During the 1980s, the Italian painter Francesco Clemente became one of the outstanding international artists. Harking back to the tradition of Indian imagery, the Romanticism of William Blake and Italian Renaissance fresco painting, he developed in the late 1970s a poetic form which made a significant contribution to the return of figurative painting.
"I could not believe the style of the first show I saw of Francesco Clemente. When I met him at an opening a couple of weeks later, I said: 'You're the best thing out of Italy since De Chirico' - and we became friends. Since I am not a spontaneous person, I think I was as shocked as Francesco. I loved the dry and physical surfaces, the uncompromising, strong images, the combination of obsessive primitive energy for details and the worldly sophistication in integrating content and style" (Alex Katz).
The Salzburg exhibition comprises thirteen powerful portraits of people from the artist's immediate circle of friends and family. The genre of the portrait has a specific place in Clemente's œuvre: as in the work of American artists such as Chuck Close, Andy Warhol or Alex Katz, Clemente's portraits of outstanding figures in the world of music, art and literature have proved to be a constant seismograph of the state of a society. Clemente takes an eastern view of a western genre; although he observes with extreme precision the details of his subjects' physiognomy, dress and hair-style, they appear to exist in some metaphysical region with no recognisable setting - they look two-dimensional and unreal, like naïve, primitivistic, archaic images of the saints of some unknown cultural area.
Talking about Francesco Clemente, Henry Geldzahler once described his intuitive way of arranging his subject on the paper or the canvas, and said that the lack of any academic structure explained a great part of the exotic attraction emanating from Clemente's work; academic rules for composition or "proper drawing" were not important to him, and he rejected categories such as "modern" or "post-modern".
Francesco Clemente was born in 1952 in Naples, where he attended a conservative humanist school which gave him a wide education in classical languages and literature. From 1970 he studied architecture at the University of Rome, and began concurrently to exhibit his drawings, photographs and conceptual works in Europe. From 1973, he travelled regularly to India, and in 1981 he moved to New York. Clemente has frequently worked in collaboration: in India with native craftsmen and in New York with artists such as Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat. He has also illustrated many books by writers including John Wieners, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Creeley and René Ricard.
Since the mid-'80s especially, Clemente's work has been the subject of many exhibitions: in the Berlin National Gallery (1984/85), Basel Museum of Contemporary Art (1987), Philadelphia Museum of Art (1990), Royal Academy of Arts, London (1991), Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (1994/95) and Galleria d'Arte Moderna, Bologna (1999). In 1999/2000, the New York Guggenheim Museum showed a comprehensive retrospective of his work, which was subsequently shown in the Bilbao Guggenheim Museum. One of the most recent major exhibitions was organised by the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli (2002/03).
April 7 - May 19, 2007
For the opening of our new ANNEX, we are delighted to invite one of the best-known young Berlin artists: Marc Brandenburg.
At first glance, Brandenburg's delicate pencil drawings, seem like negatives of snapshots from a bizarre parallel world. His photo-realistic scenes of demonstrators, flag-waving football fans, clowns, fairgrounds, portraits of friends and relatives, fountains and monumentally over-inflated Christmas decorations have an unsettlingly threatening effect. The silvery, shiny materiality of the graphite surfaces is combined with finely-nuanced, tapering contours. Everything is bathed in a blaze of unreal light. The motifs on the white paper appear deprived of their original peaceful character.
Brandenburg "examines in drawing the masks and symbols of a ruthless event culture: the ritual masquerading of football fans, the chubby bodies of fairground figures and mascots, the slogans and symbols on pennants, banners and hoardings" (Oliver Koerner von Gustorf). He draws from his own photos which attempt to freeze the moment of veering from one motif to another. What concerns him is the interval: "This is like a cut in film, or individual stills that make up a film. It's like trying to depict an aura," Brandenburg explained recently in an interview.
In his speech at the award of the 2005 Karl Ströher Prize to Marc Brandenburg in the Frankfurt Museum of Modern Art, Ulf Poschardt remarked that although Brandenburg stands in the tradition of Pop and its delight in the surface itself, he still combines the aspects of realism and transfiguration in a contemporary manner. Poschardt also said that "it was not so much the media world and its images that Brandenburg captured, but moments of experienced intensity. A timid viewer (and aren't we all, when faced with delicate, intimate drawings?) has the feeling that he is looking at the negatives of snapshots of a deeply-felt life. The refined technical skill of Marc Brandenburg's work perpetuates the snapshot. The moment was given permanence. The shock of the moment has been lastingly sketched in." There is an evident affinity with the 19th-century genre and history painter Adolf von Menzel, whom Brandenburg greatly admires. Also Berlin Neue Sachlichkeit [new objectivity] painters such as Otto Dix and George Grosz can be seen as precursors of Brandenburg.
Born in Berlin in 1965, Brandenburg grew up in Texas and Germany. In the early 1990s he shot to fame with his forceful graphite drawings, and within a very short time he rose to the top league of the young German art scene. Now his works are included in collections such as that of MoMA New York, German Bank, Judith Rothschild Foundation, Berlin Copper Engraving Museum, Hamburg Kunsthalle, and Frankfurt Museum of Modern Art, and exhibited in international museums. Our exhibition comprises 16 drawings, all from the past twelve months, presented in a room painted completely black and lit with black light.
Image: Francesco Clemente, Salman Rushdie. Oil on linen 152.4 x 76.8 cm (60 x 30.3 in)
Thaddaeus Ropac Salzburg
Mirabellplatz 2, 5020 Salzburg Austria
TUESDAY-FRIDAY 10AM-6PM, SATURDAY 10AM-2PM
OPENING HOURS DURING THE EASTER FESTIVAL:
31 MARCH - 9 APRIL, MON - SAT 10 AM - 6 PM
SUNDAYS AND EASTERMONDAY: 10 AM - 1PM