S. Patkin reviews the exhibition Francesco Clemente: Portraits of the 80s at Thomas Ammann Fine Art Gallery, Zurich, on view through September 27, 2013.
Patkin writes: "Many have read Clemente’s work during this period as reacting against the conceptual and minimal art of the 1970s, and credit Clemente as being among one of the most recognized artists involved with revitalizing figurative painting, as well as reintroducing emotional heft to painting and drawing, particularly through his signature focus on the human form and special interest in identity and sexuality. Clemente himself has resisted specific labels, however, and his work seems to speak less to a conceptual rupture or defined statement, than to a potent fusion of a variety of influences... Combining a unique enthusiasm for non-Western symbols and mythology, while steeping himself in studies of Romanticism and the Italian Renaissance, Clemente’s world is one of permeable boundaries – as vivid as it is dreamlike."
McKenzie writes that this "is a unique body of work, for its esoteric and enigmatic use of symbol and visual narrative. They allude to everything from Thomas Carlyle’s Victorian culture... As sage or mediator Clemente here asserts opposites such as the sublime and the ridiculous as a plea to break down artistic and religious hierarchies. In contrast to the muted palette of the 14 large paintings in the Blain Southern exhibition, the colours in the mandala paintings are both richer and deeper, and have the quality of Oriental carpets, or magical gardens."
Edited by artist Brett Baker, Painters' Table highlights writing from the painting blogosphere as it is published and serves as a platform for exploring blogs that focus primarily on the subject of painting.