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Francesco Clemente at ALBERTINA Museum

I am against everything that is dogmatic, immovable, static; also for reasons of contemporary language. I have always been aware that there is an indispensable need for immersing any kind of revelation in a healing bath of irony, distancing and fragmentation. I have resorted to a whole range of strategies to put the image into perspective. I'm not interested in an image that is hypnotic, immovable and fixed once and for all; I want to make it dynamic ... the image is as it is, but it could be otherwise. Francesco Clemente



The solo exhibition dedicated to one of the outstanding protagonists of Transavanguardia and international figurative art Francesco Clemente, opening on July 27th at the ALBERTINA Museum in Vienna, is going to be one of the most eagerly anticipated cultural events of the season.


The exhibition was conceived as one of the steps aimed to celebrate the donation in 2019 of the Rafael and Teresa Jablonka Collection to the Austrian institution: 400 works as a permanent loan.


Rafael Jablonka - the legendary gallery owner, patron of the arts and collector of German and American Art from the 1980’s with outstanding pieces by Francesco Clemente, Mike Kelley, Eric Fischl, Richard Deacon just to name a few – has curated the survey in strict collaboration with the artist.


In addition to works by Clemente from the Jablonka Collection, several other key works from the ALBERTINA Collection are also on display.


Francesco Clemente has always operated in the direction of a fierce nomadism in his life as well as in his oeuvre, where the undifferentiated use of many media and techniques found sustainment over the years in the leitmotiv of imagination, symbolism, repetition and in a profound research on myths and on rituals.


An important focus is dedicated to the artist’s self-portraits, a theme largely explored by  Clemente both on paper or canvas to question the idea of the self, where the artist’s body – exaggerated and fragmented in its details such as eyes or hands – seamlessly blends to the background.


“The self portrait – wrote Salman Rushdie in 2006 – is the interrogation of what the artist knows best, but it is also the most polymorphous of forms, emphasizing continuity or change, surface or depth, mask or skull. The more one looks at self portraits the more one begins to feel that metamorphosis, the art of the protean, may lie closer to the truth about the form than representation, and this, finally, is why Francesco Clemente’s new pictures of himself are so interesting. Clemente is a metamorph par excellence—actor, clown, mask, avatar—and, as slippery as the legendary Old Man of the Sea, he wriggles hard when you try to pin him down.”

A further highlight from the show is represented by the artist's book of 1983 The Departure of the Argonaut, that marked the beginning of Clemente's experimentation with text illustration and lithographic techniques.


Published in 1917-1918, The Departure of the Argonaut is a book by Alberto Savinio (1891-1952) who, sent to Greece as an interpreter during the WWI and inspired by the heroic voyage of Jason and the Argonauts, documented his journey from Ferrara to Thessaloniki as a sort of wartime diary, writing a text full of cultural references.


At ALBERTINA are on view 48 black and white lithographs from Clemente that illuminate and play with Savinio's original auto-biographical saga, conveying reflections on focus, movement, symmetry and growth.