Clemente, Francesco

I never paint a portrait from a photograph, because a photograph doesn't give enough information about what the person feels.

I am not academically trained, so my portraits are half what I see and the other half is invented or dictated by the person and the painting. That moment when the person actually dictates the way I do the portrait is when the intimacy arrives.

I'm at the age where I don't need an acid trip to feel naked.. to feel that I don't exist. Now a self-portrait is almost a reminder to me that I do exist.

When you sit for an hour and a half in front of somebody, he or she shows about twenty faces. And so it's this crazy chase of, Which face? Which one is the one?

In my head I am in one of those Buddhist caves where you see a thousand Buddha faces on the wall. In my head I am on my seventeen-year-old acid trip, when I saw my personas fall one minute after another, as if I was dying every moment.

When I look at a drawing of a person, I look at that person as living. I don't know how to explain it, but a photograph to me is always a reminder of how the person was on a certain day in that certain light fixed. When I look at a watercolor' of that same person, it seems to me alive, more open than a photograph.

To me the poets are closer than I am to the idea of voice, to a sort of primeval song that we all participate in. Maybe they express more directly a sense of sympathy for other human beings. Painting is a little bit more of a retreat from human beings in real life; painting is more about the extreme moments when speech doesn't help anymore.

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