Developing the Narrative

Great Expectations Francesco Clemente
“The future, as always, does not lie in front of successful individuals, it must rest within them. Tourists and refugees inhabit our world,” says Italian artist Franceso Clemente. “Either you embrace change or you try to escape from it.”

I found this quote in a book by Kjell A Nordström and Jonas Ridderstråle many years ago. It inspired a brief post on design of future.

When I returned to the quote, it was with the desire to learn more about the part that rests within. I found a few reference points to continue filling in this picture, how the pieces go together.

The connection between understanding, acceptance, and listening

In a 2008 interview with Charlie Rose, Clemente says:

Boredom is very important. Boredom is the origin of any good idea.

Waiting is also important. To be able to wait is important. In painting, waiting is a big part of the effort.

Waiting for both the mind and the material to make their narrative explicit, to develop the narrative.

Painting is not so much about decision, it's more about acceptance… of the fact that certain structures, orders, and narratives they really have their own saying and all you have to do is to listen.

When he saw Velasquez he understood that there were things in the world that he had absolutely no understanding about. He says:

This was my first encounter with suffering at a very early age. I looked up over this thing heartbroken and knew there was absolutely no way for me of understanding what it was and at the same time it had so much more physical presence, so much more than anything else around me.


I didn't know I wanted to be a painter. I'm a painter by default, because I really didn't want to be anything else.

Developing the narrative

In a more recent interview, Francesco Clements talks about the healing power of images, how he believes in inclusiveness, why he travels to India, and lives in New York City. New York city is where the inclusive culture of middle Europe survives, he says.

As Clemente says, his work develops in a non-linear mode, expanding and contracting in a fragmentary way, not defined by a style, but rather by his recording of the fluctuations of the self.

“I feel comfortable in not belonging.”

This is the territory of big ideas where we are “waiting for the mind and the material to develop the narrative.”


[image from the movie Great Expectations, where “paintings and drawings by Francesco Clemente, repping the work done by Finn, are distinctive and eye-catching.”]

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