Watchtowers, Keys, Threads, Gates at Dallas Contemporary features a site-specific mural and two groups of sculptures by Francesco Clemente, produced in collaboration with local metal artisans in Jodhpur, Rajasthan. In its focus on sculpture, the exhibition offers a rare glimpse into a less known part of the artist's oeuvre. Celebrated for his talents as a colourist, Clemente only worked on a few occasions in sculpture over the four decades of his career. This particular body of work reflects Clemente's deep appreciation for traditional Indian mythological narratives.
The Watchtowers sculptures are constructed from cast aluminum, found objects and paint. They can be variously described as ladders, platforms or altars.The sculptural series broadly revisits ideas explored in Madras painting through forms that are simultaneously architectural and figural, representational and abstract.
Wall of Gates is a group of eight freestanding metal frames whose dimensions allude to the proportions of a gate. 97 vintage Indian iron keys are connected to the frame by a net-like structure, built from votive strings that worshipers are traditionally given at the entrance of a temple.
The mural is created in the exhibition space over a concentrated period of time in a spontaneous, intensive process. Clemente creates drawings of invented zodiac signs with sepia pencils, whilst mural painters from Oaxaca fill these outlines with oxblood-coloured motifs of rolling waves.