Exhibitions

Transillumination

2nd November 2002 to 13th December 2002

Tony Shafrazi Gallery, 119 Wooster Street, New York


"A crucial step in evolving his new approach, Clarke’s renunciation of the linear element of stained glass in favour of exploring form and colour remains an unexpected (if only temporary) strategy for this fluent draughtsman. The three layers of glass from which the works in Transillumination are fabricated are each 1/4 inch in thickness. The radical and complex technique was originally devised for the West Winter Garden, Canary Wharf, which Clarke envisioned as a total environment, rather than a window, a wall, or a decorative membrane. The two flower panels in Transillumination are based on passages designed for the Winter Garden; their elegiac quality and diffused but rich tonalities speak lucidly of a humane gesture, introducing nature as a palliative into a depleted urban culture.

The ‘dots’ themselves are executed in enamel glass-paint, which, since glass is a constituent, retains its transparency when permanently ‘fired’ at a very high temperature onto the raw glass in the kiln. The dot form, which stems from computer technology, the ink pin-dots produced by a dot-matrix printer, also recalls the ‘Ben Day dots’ invented by the eponymous Mr Day in the 1870s to facilitate the half-tone reproduction of photographs in newsprint; the exponent who most notably revived this device in painting was, of course, Roy Lichtenstein.

In 'Transillumination' this widely imitated artist has initiated another pioneering strategy and diverted the craft into functioning as an uncompromised vehicle for his vision. He has evolved a way to integrate his concern with the body into designs that comply with the disciplines of an architectural situation, and even succeeded in rendering the pathos of his musings on transience in a life-affirming form. In the context of architecture as ‘mother-of-the-arts’ he has created from a transparent web of dots on a flat plane within three-dimensional space, a radiant pictorial surface constructed from a cooled liquid and activated by transmitted light; standing astride definition as either solid or void, his glass panels are able to articulate and activate an interior, not eliminating but acknowledging and incorporating the exterior environment." – art historian Martin Harrison in the opening essay to the catalogue Transillumination.