New Works Francesco Clemente
20. May - 22. August 2004
The artist Francesco Clemente is one of the most celebrated artists of his generation. He started his career in Italy as a conceptual artist and had his first one-man show in Rome in 1971. At the end of the 1970s he began painting and quickly became recognised internationally. His work was included in some of the most important group exhibitions of that time such as: the Venice Biennale in 1980, Documenta 7 (Kassel) and Zeitgeist (Berlin), both in 1982. His work was then associated with that of fellow painters Enzo Cucchi, Sandro Chia, Nicola de Maria and Mimmo Paladino, among others, under the term Transavanguardia. This movement, alongside German Neoexpressionism, was central to a new interest in painting and European art in the 1980s.
Clemente visited India for the first time in 1973 and has spent long spells there ever since. He mixes Eastern and Western themes and symbolism in his work and his remarkable imagery combines the everyday with the exotic in a closely knit discourse. Consequently his images, at first familiar and direct, are ultimately mysterious. Clemente has used the self-portrait very often as a way to explore questions of identity, ranging from the sexual to the spiritual. However, his art is always open, suggesting rather than telling.
This exhibition that will be presented in the Reykjavík Art Museum is entitled New Works, and presents over sixty works including paintings, pastels and watercolours, all of which have been made in the last three years. This follows his major retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum in New York and Bilbao, (1999). In these recent works, we find fewer images of the body and the Vanitas has become the central subject. The format tends to be square and the palette is subtle and reduced, giving the images a sense of monumentality and peace. However, eroticism and violence do appear, creating powerful and haunting images.
Francesco Clemente lives and works in New York, but spends some time each year in Madras, India and in Rome, Italy. The exhibition New works is a joint project of the Reykjavík Art Museum and the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin. Most of the works in the exhibition come from the artist, but also from the Galerie Bruno Bischofberger, Zurich in Switzerland and the Gagosian Gallery in New York and various art collectors, who have generously lent works for the exhibition.
Wednesday 19. May at 17
Francesco Clemente talks about his career and works from the exhibition.
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