'Fleur de Lys' paintings, 2004


A selection of the Fleur de Lys paintings executed by Clarke in 2004, in oil and oil stick on canvas. The heraldic device, a core leitmotif of his which first appeared serially in his work in 1998, was extensively investigated by Clarke at the turn of the century in stained glass, jewellery, painting and printmaking.

"Variations on the fleur de lys inaugurated in The Glass Wall (1998, Corning Museum of Glass) augment the cross with a foliate contour that flees from and returns to the central intersection. Virtuoso sequences of drawings and paintings explore the tension between these two. The gothic sign/shape becomes increasingly energised by apparently unpredictable, automatic line without losing its essential emblematic effect. Clarke uses a metaphor of travel: ‘the fleur de lys gives me a route map, a very scenic beautiful route map; I can explore all kinds of diversions so long as I feel I have an ultimate destination’." - Carol Jacobi in her essay ‘Weissnichtwo: Brian Clarke and the Global Sublime’.