On 6 November 2014 Mary Boone Gallery will open at its Chelsea location Two Tents, an exhibition of new work by FRANCESCO CLEMENTE.
A tent fulfills a fundamental human need for shelter, yet nomadic peoples throughout history have fashioned them not only for physical protection, but as a psychic refuge.
Francesco Clemente has spent his forty-year career as a nomad, proceeding from his native Italy and alighting for extended periods in New York, Brazil, and India. The quest manifest in his work is for an understanding of the self that traverses geography and civilizations.
Here Clemente presents Angels’ Tent and Devil’s Tent, a pair of voluminous Mughal-style canvas tents – each ten feet high and twenty feet wide – that square off with one another in the main Gallery space. Created in cooperation with craftspersons in Jodhpur, India, the tent exteriors are richly painted, decorated, and embroidered with repeating wave or cloud-like formations that give the effect of opulent camouflage.
Clemente has painted every surface of the interior of each tent with pertinent imagery. The Angels’ Tent features angels reclining on plinths amid symbols of weightlessness – rainbows, umbrellas, leaves, netting – all in the intense pastel colors of Holi pigments.
Darker hues define the Devil’s Tent, where earth-bound subjects dominate: skeleton, suited men in monocle and top hat, bees and honeycomb, a firing brick kiln. Clemente brilliantly evokes the potent opposing forces that define human nature and beliefs.
A group of twenty-five works on handmade paper created in Delhi in 2013-2014 combine Clemente’s distinctive execution of watercolor with Indian miniature painting. The figural subjects portray the breadth of sensual, emotional and spiritual experience.
Intricate gold patterns added by traditional artisans give the backgrounds the shimmering look of Indian silk brocades.
Also on view in New York concurrent with the exhibition is Francesco Clemente: Inspired by India at the Rubin Museum of Art. This show affords a deeper understanding of Clemente’s long engagement with the culture and artistic practices of India.
The Mary Boone Gallery exhibition, at 541 West 24 Street, is on view through 20 December 2014.
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