Brian Clarke (born 2 July 1953) is a British architectural artist, painter and printmaker, known for his large-scale stained glass and mosaic projects, polemical writing and lectures, and collaborations with major figures in contemporary architecture.
Architectural Stained Glass
- Painting is a way for me to view the world as it exists and the world as it might be. When I work, when I am painting, I have no doubt in my mind that that is what I should be doing. Without painting it would be very difficult for me to design stained glass. It would be difficult for me to have any sense of scale or sense of development of narrative. And you know, when I am designing a stained glass window I am painting; when I am drawing a drawing, I am painting; when I am making the cartoon for a tapestry, I am painting; and when I am listening to music I am painting. Most of the time I am painting, so it really is the centre of everything that I do. It’s not that painting is the medium with which I identify the most. Painting is the medium through which I am able to identify with anything external. Without it I am incapable of identification. It is through painting that I understand how to view architecture, appreciate the rhythm of a poem, draw pleasure from the structure of a well-composed sentence. And it is through painting that the complexity of music makes itself understood to me. It is through painting, in fact, that I am.
- Clarke in 1987, in conversation with Paul Beldock, from the Hessisches Landesmuseum publication Brian Clarke: Malerei und Farbfenster 1977–1988.
- Moving with frequency between the polarities of my experience is a fertile source of ideas. Somewhere between anguish and joy lies a region taut with further contradictions. If art speaks truth to power then in my view both compelling forces need to be addressed. The desolate truth carried in profundity is made even more striking when matched by the sublime energy of the decorative.”
- Clarke in 2010, from the Vitromusée Romont publication Brian Clarke: Life and Death.
- Flowers, particularly blossom and clustered flowers, are of great interest to me. Fallen petals on the grass or scattered flowers across a field, do unexpected things when you examine them – Primroses seem to cluster together in a shape that recalls a single flower; Bluebells become entirely anonymous in a hovering mist; Daffodils group together into crowns of thorns and barbed wire; and so on. Space is re-defined and becomes expressively versatile when it's punctuated by apparently random moments of colour. Seeing them clustered in the abstract, changing their identity, thrills me. The mind can only hold on to the epiphany of this loss of form for a moment but it leaves a considerable impression. I don't think I'm trying to capture that moment; I'm more trying to work it out. It's puzzling and hints at something as interesting as harnessing negative space to cause one to forget what is form and what is not. That meshing together suggests a certain connectedness between things, the parts of the sum coming together and bringing, by their union, a third element into play, an element more difficult to pin down.” –
- Clarke in 2016, in conversation with art critic Robert Storr, from the HENI publication Night Orchids.