Francesco Clemente: Encampment

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The nomadic Neapolitan-born artist has created his own tent city at Carriageworks

The concrete jungle of Carriageworks is brighter as of this week, with the arrival of six sprawling hand-painted jewel-toned tents – courtesy of Francesco Clemente.

Taking up 30,000 square feet of the precinct, Clemente's Encampment will be hard to miss. Hopefully, they'll also be hard to resist: the artist wants passersby to take refuge inside from the manic pace of everyday life.

Born in Naples and based in New York and India for much of his career, Clemente broke through the New York art scene in the late 1970s in the company of fellow neo-expressionists Jean-Michel Basquiat and Julian Schnabel. Then he fell in love with India – a love affair that is painted large in this installation, created over three years in collaboration with an artisan community in Rajasthan.

Each tent, painted with angels, creatures and human figures, has a distinct theme or narrative. As a whole, the installation reflects the erotic charge and mysticism that infuses much of Clemente's work, the importance of ritual and the symbolic, and his interest in transitory states.

The full suite of tents created by Clemente and the Rajasthani artisans was previously installed at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.

It's Sydney iteration is the latest in a multi-year partnership between Carriageworks and Melbourne-based gallerist Anna Schwartz, designed to put large-scale installation works in Carriageworks' cavernous public spaces (the first iteration was an exhibition of work by Ghanaian artist El Anatsui, in January).

By: Dee Jefferson

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