From 15 September to 16 November, Francesco Clemente presents a new solo show, Watchtowers, Gates and The Sea of Stories, at Blain|Southern Berlin. The exhibition transforms the gallery with monumental mural The Sea of Stories, made in collaboration with Mexican muralists. The mural is accompanied by two bodies of sculptural works created in a collaboration between Clemente and artisans in Rajasthan, marking the first time Clemente’s sculptural work has been displayed in Europe.
Created on site at Blain|Southern, The Sea of Stones spans the entire length of the gallery. The mural is a reworking of the twelve astrological signs drawn directly onto the gallery wall. Continuing his ongoing collaboration with artists and artisans from around the world, The Sea of Stories includes layers of oxblood paint added by muralists from Oaxaca in Mexico. Each of the zodiac signs in the mural represents a gateway.
The Sea of Stones is shown alongside two sculptural works, Watchtowers and Wall of Gates, which are examples of the way the artist’s techniques in painting and work on paper extend into three dimensions. In Wall of Gates, 97 vintage iron keys are hung from freestanding metal frames. The keys are connected by networks of votive string, traditionally given out at holy sites to worshippers. The piece creates a visual paradox in which open gates are blocked by dense networks of keys.
Watchtowers (2014-2019), a group of sculptures created by Clemente and his collaborators in Rajasthan, brings together a collection of aluminium castings of everyday Rajasthani objects. The sculptures build upwards, with recognisable objects interwoven with ladder-like structures and platforms which Clemente describes in terms of alters on which offerings are places ‘to avoid the flood to come’. The sculptures are precarious, complex entanglements, referencing both the haphazard order of everyday life and the scaffolding transforming buildings across Rajasthan.