Francesco Clemente’s show of new work, Nostalgia/Utopia is on view through June 30 at Mary Boone’s Chelsea gallery in New York City. The large-scale works exemplify his signature style laid by languid, painterly expressions. Referencing Colonial Baroque, Afro-Brazilian, Indian, and urban American cultural imagery, the otherwise undefined subjects are accompanied by three dimensional objects attached directly to their canvases.
The figures of Nostalgia/Utopia convolute imagination, consciousness, experience, and spirituality. Though seemingly familiar and aesthetically comparable to icons of worship, Clemente obscures place and time in the individual works, as well as across the series.
The works share a palette of azur and sapphire blues, warm rose and peach, and other muted desert hues conjuring an emotive affect comparable to Rothko’s deeply saturated color fields. The objects affixed to his cavases range from pearl strands that descend to the concrete floor, a centered African mask, to empty metal water jugs that pour from atop a female figure who’s brown robes hint at a rough Cezanne landscape
Another new series of eighteen gouache and sanguine drawings are included in a small room at the back of the exhibition. Here, Clemente has documented the ideas which inspired the later execution of his larger work.