Francesco Clemente: again, again and again
Francesco Clemente: again, again and again (2022) inaugurated LGDR’s Paris program with works that spotlighted Clemente’s mystical approach to the physical world and masterful engagement with painterly expression. The exhibition debuted the Five Elements (2021) series of watercolors, which explore the Tantric elements of earth, water, fire, air, and space-sound, alongside recently completed Winter Flowers paintings (2022) that meditate on the exquisite ephemeral nature of flowers. With these distinct bodies of work, Clemente reflects on the dichotomy between permanence and impermanence in art and nature. The artist also created a temporary wall drawing for the exhibition, further manifesting his interest in material transience.
A lifelong nomad, Clemente has traveled through and settled in many countries since his first trip to India in the early 1970s, where he studied Hindu spiritual texts while learning from local craftspeople. Cross-cultural influences—and encounters with ancient cosmological symbols and precepts—permeate the works on display in Paris. The watercolors evoke eternal change and biological cycles by referencing the five fundamentals of all matter in the venerable Tantra traditions of India and Tibet. Their luminous veils of color were complemented by the surrounding wall drawing in red paint and chalk that depicted figures and objects, in Clemente’s words, “set free from the dichotomies of mechanical life.”
New Winter Flowers paintings juxtapose the vivid watercolors. Clemente based the works on flower arrangements his wife, Alba Primiceri, culled from public parks and flowerbeds one winter and placed in his New York studio. The artist became preoccupied with the persistence of such flora weathering the cold. Clemente infused each canvas with a sense of introspection and deliberation. They overflow with larger-than-life petals in delicate colors and textures from plant and vegetable pigments. While recalling the vanitas tradition of painting, in which flowers symbolize corporeal transience, Clemente’s Winter Flowers steadfastly affirm the enduring power of fleeting beauty and art’s unique potential to capture it.