WORKS ON PAPER EXHIBITION
Featuring 100 previosly unseen works on paper from 1969 to present day
February 28 - March 27, 2011
Location: Phillips de Pury & Company, Saatchi Gallery, Duke of
York’s Square, London, SW3 4SQ
London – Phillips de Pury & Company is pleased to announce an exhibition of works on paper by Brian Clarke opening on February 28 at Phillips de Pury & Company’s galleries at the Saatchi Gallery. This exhibition is Clarke’s first comprehensive show of works on paper, with 100 works spanning 40-plus years of the artist’s career, from 1969 to the present day. “Brian Clarke is an artist of considerable achievement and his drawings are the point of departure for all his work; they give a fascinating insight into his artistic practice. I am particularly happy that we should present his first ever show of works on paper. ” Simon de Pury, Chairman of Phillips de Pury & Company. Clarke is recognized as an exceptional talent and highly innovative artist, constantly exploring new ways of working with glass, colour and light, while building on the foundations of his drawing. His line influences and informs all works in other media, visible in his painting, sculpture, mosaics, textiles and, lately, jewellery. His large-scale stained glass works in public places demonstrate his close affinity with and understanding of architecture, and his preoccupation with the core issues of space and light.
Brian Clarke is an artist who draws as he breathes: “I’ve been waiting all my life for my line to express who I really am inside, deep down, honestly”, he says. This exhibition, curated by Bettina von Hase, demonstrates the achievement of his goal. In Clarke’s work, drawing is as relevant as other media. The drawings, grids and other collages exude a distilled, authentic atmosphere, at once completely fresh but with the patina of their own time. They divide into two broadly chronological parts. The first is
retrospective, the second recent where some works, the rose windows on black paper, the gothic literature windows, the spitfires, and Porsche cars drawings, were made especially for this show.
There are gaps in the chronology, as a fire destroyed a large number of works in the late 80s, and in the 90s, Clarke focused more on tearing sections from new drawings, using fragments of lines that excited him, in a deliberate move away from figuration.
“A dominant aspect of the works is their coherence, visible in the continuing passionate investigation of shapes and personal symbols that the artist is drawn to”, von Hase says.
They are sometimes held by his grids, which have a disciplined formality, only to be subverted by spontaneous inclusions he refers to as “the quiet little whistle of a line”. Then there is the cross, with its vertical and horizontal line echoing an architectural structure rather than a religious symbol. The gothic windows and spitfires are infused with a poetic and keen awareness of the passage of time.
Clarke was surprised when he reviewed the works while preparing for this exhibition. It made him feel that he had been justified in “chasing the same rainbow since I was 16 years old”.
Highlights from the retrospective part of the exhibition include: Early drawings of the female form with black, collaged paper fragments, titled Life Drawing,1969; and portraits of friends and early life drawings of the male nude, followed by layered newspaper collages and drawings made in the 80s in London and New York. A series of abstract works with a distinct rhythmic touch demonstrate an increasing preoccupation with what art historian Martin Harrison calls Clarke’s ‘northern nervous line’.
The section of recent works includes 14 vibrantly coloured collages, closely reminiscent of Clarke’s stained glass works, where luminous hues of colour are visible through the grids; gold and silver caramel wrappings and multi-coloured paint tubes on white Velin Arches paper; and two sets of 10 gothic windows collaged with books that have a special meaning to the artist. Large Gothic rose windows on black paper, next to caramel wrappers and paint tubes also pictured on the front and back cover of the catalogue, sum up Clarke’s inherent belief that there is nothing so unimportant that it might not be of potential significance to an artist. Whether rose window, caramel or paint tube, he invests all with grace.
NOTES TO EDITORS ON BRIAN CLARKE:
Born in 1953 in Oldham, Lancashire, England, Brian Clarke lives and works in London and Munich. Clarke’s prolific artistic practice is built upon using light to explore the essential link between art and architecture.
Since the early 1970s, the artist has worked on over two hundred stained glass projects in collaboration with some of the world’s most prominent architects and artists.
Some of Clarke’s most notable “art-in-architecture” projects include: the stained glass for King Kahled International Airport, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. 1982; Victoria Quarter, Leeds, England. 1989; Lake Sagami Country Club, Tokyo, Japan. 1989; Haus der Energie, EAM, Kassel, Germany. 1992; NorteShopping, Rio de Janerio, Brazil. 1995; Pfizer Pharmaceutical HQ, New York, USA. 1996; Al Faisaliah Centre, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. 2000; Pyramid of Peace, Astana,
Kazakhstan. 2006; Apax Partners HQ, London, England, 2007; Linköping Cathedral, Linköping, Sweden. 2010.
Clarke’s stained glass works and paintings have been widely exhibited, including at: Vitromusée (Romont, Switzerland), Tony Shafrazi Gallery (New York), Gagosian Gallery (London), Stadt Museum München (Munich), Phillips de Pury (New York), Faggionato Fine Arts (London), the Mayor Gallery (London), Hessisches Landesmuseum (Darmstadt), Karsten Greve Gallerie (Köln), the Sezon Museum of Art (Tokyo), the Centre International de Vitrail (Chartres) Deutsches Architekturmuseum (Frankfurt), Robert Fraser Gallery (London) and the Royal Institute of British Architects. Clarke also designed stage sets for two of Paul McCartney’s world tours, and stage sets for the Dutch National Ballet.
Brian Clarke is a visiting Professor of Architectural Art at the Bartlett Institute of Architecture, University College London (UCL); an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA); Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts;
Honorary Doctorate (Hon. D. Litt.) University of Huddersfield; Chairman of The Architecture Foundation; Sole Executor and Chairman of The Estate of Francis Bacon; Trustee and Council Member of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust;
and Trustee of the Capital City Academy and the Lowe Educational Foundation.