Lévy Gorvy’s New York gallery reopened earlier this week with “Francesco Clemente: Watercolors.” Curated by a friend of the artist, Bill Katz, it looks at thirty years of Clemente’s work in the medium, showcasing the extensive physical and metaphysical ideas that lie at the root of his practice.
Pieces from series like “A Story Well Told” explore erotic impulses through impassive depictions of coupled nude figures—often intertwining characteristics of plants with his human subjects. The exhibition also includes his latest “Beauty Without Witness” works made in isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic. In these, Clemente depicts toys and sea creatures in the ocean, painted in rich, lively hues.
The artist uses his work to unfold the fantasies and stories humans have, throughout history, turned into myths, driven by an ongoing confrontation of the suggestiveness of reality. Though watercolor took the forefront in his earlier career for its portable nature during time spent traveling through India, Clemente’s oeuvre encompasses mediums like ink, tempera, tapestry, and sculpture.
The exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated publication, which includes a playlist of poetry, selected by Clemente creating a dialogue with the works on view, as well as relevant essays by Carlos Basualdo and Raymond Foye. “Francesco Clemente: Watercolors” is open now both to the public and by appointment.