Bestiary 2020 - Francesco Clemente

Francesco Clemente (artist)

Exhibition : Thursday 03 September → Saturday 17 October

Monday 11:00 - 18:00
Tuesday 11:00 - 18:00
Wednesday 11:00 - 18:00
Thursday 11:00 - 18:00
Friday 11:00 - 18:00
Saturday 11:00 - 18:00
Sunday Closed
Avenue Louise, 430 - 1050 Ixelles map

Francesco Clemente's newest series, Bestiary 2020, constitutes of 14 mythical works inspired by the bestiarum vocabulum, a compendium of beasts. Originating in the ancient world, bestiaries were made popular in the Middle Ages in illustrated volumes that described various animals and even rocks. The natural history and illustration of each beast was usually accompanied by a moral lesson. This reflected the belief that the world itself was the Word of God, and that every living thing had its own special meaning. The 5 canvases from the series A Ford in the River, painted in vibrant hues, ranging from intense orange and yellow tones, reminiscent of the colors at dawn, to the most subtle and delicate mauves and pinks of the sky at dusk, hues that can only be experienced fully in person, and escape an appropriate description in words, confirm the artist’s status as one of the premiere colorists alive. Almost veiled by thin lines of dripping colors, contrasting lines mark the silhouettes of two figures, which - through the reduction of their form and undermined by the presence and seduction of the color palette - deny any clear categorization: They are neither clearly identifiable as man nor woman, nor do they give clues about a belonging to any specific ethnic group or age group - they could even represent the same person at different ages, as a form of revisiting and interrogating a former or future self. The strong lines are in contrast with the softness of the modulated hues, and balance the composition’s dichotomy between the seduction of pure abstract color fields and the juxtaposed story told by the two figures. Francesco Clementes’ work has been described as a modern revaluation of the arcane, in its traditional sense: “Stripped of its political exaltation, (…), the arcane for populations without our vocabulary of psychology and sociology played a crucial role in enabling people to adapt to pain and crisis by helping them to channel both an individual and a collective mental focus onto converting turmoil and conflict into growth and evolution (…). It was foremost the language by which people emerged from loss and ruin with a renewed sense of what was called, and for many today is still called, the sacred in life. For the sacred is really no more than an enhanced sensitivity to the ways that nature enables survival at all odds”. In this unprecedented moment in time, when the world is simultaneously dealing with a global pandemic and the overdue heightened awareness by many of existing social injustice, the intimate and sensual interaction of the two figures becomes a symbol of what risks to get lost by the physical, mental and ideological distance that has been imposed or has taken form on all of us. The two figures, condensed to the most simple representation of a human form, situated in a pure realm of color, may give us a reminder of where to find the sacred in life in these times of utmost uncertainty and upheaval.