Don't Forget the Lamb
13th September 2008 to 18th December 2008
Phillips de Pury, New York, 450 West 15 Street
"Phillips de Pury & Company will present an exhibition of selected paintings and stained-glass works by Brian Clarke, the British artist and a forerunner of contemporary stained glass, to be held at the company’s New York galleries from 13 September 2008. His principle medium being light, Brian Clarke’s compositions in colored glass hold the power to transform a space. His work can be found in historic locations across the globe, imbuing the interiors with renewed channels of contemplation and also in monumental glass projects which have expanded the remit of the modern architectural experience. Equally important to Brian Clarke’s practice is painting on canvas which allows the artist the freedom to explore and build his abstract symbolic language and its syncopated order and disruptions — devices which are often applied to his compositions in glass. The work in both painting and glass aspires to the transcendental and poetic and illustrates the artist’s proficiency with working across vastly different scales.
Thirty works will be exhibited and will present the vital pollination between painting and work in stained glass that has existed throughout the artist’s career. The material in this exhibition is both a distillation of the artist’s oeuvre to date as well as a progression of style in which image-making has addressed with the figure and more narrative than in the past. Highlights of the exhibition will include a series of seven large portraits of influential figures in the artist’s life. Study for Portrait of John Piper, 2007, like many of the works in this exhibition, uses the human skull as a starting point. The skull forms the basis for these personal portraits; representing the elemental anatomy and architecture for the subject’s intellect which is then built upon with the emotive and psychological powers of color and form. The British artist, John Piper who died in 1993 was a mentor and early influence on the artist. He is represented here frontally, reminiscent of the perspective employed in Piper’s still-lives. Backlit by a luminous orange sun, the subject’s opaque skull is analogous to the lead of a stained-glass window. Additional works include portraits of Andy Warhol, Kenneth Clark, Henry Moore and Ben Nicholson.
Seven large lead and stained-glass works featuring the human skull present a new twist on the traditional use of stained glass. In these works, the lead has become the dominant feature, inscribed with the artist’s drawing and accented with contours of colored glass. These works bear witness to Brian Clarke’s mastery of his art and reveal the potency of painted glass as a medium. Don’t Forget the Lamb and The Office for the Dead, both completed this year, are two large works in lead and stained glass that embody many facets of the artist’s approach — a sophisticated and unconventional use of a traditional medium that expresses the emotion of profound loss, in this case the artist’s mother, with color, verse, and wit. In Don’t Forget the Lamb, daily shopping lists written in the artist’s mother’s hand are rendered in lead. The Office for the Dead incorporates a prosaic reminder to buy groceries and medication alongside references to mortality and the Book of Common Prayer. The introduction in the accompanying catalogue will feature an interview with the artist by Doris Saatchi."