Francesco Clemente, Nostalgia/Utopia

Yesterday I went to see Francesco’s new show of paintings at the Mary Boone Gallery in Chelsea, with my friend Stephan Crasneanscki. Francesco met us there, and gave us a tour of the show, which was of course a little unnerving because he just stands next to you in his Italian Mystical Silence and waits for you to either move on to the next painting or say something absolutely stupid because who the hell knows how to talk about art anyway?

Francesco is a mystic in the classical, adjectival sense of the world. He examines the unseen, the esoteric, and in this show in particular, the imagination – not in the sense of fantasy, which our culture thrives on, as he clarified to us, but as the aspect of our being that can bring the inscrutable, the esoteric, the metaphorical, to life, in our minds. In every show he abandons his past approach, and uses new material to draw out the image – the image is brought forth from the material, and not the other way around, which I find fascinating, as it mirrors the underlying principles of a spiritual search; you don’t go for the finished product, you allow the body, breath and awareness to reveal consciousness, which sees its own image in the mirror of the mind.

Vishoka va jyotishmati (or, rtambhara tatra prajna)

For this particular show, Francesco used only hardware store bought materials: paint for asphalt, fertilizer – saffron for background yellow colors (not bought, most likely, at the hardware store). While his techniques from show to show change, you can still see lingering thoughts from past works, for example, the remainder of Tarot meditations in the painting of Temperance, and the Conference of the Birds in the homage to Trungpa and Ginsberg:


Francesco, his skull, the turning of the wheel, and left over birds

Its a great show. Francesco is an extremely insightful and thoughtful human being, and it comes through in the undercurrents of his work. Check it out, if you are in NY, and have time. Francesco never ceases to amaze me.

This painting was my favorite (for now, at least):

I love the blue, and all the buttons sewn on the dress

PS. A note from my last post, the photo of Guruji and Amma was taken by Anthony Prem Carlisi, in 1979. Thank you, Anthony!