- Daniel Clarke
“It is possible through a proper understanding and control of natural objects or symbols to invoke the eternal world.” – Thomas Parkinson
As an artist with a background in animation and concept design, Daniel Clarke is a creator of worlds. After an extended break from fine art to focus on the commercial art industry, Clarke picked up his brush to paint again in 2014. ‘In the Bitter Glass’ is a body of work being shown in September as one of the first exhibitions at 99 Loop.
The title of the exhibition is taken from WB Yeats's poem 'The Two Trees', the text of which is below.
In the world of Clarke’s paintings, tight branches, heavy blooms and fleshy leaves surround dream-like figures who seem to hover at the threshold of being human. Despite their uncanny appearance, there is a sense of recognition when we take a moment to observe them, absorbed in their quiet struggles. This recognition stems from the archetypal nature of Clarke’s imagery, his layering of subtly familiar symbols, patterns & postures.
While their thoughts seem far away, their eyes focused elsewhere, there is nothing ethereal about these men and women. Clarke has given them great physical presence, whether captured on two-metre canvases or painted the size of a book. The simple backgrounds in gold-leaf or dark layers focus our attention on them in their silent isolation. Thick and globular strands of unidentifiable natural substances, described by Clarke as ‘proto-nature’, seem to alternately threaten or support them, or even exude from them. It is up to the viewer to decide which, perhaps as a reflection of our own mind states.
Clarke’s surreal works are not an escape from the banal – rather, they function as our dreams might, to help our minds to understand and process everyday reality. A woman asleep is almost buried under reptilian branches. Two miners, with their faces hidden, are both a reference to the disturbing politics of South Africa and the work that must be done to understand our deeper selves. These painted images percolate through our unconscious and resonate with us, leaving imprints in our minds that are hard to shake.
Contact the gallery for a full portfolio.
Catalogues will be available for sale.
THE TWO TREES
William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)
BELOVED, gaze in thine own heart,
The holy tree is growing there;
From joy the holy branches start,
And all the trembling flowers they bear.
The changing colours of its fruit
Have dowered the stars with merry light;
The surety of its hidden root
Has planted quiet in the night;
The shaking of its leafy head
Has given the waves their melody,
And made my lips and music wed,
Murmuring a wizard song for thee.
There the Loves a circle go,
The flaming circle of our days,
Gyring, spiring to and fro
In those great ignorant leafy ways;
Remembering all that shaken hair
And how the wingèd sandals dart,
Thine eyes grow full of tender care:
Beloved, gaze in thine own heart.
Gaze no more in the bitter glass
The demons, with their subtle guile,
Lift up before us when they pass,
Or only gaze a little while;
For there a fatal image grows
That the stormy night receives,
Roots half hidden under snows,
Broken boughs and blackened leaves.
For all things turn to barrenness
In the dim glass the demons hold,
The glass of outer weariness,
Made when God slept in times of old.
There, through the broken branches, go
The ravens of unresting thought;
Flying, crying, to and fro,
Cruel claw and hungry throat,
Or else they stand and sniff the wind,
And shake their ragged wings; alas!
Thy tender eyes grow all unkind:
Gaze no more in the bitter glass.