The 'Tribute' paintings, 1976–1977


In the late 1970s, Clarke painted a series of 'tributes' – to architect Mies van der Rohe, artists Richard Smith and Kasimir Malevich, and lastly to the Willis Faber Building: Site Plan, painted in acrylic on canvas in 1977–8, was inspired by Foster's seminal 1975 high-tech structure in Ipswich, for which Clarke was later commissioned to design a tapestry, and is in the collection of Museums Sheffield at the Sheffield City Art Gallery.

"The first time the cross occurred as a conscious element in my painting was in 1977 – I had intended to paint a homage to the Russian Suprematist artist Kasimir Malevich. I’d nearly completed the work but wasn’t satisfied, so decided to reverse the canvas and paint on the back. It was night, and the moonlight coming through the windows into my studio lit the cross-shaped framework of the stretcher, the light was purple and it was beautiful. The solution was right there – I painted around the cross. 'Tribute to Malevich' was the first instance of the motif that has preoccupied a great part of my art." – Brian, 2019.