Italian born artist Francesco Clemente (b. 1952, Naples) is a painter whose work spans four decades. His work is stylistically varied, inclusive, erotic and nomadic. It embraces diverse mediums and diverse cultures, aiming at finding wholeness through fragmentation and witnessing the survival of contemplation and pleasure in our mechanical age.
Clemente's work is rooted in political utopia and expresses an anti materialistic stance.
In the 1970's he moved from photography to drawing and anticipated the return to painting of the 1980's.
Clemente's work is nomadic.
In the 1980's he divided his time between India and New York. While briefly associated with Neo Expressionism he took an interest in collaborative works both with Indian craftsmen and with painters like Basquiat and Warhol, and poets like Creeley and Ginsberg in New York.
In the 1990's Clemente's work explored intensely erotic imagery, inspired by the Tantric traditions both of India and Tibet, and turning contemporary preoccupations with identity and sexuality into an occasion to ask questions about the nature of the self.
In the 2000's Clemente's work went through a darker and grotesque phase, returning in the last years to luminous images of repose and transformation.
Since the 1980's until today Clemente also chronicled New York intellectual and social life through a great number of portraits, contributing to the revival of a genre until then somehow discredited.
Clemente's art has been presented in solo and group shows internationally. Major retrospectives have been held in the in the 1990's at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, at The Royal Academy in London, at the Centre Pompidou, Paris and at the Sezon Museum of Art, Tokyo. In 1999-2000 at the Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York and at the Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao.
In the 2000's at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin, at the Museo MADRE, Naples and at the Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt. An exhibition of selfportraits and of Clemente's own version of the Tarot Cards was held at the Uffizi Gallery, Florence in 2011.
Francesco Clemente is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives and works in New York and Varanasi, India.