‘Dangerous Visions’/The Punk paintings


As punk rock was able to sweep the board clean in music, so must the board be cleared in visual art.

– Brian, 1979, in 'Towards a New Constructivism', the opening chapter of his book Architectural Stained Glass

“The Punk paintings were the direct outcome of culture-shock. The first was ‘Dangerous Visions 1’, painted in one night – ‘in a state of frenzy’. The single incision is reminiscent of the Italian artist Lucio Fontana’s spatialist canvases. Brian accepts that Fontana was the first to slash a canvas but claims to be the first to patch them up again. In ‘Dangerous Visions 1’ it is a deep angry gash and although it is partially covered up with canvas patches, jumbo paper-clips and a safety-pin (an overt punk reference) the ‘wound’ has bled profusely over the lower part of the canvas, the ‘blood’ in this case being a mixture of varnish, woodworm killer and glue-size. ‘City Boy’ is the most affectionate of the punk paintings. The outline of the bass guitar was taken from Brian’s own instrument, one he did not use during his involvement with a group called The Uncommitted. They advertised gigs and were even offered a television spot, but did not actually play music, though they did discuss the possibility from time to time in 1977.” – Martin Harrison in the 1981 monograph Brian Clarke.

"The self-inflicted isolation of the contemporary artist and the mistrust levelled against the architect are both important contributing factors in the current situation of architectural art. The painter is anxious to keep intact the historical image of artist as loner, the intense sensitive, the genius and “maestro”; while the architect, feeling the watchful eye of his client constantly over his shoulder, approaches any extra-to-budget expense, such as art, with considerable trepidation, guarding jealously any intrusion into *his* building by potential glory-thieves. However, in fairness to the architect (in this instance, architects as opposed to builders with architectural degrees) it must be stated that he has not, in the past fifty years, seen much evidence of the successful marriage of art to architecture. Sadly, the heights to which the average architect is able to aspire in his sanctioning of the principles of architectonic art is the introduction into his building of the occasional “decorative wall feature”, usually mounted above the “decorative foliage feature.” – Brian in the polemical essay ‘Towards a New Constructivism’, which opens his 1979 book Architectural Stained Glass.