Francesco Clemente (1952 - ) is an Italian contemporary painter, who spent a considerable amount of time in India, Tibet, and New York. Due to his culturally-diverse background, his works are stylistically varied, and he uses various mediums. For instance, if you look at Clemente’s work called Name, you may find both western and eastern artistic characteristics. You can find western elements from the Greek ancient architecture in the background, and the facial structure of a Caucasian male. On the other hand, you can find eastern elements from the strong, contrasting colors, which is often used in India and Tibet. Also, the hair and the eye colors are racially neutral.
By the way, isn’t Name really interesting to look at? I could not quite understand the work at first sight, so I began to look into other portraits of Clemente. When I looked at Grisaille Self Portrait, I saw a melancholy face at first, then an angry expression. From looking at Self Portrait with Alba, I realized that two women in the painting had the same emotional expression – sadness – but was portrayed in opposing energies (perhaps good/evil?). Then, I started to reason that maybe, Clemente was trying to show duality, multiplicity, and complexity of the nature of emotion. This is why he made it possible for spectators to see what they wanted to see.
This discovery got me thinking of Kant’s Critique of Judgment, and then Kant’s thoughts about aesthetics just hit my head. I could not agree more: he explains that there are two ways to look at aesthetics, which are beauty and sublimity. When beauty is apparent right away, sublimity is mysterious and ineffable. So if you encounter a moment where you find an artwork that is not necessarily “pretty” or “beautiful,” but you still find “weird” beauty in it, you are probably looking at a sublime artwork. And Francesco Clemente’s art works are sublime – to me, at least.