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ARTIST NAME: Francesco Clemente

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"Francesco Clemente: Italian painter. Self-taught, he studied architecture. In 1974 he met Beuys. Since 1982 he has divided his time between Italy, New York and Madras. He was involved with the Italian Transavanguardia. A period of experiment resulted in a hallucinatory style which expressed an infernal imaginary world in livid tones, leaden greys, violet-toned nocturnes, olive or petrol green. His painting, which ranges from tragic scenes to ironic self-portraits, begins with a pre-existing image, transforming its meaning by shifts as subtle as they are unpredictable. His bodies display a Primitivism which suggests the influence of Gauguin."

"Clemente invents what he calls "unknown ideograms, ideograms in costumes," in which "logic and chance as one force" become effective. It is to that intense experience, hidden in silence, devoid of words, where feeling and thought can be reconciled, that his pictures lead us.

"Clemente's questions probe truth, reality and being. They are a response to findings in modern science, findings that have been investigated earlier in this century by philosophers such as Heideger and Wittgenstein, and that, even earlier still, have been posed by the members of the Romantic movement at the turn of the nineteenth century:

If the spectator could enter into these images in his approaching them on the fiery chariot of his contemplative thought, if he could enter into Noah's rainbow or into his bosom, or could make a friend and companion of one of the images of wonder, which always entreats him to leave mortal things (as be must know), then he would arise from his grave then he would meet the Lord in the air and then he would be happy
- William Blake: Description of a Vision of the Last Judgement
"Like the surrealists, to whose work Clemente's bears a superficial similarity, he makes images that startle the viewer. Unlike the surrealists, who directed their attention to creating a new visual vocabulary in order to elucidate traditional meanings, Clemente's images are pure inventions full of new meanings.

"It is in this sense that Clemente has something original to contribute: figure-words, as Novalis would call it, pictorial discoveries from a pre-conscious, pre-linguistic world, releasing associations in the observer through the power of their expressiveness. This pictorial means is one we are most familiar with through fairy tales, myths and dreams - meanings of possible, conceivable worlds. His pictures question a reality that only exists by approximation, and whose existence we intimate through the power of our own desires."

- From Rainer Crone, "Clemente"


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