oliva, Maurizio Calvesi, Antonio Del Guercio and Filiberto Menna, and the following year he created and exhibited Mobile d’Italia with Studio Alchimia for the exhibition Alchimia 1977-1987 in Turin, curated by François Burkhardt and Alessandro Mendini. Also in 1986 he was invited to participate in Anniottanta, curated by Renato Barilli, Flavio Caroli and Claudio Spadoni in the Galleria d’Arte Moderna in Bologna. In 1987, in Aosta, he presented Il lato oscuro dell’ombra, curated by Janus at the Tour Fromage.
In 1991 he was commissioned to create of the third stage curtain for the historic Teatro Valli in Reggio Emilia. The resulting work, titled Siderea, was curated by Flaminio Gualdoni with photographic documentation by Luigi Ghirri. In the same year, the Kodama Gallery, Osaka, invited him to take part in Now in Italy. Post transavanguardia.
In 1995 he participated in Tutte le strade portano a Roma at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni, curated by Achille Bonito Oliva, and the following year the Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Bologna, showed seven of his large drawings on the theme of Angeli for an exhibition within the cycle Itinerari, curated by Dede Auregli and Italo Tomassoni.
In 1996, with the acquisition of the work Disegno, he was invited to exhibit at the Chamber of Deputies as part of the 12th Rome Quadrenniale, an exhibition curated by Vittorio Sgarbi, and also at Marian Locks Gallery in Philadelphia, where he presented a series of new works entitled Faces, curated by Anthony Iannacci.
Subsequently, with the sponsorship of the Università La Sapienza in Rome, the Museo di Villa Adriana at Tivoli hosted Per Adriano, curated by Otello Lottini, Claudio Strinati and Italo Tomassoni. In the same year he presented Feminine Countenances at New York University, and in 2000 Ancora nuove stelle at the Museum of the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, curated by Monica Dematté; the same show then transferred to the Musei Civici in Reggio Emilia. He was also invited to take part in the 9th Biennale of Sacred Art at San Gabriele (Teramo), curated by Maurizio Calvesi and Elena Pontiggia. Among later major group shows were Ambienti at the Palazzo delle Stelline in Milan, curated by Pierre Restany; Disegni at the Galleria Civica di Modena, curated by Flaminio Gualdoni, and Sui generis at the PAC in Milan. In Portugal he took part in Turning Point in the museum of the Palacio Foz in Lisbon, curated by Lucrezia De Domizio Durini, and in Glassway at the Museo Archeologico Regionale in Aosta, curated by Maurizio Sciaccaluga, which later moved to the Museum of Modern Art in Budapest.
In 2002 he inaugurated Omar Galliani. La luce della materia at the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Villa Giulia in Rome and Tarquinia, curated by Otello Lottini with a text by Claudio Strinati. In 2003 he was invited to the Prague Biennale, with curators Giancarlo Politi and Elena Kontova Tomas Vlcek, and to the 1st Beijing Biennale with the work Breve storia del tempo, which won him first prize. That same year he exhibited twenty-one drawings entitled Disegnata at the Galerie Ernst Hilger in Vienna. In 2005, at the State Archives of Turin, he presented the installation Grande disegno italiano, an event in which a graphite drawing on wood measuring 5 x 6 metres was juxtaposed with a preparatory study of Leonardo’s Virgin of the Rocks from the Biblioteca Reale. Also in 2005, he exhibited Nuove anatomie at Palazzo Magnani in Reggio Emilia, with Sandro Parmiggiani as curator, and in the same year Nuovi fiori nuovi santi at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Guadalajara, Mexico. He inaugurated Spazio Mazzotta in Milan with La figlia era nuda, with a story by Giorgio Soavi, and Peter Weiermair invited him to exhibit at Bologna contemporanea, held at the Galleria d’Arte Moderna in Bologna.
From 2006 to 2008, the itinerant show, Disegno italiano, curated by Fiorella Minervino, was hosted in China’s major contemporary art museums in the cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Xian, Nanjing, Jinan, Chengdu, Dalian, Hangzhou, Ningbo and Tianjin. The University and the Museum of Modern Art in Caracas presented Disegnarsi, which then travelled to the Hassan Museum of Rabat in April 2007. Grande disegno italiano, previously exhibited in Turin in 2005, was presented in 2006 at the Palazzo della Permanente in Milan as part of the exhibition La bellezza, curated by Ivan Rizzi, and with catalogue texts by Philip Rylands and Italo Tomassoni, and subsequently at the Palazzo della Ragione in Verona in the show titled Il settimo splendore, curated by Giorgio Cortenova.
