It’s opening coincides with the release of a new monograph of Clarke’s work published by HENI Publishing. Introduced by an exclusive interview between renowned American critic Robert Storr and Clarke, Night Orchids is an elegant monograph of 267 of these works— varying from delicate white line drawings on black card to vivid bursts of watercolour— and each contributing to an apparently endless sequence of questions about the nature of beauty and the void in which it flourishes.
In his new body of work, Clarke focuses on the imagery of night orchids, which he began in December 2013 during a trip to Thailand and later in France, and it consumed his nocturnal practice for nearly two years.
“Night Orchids, like most of my drawings, are imaginings of coloured architectural experiences.” — Brian Clarke in conversation with Robert Storr.
In keeping with the artist’s interest in a single motif such as spitfires or fleur de lys, his work with night orchids is driven by an innate curiosity. Most of the works in the exhibition were completed by Clarke in his West London studio at night—principally between 7 p.m. and midnight—and reveal the artist’s exploration of nature and beauty, particularly how the night orchid flourishes within a void of light. The paintings and works on paper adopt a variety of approaches to night orchids, yet all are united in their richly coloured and detailed impressions of the flower.
“After nearly four decades of intense production in painting, sculpture, and stained glass, Clarke is not an easy artist to absorb, let alone to classify. If there were an artist capable of synthesizing space, time, and light, ranging from his intimate “drawings in the air” on black sugar paper to his rigorous in-depth architectonic achievements, he could be none other than Brian Clarke.” — Robert C. Morgan, Between Extremities catalogue, Pace Gallery NY, 2013.
In a series of drawings on black card, Clarke uses only white lines, creating an intricate outline of the flower that is subsumed in the darkness of the surface. This is Brian Clarke’s second exhibition at Pace London.