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Denis Clarke - Force of Nature

BY Stanley Street Gallery | 10-Jun-2015
"My way of working involves 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."Denis Clarke. Clarke is immersed in nature, driven by the artist's belief that marks inspired by all the senses, particularly sight and touch, convey the dynamic "Force of Nature". #StanleyStreetGallery
My way of working involves 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. “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

Clarke is immersed in nature, driven by the artist's belief that marks inspired by all the senses, particularly sight and touch, convey the dynamic "Force of Nature".

"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." Denis Clarke

Profile

After completing a Diploma in Art Education at the National Art School and Alexander Mackie College in Sydney in 1975, Denis Clarke was awarded the NSW Travelling Art Scholarship and Moya Dyring residency at the Cite International des Arts in Paris. As a student he exhibited at Macquarie Galleries and Bondi Pavillion in Sydney. He progressed to postgraduate studies in London at the St Martins School of Art, Byam Shaw and Morley College and set up a studio in north London. From 1975 to 1998, Denis lived and exhibited in London and Switzerland, teaching at the Camden School of Art, London and exhibiting most notably in London at Gillian Jason Gallery, Boundary Gallery and three one-man shows at James Colman Gallery at Montpelier Sandelson, Knightsbridge.

In 1998 Denis returned to live and paint in Sydney, where he exhibited with the Harris Courtin Gallery in Sydney. In 2003 he was awarded the Blackfriars Drawing Acquisitive. He has collaborated with several premier arts organizations such as Opera Factory in London and Switzerland, Warwickshire Arts Festival in the UK, and most recently as the artist in residence at Wollombi Valley Arts Council.

Denis has been a sessional lecturer at the National Art School, Sydney Australia, for ten years, and runs master classes and summer schools at the Mitchell School of Art, Charles Sturt University, Bathurst, the McGregor School, University of Southern Queensland, Cooee Bay Artists Camp, Yapoon, Queensland. He is represented in private and public collections in Europe and Australia, including Macquarie University, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Fitzwilliam College Cambridge and Lloyds of London.