In 2007 he inaugurated Tra Oriente e Occidente at the Fondazione Querini Stampalia, one of the collateral events of the 52nd Venice Biennale. The exhibition, organised with the support of the Chinese Embassy in Italy in collaboration with the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Government of the People’s Republic of China, involved the presence of the Association of Chinese artists and the hospitality of the museums in Shanghai, Ningbo, Dalian, Xian, Hanghzou, Jinan, Chengdu and Wuhan, with catalogue texts by Flavio Caroli, Fiorella Minervino and Omar Galliani. In 2008, in Hong Kong, the Schoeni Art Gallery presented Omar Galliani. Great Italian Drawing. In the same year, la Galleria Nazionale degli Uffizi in Florence exhibited and purchased for its collections the work Notturno (triptych, pencil on canvas, 251 x 701 cm). In September, at the athletics track in Correggio (Reggio Emilia), the artist created a great work of land art drawing titled Nel segno del Correggio, inspired by Antonio Allegri, which is accessible on Google Earth.
In 2009, the K35 Art Gallery in Moscow presented a solo show of his work in collaboration with Mazzotta Art Selection, and the Michetti Foundation in Francavilla al Mare presented Sguardi, a retrospective curated by Giovanni Gazzaneo, with a catalogue containing poems by Roberto Mussapi and Davide Rondoni. In the same year, Angle Art – Led Attitude & Design in Saint-Paul-de-Vence hosted his solo show Lento ritorno, and subsequently, again in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, he inaugurated the new space Angle Art & Design which also opened within it Space Galliani where his work is permanently collected. Also in 2009, the Shangheye Gallery in Shanghai presented Lontano da Xian, and the Italian Cultural Institute in Vienna hosted Nel segno del Correggio. Villa Bottini and the Archaeological Museum in Palazzo Guinigi in Lucca presented Dalle stanze dei miei disegni, curated by Alessandro Romanini, and in Venice the work Respiro (pencil on canvas, 400 x 400 cm), was shown as part of the show Détournement in the ancient Ospizio di San Lorenzo, a collateral event of the 53rd VeniceBiennale. Venice also hosted Santa Apollonia. Omar Galliani e qualche dente di Andy Warhol in the Museo Diocesano, with catalogue texts by Flaminio Gualdoni, Raffaele Morelli and Gabriele Perretta.
In 2010, the Italian Institute of Culture in Bogotá (Colombia) inaugurated 21 dibujos para una noche en Bogota and the Borges Museum in Buenos Aires hosted the exhibition Nocturno, curated by Alessandro Romanini and Maurizio Vanni, which then transferred to the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Juan and to the one in Rosario (Argentina). Teatro India in Rome presented Il disegno è in scena, and the Museum Lu.C.C.A. hosted the site-specific work, Le pareti di-segno, curated by Maurizio Vanni. In May, the Musée d’Art Moderne Saint’Etienne Métropole held an extensive retrospective of his work titled Dans mon tiroir à dessins, curated by Lóránd Hegyi.
2011 began in China with the exhibition Diario cinese at the Museum of Modern Art in the Italian district of Tianjin and at the Italian Cultural Institute in Beijing, curated by Manuela Lietti. At the Museum of Modern Art in Lagos (Nigeria) Galliani was included in Crosscurrents, Italy-Nigeria. The MOA (Museum of Art) at the National University of Seoul, a new venue designed by the famous architect Rem Koolhaas, invited him to exhibit his most recent large works. The event, titled Seoul’s Soul, was curated by Lóránd Hegyi and by the director of the Korean museum, Hyung Min Chung in collaboration with Lucio Izzo, director of the Italian Cultural Institute. Also in 2011, at the Ofok Gallery (National Gallery of Contemporary Art) in Cairo, Galliani exhibited a series of new works together with the artist Essam Marouf. The exhibition was curated by Marinù Paduano with catalogue texts by Lóránd Hegyi. In Milan, the Museo Poldi Pezzoli hosted the show Bellini, Botticelli, Pollaiuolo. Capolavori s/velati da Omar Galliani, curated by Lóránd Hegyi, Fiorella Minervino and Annalisa Zanni. Also, the Diocesan Museum in Padua exhibited Dal codice degli angeli, curated by Andrea Nante. The project The Other Side of Russia, curated by Mazzotta Art Selection, opened in Milan and was subsequently shown as part of the Italy-Russia year at Palazzo Barbarigo Minotto in Venice during the Biennale, and finally as a special event at the 4th Biennale of Contemporary Art in Moscow. In July 2011, the director of the Vatican Museums Antonio Paolucci purchased the large work on panel Dal codice degli angeli for the Vatican’s contemporary art collections.
