Regarded in Italy as one of the leaders in the reinstatement of figurative painting, Francesco Clemente (Naples, 1952) dropped out of architecture studies to focus on painting and drawing. As a student in Rome, he met Cy Twombly and Alighiero Boetti who were key influences on his work. Later, in the 1970s, he went on a series of trips, which were the source of much of his inspiration, both artistic and spiritual. In the early 1980s, he moved to New York.
He is currently exhibited at the Jablonka Maruani Mercier Gallery, which has relocated from Rue de la Régence to 430 Avenue Louise. The Louise axis seems to be the ultimate place to be for contemporary art galleries. And tram No. 93 too!
We first discover a series of six portraits of six generations of top models commissioned by Harper’s Bazaar and which was the subject of a special feature in the magazine’s April issue. Shown for the first time in a gallery, these portraits present the silhouette of a richly dressed woman on a brightly coloured background. Far from New York, we don’t care about whether we can recognise Christy Turlington, Linda Evangelista, Lauren Hutton or other top models. Their posture and their clothing, however, fit perfectly with the tradition of bourgeois portraiture. In 100 years from now, when people look at them, they will be interested in their colourful dresses, their hairdos, their poses. With their big sad eyes, the seriousness of their slightly rigid faces, the rich, vivid palette, and their almost expressionistic style, all the portraits are mesmerizing. They convey a strong presence, a woman with a strong stance and spine, much more than the portrait of an era.
Don’t miss the 12 watercolours for 12 Kamasutra positions, as erotic as Rodin’s watercolours and as violent and powerful as the red ink drawings of round bodies on paper created by Louise Bourgeois. For Francesco Clemente, the body is like a landscape. Its contours touch the edges of the paper, invading the whole space. The breasts are huge hills, there are no faces, and sometimes a lotus flower grows on the lower abdomen. The body, especially female, remains the artist’s core subject. He takes it, bends and twists it, and puts it through a whole series of dreamlike adventures.
Jablonka Maruani Mercier Gallery
430 avenue Louise
Until 20 October
Mondays – Saturdays, from 11:00h to 18:00h