Fifty One Days On Mount Abu : XXXVI, Sky | Francesco Clemente

Fifty One Days On Mount Abu : XXXVI, Sky 1995 | Watercolor 27,5 x 20,8 Inch

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This watercolour on paper is part of the series Fifty one days on Mount Abu. Indeed, in 1995, Francesco Clemente spent 51 days alone in Rajasthan, north-west India, on Mount Abu, an important pilgrimage site for Indians for 2,000 years. While there, he painted a watercolour each day, including this portrait.

Against an azure blue sky, a face emerges, presumably that of a woman: closed eyes, voluptuous lips and fair skin depict a calm and sensual person. This figure appears to take shape before the viewer's very eyes, bestowing upon XXXVI, Sky dreamlike and yet real qualities.

This poetic vision is one of the hallmarks of the Italian artist, who creates extremely subjective works based around the human body - either his own or that of a woman - which discuss sexuality, as well as ancestral legends and esoteric symbols that he gleans from non-western cultures. His female figures are charged with sensuality and eroticism; their eyes, hands, ears, feet and mouths: all these elements combine in the hands of the artist, a master of the Italian movement of "Transavanguardia", to create a privileged gateway allowing the spectator to move as close as possible to the divine.

Consequently, this work makes us feel like we are in a dream in which the gentle face of a loved one is called to mind; the image appears both tangible, as a result of the close framing, and hazy, an effect that is achieved using watercolours and is evocative of our sometimes fading memory.

Fascinated by Indian culture since his first journey in 1973, Francesco Clemente spends his life in Italy, New York, the American southwest and India, where he dedicates as much of his time to exploring Hinduism as to popular arts and traditions.