In Paris last week I stopped by Galerie Templon near the Centre Pompidou to see Francesco Clemente’s charming new paintings. An Italian artist who travels between New York, Rome, New Mexico and India, Clemente was one of the painters involved in the rebirth of figurative painting and the movement known as Neo-Expressionism during the 1980s.
The 36 small paintings in the exhibition, accompanied by a plaster sculpture and 2 frescos, explore love and loss. Their power hinges on Clemente’s fearless paint handling and matte, layered surfaces, rather than complex ideas or imagery. In a recent interview in the Huff Po, he lamented that so much art today is neutral and academic, rooted in ideas rather than experience. For Clemente, art is informed by life–not research, politics, or post-structuralist theory. In terms of style, he prefers to give himself the freedom to explore diverse approaches.
It was my intention from the beginning to not anchor myself to a particular solution, or a particular style. At the same time, that is my strength because it means that everything I do is fresh, and my weakness because I am constantly beginning, which means that I never know what I am doing. Also, the goal of my work is to remind the viewer of the necessity to be fluid, to be in a constant state of transformation…
My paintings are tied to the changes in my life and they’re tied to a sense of synchronicity. I’m a believer in synchronicity. You know, the simplest example of synchronicity is when you think of someone and then you turn the corner and you see that person. I am very much in touch with that kind of resonance and symmetry in life, where things don’t happen on their own, they happen in clusters. They all bounce against each other. I’m a listener… I listen to the harmony of life and I translate that in my paintings.
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