Wednesday's Visual Treat - Day 3 / Big Bang Art Peep Show

Midnight Sun II, 1982
The centre of the composition is occupied by three figures surrounded by a multitude of eyes-sailboats.  The first one is blindfolded; the second, in a frontal position, look ahead; the third one has feminine traits, faces backwards, and looks behind.  It is a free re-interpretation of the allegory of Prudence, seen as the ability of the present to learn from the past and act well in order not to spoil the future.  The title of the work relates to a passage of the XI book of The Golden Ass by Apuleius, whose protagonist Lucius tells that he reached the borders of death and saw the sun shine a candid light on midnight.
photo courtesy of Donna Regina Foundation, Naples, Italy


It's day three of the BIG BANG ART/PEEP SHOW and the featured artist is FRANCESCO CLEMENTE.  Sexy, mysterious, elegiac, wondrous, and magical are words as well as the emotions I experience in viewing Clemente's paintings and water-colors.  Not unlike Hindu imagery, figures miraculously display the morphed physical attributes of both sexes, animals, and plants while effortlessly floating across the skies and alternative worlds.  Clemente's imagination and imagery is fecund and original; a visual cornucopia of delights from a poet and true magician!!

I hope you love as much as I do,

Of Clemente, art historian and author Rainer Crone wrote:

Place of birth: Naples, Italy.  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. 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.

"And whereas the concept underlying most surrealist art presupposed a certain knowledge of their pictorial sources, Clemente exploits figurative images for non-narrative purposes. In this respect, he also departs from his more immediate contemporaries. Clemente's paintings do not tell a story, nor do they provide a description of a situation. Clemente's imagery attempts to unsettle the observer's conventional assumption of what reality is supposed to be.
"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."


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