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May 31 2009 1 31 /05 /May /2009 15:23

This spring, the curious Deitch Gallery decided to present monumental and contemplative works of two artists : Jonathan  Borofsky with "Five large paintings" (until June 20th) and Francesco Clemente  with "A History of the Heart of the Rainbow" (until May 30th).

Jonathan Borofsky is considered as one of the most influential artist of his generation: In the 70’s and 80’s he contributed to redefine the way art was installed and experienced through the creation of large scales works for public settings. The 100 foot tall "Walking to the Sky" that was installed at the Rockefeller Center made him widely known.  Today, with these five monumental paintings and the installation of sculptures, the artist continues to express what characterizes him the most : the fact that everything is connected, and that All is One. Issued from his "Human Structures" series, these works are elaborated under the concept of humanity building itself.

 “Covering the walls of the main gallery are five 12 x 12 paintings on stretched linen. These brightly colored paintings depict male and female forms organically arranged in solid white shapes created by their absence –“the light that connects us all together”, as Borofsky refers to it. This symbolic union is mirrored in the front gallery, where Borofsky installed the freestanding sculpture Human structures with the Light of Consciousness. Composed of many males and females figures, each cast in an array of semi-transparent polycarbonate colors, the figures lock together (hand-to-hand and head-to foot) to form a structure, which spans the length of the room”
Thus, a great sensation of humanity as mutual aid and fundamental link between people is here expressed, and puts a frank smile on our face.

With  "A history of the Heart in three Rainbows", Francesco Clemente  offers us a moment of contemplation and reflection. Wrapped around the perimeter of the gallery, the monumental suite of large scale watercolor paintings creates an exotic and thoughtful atmosphere. Hearts in cages hanged at a tree, harlequins clothes, characters praying of doing some rituals, the elements represented follow the color scale of the rainbow.

For Clemente, the rainbow is a bridge, a structure to bring things together, like religion in its original sense. The rainbow represents the necessity to connect different worlds. The translucence of the rainbow connects with the translucence of watercolor. The rainbow unmasks the nature of light and watercolor brings the light out of paper. In watercolor, the artist does not build the highlights – they are the parts the artist does not touch. The light is behind the paint.

The artist considers his paintings to be ritual implements. They function as mnemonics, keys to remembering the practice of daily ritual. The vocabulary developed in his paintings is issued from various traditions : the tantric from India, the alchemic from Europe, and candomblé from the Americas. The harlequin that appears in the narrative is an icon of the fragmentation of self, a surrogate for the artist and a link to man’s primeval nature. The artist notes that the earliest image of a harlequin is a man covered in leaves. The webs, cages and fences in the paintings may mean confinement, but they also connote the interrelationship of all things, and ultimately, freedom.
Since the medium is the watercolors, a feeling of lightness and traveling overwhelms us.

Finally, with the spring,  a sense of peace seems to be coming... after this too harsh winter that the gallery expressed through a series of very potent exhibitions in relation with the criticism of the socioeconomic background, Deitch Gallery brings finally to the viewer some respiration and spiritual elevation.

[Visuals : Top : Jonathan Borofsky, Five Large Paintings, Installation view, Deitch Projects, 76 Grand Street, May 8 - June 20, 2009, Photo by Adam Reich. Bottom : Francesco Clemente, A History of the Heart in Three Rainbows, Installation view, May 2 - 30, 2009, Deitch Projects 18 Wooster Street, Photo by Adam Reich]

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