In 2012 the Accademia di Belle Arte in Carrara invited him to show D’après Canova. Omar Galliani, opere 1977-1980 at the Palazzo Binelli, curated by Lucilla Meloni. In the same year Nocturno was at the Museum of Modern Art in Montevideo, then at the Pablo Atchugarry Foundation, Punta del Este, and at Palacio de la Moneda Cultural Centre in Santiago, Chile. The show Omar Roma Amor was held at Rome’s Museo Bilotti, curated by Gabriele Simongini. In July, the artist inaugurated the 58th Puccini Festival at Torre del Lago with the installation Grande disegno italiano, and in September, The Male, the Female, the Sacred. Omar Galliani in Dialogue with the Drawing Tradition, curated by Manuela Lietti and Wang Huangsheng, opened in the new CAFA Art Museum in Beijing, designed by Arata Isozaki. At the Italian Cultural Institute in London, he exhibited Disegno Siamese, from the contemporary art collections of the Foreign Ministry in Rome. In November he inaugurated Centro di gravità permanente, a solo show at the MAGA in Gallarate, curated by Flavio Caroli.
In May 2013, Face and Soul opened at the State Historical Museum in Moscow, a single large panel-installation featuring 48 Russian female faces, a project curated by the K35 Art Gallery. In the summer of 2013, Venice hosted The Dream of Eurasia. 987 Testimonials. The Italian Attitude at Palazzo Barbarigo Minotto (a collateral event of the 55th Biennale, organised by the Fondazione Mazzotta and curated by Leonardo Rotatori). Also in Venice, for the twelfth edition of Temporanea, Galliani presented Il sogno della Principessa Lyu Ji in the Chinese Room of the Cafe Florian. The catalogue was curated by Stefano Stipitivich and Andrea Formilli Fendi, and included an unpublished poem by Roberto Mussapi. In December, the K35 Art Gallery in Moscow presented a new series of works: Nuovi mantra per Mosca.
In March 2014 he launched the exhibition “L’opera al nero. Omar Galliani/Black work. Omar Galliani” curated by Danilo Eccher at GAM, Turin. In July in Grizzana Morandi (at Casa Studio Giorgio Morandi, Fienili del Campiaro) he paid a tribute to the artist Giorgio Morandi with the exhibition “Galliani incontra Morandi/Galliani meets Morandi” curated by Eleonora Frattarolo, and in August he took part in the 50th edition of the Festival in Corciano (PG) with the exhibition “Omar Galliani. Peruginesca/Omar Galliani. Of Perugino“. In November he presented a new large work on board, ‘Berenice‘, at the CIAC Museum of Modern Art of Foligno, curated by Italo Tomassoni, in December ‘Nuovi Mantra/New Mantras’ at the Bel-Air Fine Art Gallery of Gstaad, Switzerland. On the occasion of the 2015 Art Fair he put for the first time on display the travel notebooks ‘Croquis de voyage‘ curated by Eleonora Frattarolo at the Academy of Fine Arts of Bologna. In May he was invited to join the group exhibition ‘Imago Mundi – Luciano Benetton Collection: Praestigium Italia‘ at the Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Foundation in Turin, curated by Luca Beatrice, and at the Tianjin International Design Week 2015 (22-27 May) with ‘Omar Galliani: Disegni tra tradizione e innovazione/Omar Galliani. Drawings in-between tradition and innovation‘. In May he launched two exhibitions on Lake Maggiore: on in Cannobio, ‘Omar Galliani. Sui tuoi passi/Omar Galliani. Following your steps‘, the other one of graphic works in Ghiffa, ‘Omar Galliani. Altri segni per nuovi sogni/Omar Galliani. Other signs for new dreams‘ and in June an important display, that illustrated his relationship with the East, at the CAMeC of La Spezia, ‘Omar Galliani… a Oriente/Omar Galliani… in the East‘, curated by Marzia Ratti.