Force of Nature
10th June – 4th July 2015
“In recent years Denis Clarke’s work has made a fundamental shift in its pictorial concerns regarding his subject, the landscape.
He draws and paints a complex and intimate view of the forest, a microcosm of rocks, cliffs, bark and burnt wood, in a vigorous gestural manner which evokes a real sense of being there in the bush. In fact recently, some of his subjects have become more and more close up so that horizons and sky no longer fit into the view. In these later works his focus has shifted from representation towards a subtle juxtaposition of painted spaces and drawn marks, between the tree trunks on a foreshortened ground.
He has gone from subject to object; his work now is as much about the expressive qualities of paint and canvas as it is about the sensation and experience of being in the bush”. Paul Selwood
Objects we know will always obey the name that we give them. What I aim to do in painting is to tell another story, one that is not what our expectations, through habit, demand.
This exhibition concentrates on work closely observed from nature and is driven by my belief that marks inspired through all the senses, particularly sight and touch, convey the dynamic and feel of what I am observing.
My way of working involves both observation and experiment, madness and discipline. In creating work from natural subject matter, it is paramount that I work in front of it, in it, and surrounded by it. The outdoors becomes temporarily ‘the studio’. I don’t see this as restrictive - on the contrary it is the life source for making art - it gives me a chance to react to and define the essential structure, space, movement and shifting patterns.
In nature I am looking at something unknown, as if previously unseen. There is at the same time the power of harmony and balance but also a rich impending chaos. Things present themselves in the moment, as oddly configured, deformed and beautifully formed - all at once.
The late British art critic and writer, David Sylvester, referred to the opposing forces in art of the wild Dionysian and the measured Apollonian. This makes sense to me as an underlying score, as I puzzle over all the abstractions that can be brought to bear, in order to create a painted image. As Henri Matisse believed, it takes real effort to look at life and to see things anew and uncluttered.