Exhibition promoted by

Sant’Elia Foundation

edited by

Achille Bonito Oliva

Palazzo Sant’Elia – Palermo

Opening November 24, 2013

until March 2, 2014

I’m interested in constructing the picture as if it were the diagram of a field of forces, of energies,
like those puzzle diagrams in newspapers where there are dots to connect.
(Francesco Clemente, in “Flash Art”, 134.1986)

LThe exhibition was born as part of an articulated exhibition project in progress on the Italian Transavantgarde conceived by Achille Bonito Oliva on the occasion of the celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy. Inaugurated in 2011 by the collective exhibition of the same name which opened in Palazzo Reale in Milan under the High Patronage of the President of the Republic, the project involved the major museums of the peninsula in a series of study days, in which philosophers, critics and historians took part dell’arte, and in 5 subsequent personal exhibitions each dedicated to one of the historical protagonists of the Transavantgarde, to retrace the evolution over time and the ultimate results of their various artistic personalities. Curated by Achille Bonito Oliva, promoted by the Regional Province of Palermo and organized in collaboration with Civita, Francesco Clemente’s personal exhibition offers the opportunity to host for the first time in Sicily the work of one of the best-known and internationally appreciated Italian artists. In the prestigious halls of the Sant’Elia Foundation, from 24 November 2013 to 2 March 2014, the exhibition brings together around sixty works representing the themes, iconographic choices and linguistic problems with which the artist has been confronted since half 80s to today and, in particular, in the last 20 years of activity marked by the important retrospective organized by the Salomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York and Bilbao in 1999-2000, which ratified the international fame and recognition achieved by the artist , making him one of the major representatives of Italian culture and talent in the world. The exhibition itinerary follows the artist’s reflection and his progress through successive cycles of work, in which long stays in India and trips to Europe, the Caribbean, Egypt, South America and Jamaica give life to a constantly evolving vocabulary. A large laboratory of ideograms and apotropaic emblems, in which opposites coexist, of symbols and associations often staged by the artist through his own self-portrait, which since the end of the 70s has been the hallmark of his poetics. Among the works in the exhibition: the triptych Crown (1988, MAXXI Arte permanent collection, Rome), which recalls the crown of thorns, symbol of Christ’s passion; Place of Power I (1989, Museo Madre – Donnaregina Foundation, Naples), inspired by the burial chambers of the Valley of the Kings visited by the artist at the end of 1986; the paintings from the Tandoori Satori series (2003-2004), which combine Zen Buddhism and South Asian cuisine with the underground stylizations of 1980s New York marked by the painting of Keith Haring. Born in Naples in 1952 and active between Italy, New York and Madras, Francesco Clemente focuses his work on the quotation of iconographic elements of distant countries subjected to variations and grafts with images and symbols of the Mediterranean tradition, of classical culture and of that contemporary mass media. East and West, North and South of the world, ancient civilizations and modern thought mix and mingle in the artist’s works within a research that shares much with the history and cultural identity of Sicily itself, formed through conquests, invasions and the stringent confrontation between peoples and civilizations of different origins, ethnicity, traditions and religion. In 2012 the artist was awarded the title of Cavaliere della Repubblica Italiana. Clemente is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
The catalogue, published by Giampaolo Prearo, Milan, and conceived by Francesco Clemente in collaboration with the London-based graphic studio Inventory Studio, is accompanied by critical essays by Achille Bonito Oliva and Francesco Gallo Mazzeo.
The exhibition is financed with funds from the ERDF Operational Program (European Fund for Regional Development), Axis III – Operational Objective 3.1.3., Line of intervention “Development of cultural services to the territory and to the artistic and artisanal production that operates in the field of Contemporary Art and Architecture”


Martedì – Domenica dalle 9.30 alle 13.30 e dalle 16.00 alle 19.30

Fondazione Sant’Elia, tel. 0916628289 – Via Maqueda, 81 – 90133 Palermo

Ticket €5,00 intero, €4,00 ridotto (universitari e over 60)