New York

Francesco Clemente

Gagosian | 522 West 21st Street

In his small new paintings and drawings, Francesco Clemente is preoccupied with body parts, particularly male and female genitals, but also the head and heart (the latter in the form of a clichéd sign). They are presented as ritual “oblations” (the term supplies the title for many of the works), that is, as sacrificial offerings. Bloodish brown dominates, but sky blue and shady black add atmosphere. In one work entitled Head, 1990, a head is presented on a white crescent of moon (a nod to St. John the Baptist?). Indeed, this image underscores the implicit violence of the works, though their cool stylization and shamanistic pretense may distract us from it. In one work entitled Oblation, 1990, blood pours from a woman’s severed arms and vagina. (The old pre-feminist superstition of the menstrual mystery—woman’s “sacrifice” to nature, making her its forbidden but also dumb victim?) Again

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