Francesco Clemente @ Blain|Southern London

Blain|Southern gallery presents the solo show of Italian artist Francesco Clemente. Titled ‘Mandala for Crusoe’, the exhibition introduces 14 new medium and large sized linen canvas paintings.

Clemente’s oeuvre has been heavily influenced by the philosophical idiosyncrasies of William Blake, Jiddu Krishnamurti and others. Splitting his time between New York and Varanasi in India since the 1970s, he equally embraced the Eastern and Western visual elements into the main body of his work. His collaboration with plentiful artists such as Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat brought him close to pop art and other subsequent art movements whereas the Hindu and Buddhist cultural systems infused his work with analogous philosophical and spiritual associations.

The present exhibition is an assemblage of all those components that Clemente explored and dealt with throughout his long term relationship between the two worlds. The significance of Mandala seems to play an imperative role in his artistic vocabulary. Its connection with the cosmos through the state of meditation, balance and personal realisation is linked with the symbolism of isolation of Clemente’s chosen Western hero, Crusoe.

The canvases on show narrate a system of complex worlds where human hypostasis integrates with nature and universe, constructing a complex network of oneiric loci. Clemente’s paintings are an amalgamation of cultural iconography and characteristics; ancient Greek architectural forms, Renaissance pictorial traditions and 20th century art mannerism are imbued with the omnipresence and mysticism of Hinduism, not only with the re-occurring symbolism of Mandalas but also with the emerging statements of ceremonial Sanskrit text and the complexity of archetypal semiotics.

‘Mandala for Crusoe’ is not just a mundane exhibition title, it encompasses an entire cosmotheory indicating and suggesting the path leading from an esoteric exploration towards catharsis. The connection of human existence with nature as well as spiritualism develops into an emotional multi channelled dialogue between earthly and cosmic forces. A dialogue that acts as a bridge between the personal unconscious on a universal level, a state where the achievement of mental stability and harmony becomes synonymous with the wholeness of the self.