Architect, scenographer, costume designer and photographer: Fabrizio Clerici reflected the versatility of his artistic poetry into his professional life. In his works, we can find a great deal of accuracy in design and deep cultural references very different to each other. Such as the visionary nature of Giovanni Battista Piranesi, the filologic rigor of the Athanasius Kircher’s studies, the Egyptian mithology, the power of the romantic and oniric suggestions from Caspar Davd Friedrich and Arnold Böcklin.
Fabrizio Clerici was born in Milan in 1913 from a middle-class, catholic, conservative family. In 1920 he moved to Rome, where his father was involved in promoting the reclamation of the swamp area of Paludi Pontine.
In the eternal city he develoed his first interests towards archeology and classical sculpture. When he was young he enrolled in the Artistic Lyceum connected to the Beaux Arts Academy in Ripetta street. He started the school before his father went under process by the fascist regime that made him leave to Brasil and led the family to break apart.
After some happenings, Clerici enrolled in the Architecture faculty of Roma and came into contact with some of the most innovative protagonists of the cultural life in town: Gio Ponti, Salvador Dalì e Gala and lastly Alberto Savinio, with whome he built a long friendship.
At the beginning of the war, Clerici joined the air force with the task of creating trenches. During the conflict he was in Milan, where he gave birth to his first painting The Processes, ispired by the legal process experienced by his father who died in exile in 1939. The painting is called The Minotaur publicly accuses his mother. Salvador Dalí saw it when it was not completed yet, and got fascinated by it. In Milanhe hung out with Bruno Zevi, Carlo Pagani, Pietro Maria Bardi, Lina Bo, Carla Marzoli, Bruno Pontecorvo and, in 1938, he met Giorgio de Chirico who encouraged him in drawing.
Fabrizio Clerici came back to Rome, to stay just in 1949. Fully integrated in the roman cultural life, he actively collaborated with several artists such as, Lucio Fontana, Tristan Tzara, Salvador Dalì, Alberto Moravia, Elsa Morante, Giorgio Strehler (who commissioned the scenes for The artful widow of Carlo Goldoni).
In the ’50s he traveled to the Middle East, gathering suggestions to convey in the series The mirages and the Temples of the egg. The represent constructions in the desert, that start from the central core in which the egg in contained and develop along the spiral.
He never left his interest for classic mythology: Clerici draws imaginery fragments of ancient artworks such as dipinge frammenti immaginari di opere antiche come The Rescue of the Troian Horse (1949-55) or fossil findings with the shape of a safety pin. He also dedicated to editorial works as a numbered edition of The Million of Marco Polo, with original tables and lithographies. In 1977, for a limited number of copies, Clerici produced lithographies to show Le bestiaire of Guillaume Apollinaire.
In the ’70s the romantic inspiration came back with the cycle of paintings inspired to the Island of the dead by Böcklin, and that one connected to Egypt , with Tebane variations. The pictorial cycle about the theme of violence called The bodies of Orvieto appears instead more crepuscolar between 1980 and 1981.
The artist died in Rome in 1992, the year after the Fabrizio Clerici Archive was constituted in respect of his will and safeguard of his memory and works.
The art of Fabrizio Clerici
His painting has multiple original stimuli but always remained connected to metaphisical research. His visionary, oniric and surrealist streak finds his expression in multiple techniques and expressive means. But it remains loyal to the suggestions originated by a filtered reality seen from a very personal point of view.
As Clerici claimed: “Those hints that suggest me a painting are often pictures which have been looked and admired long time ago but that have been revisited and changed through the filter of memory“.