8 February – 1 April 2016, all floors of the ARB
Private View 5 February 2016, 6.00 – 8.00 pm
John Clark makes paintings of models he builds and arranges in space. A limited set of ingredients, from digital scans to low res polygonal constructions, are deployed across planes in the indeterminate space of the computer. They are puppets that are played with in an open ended process in which intention takes its place behind opportunity.
Set against this background activity the paintings emerge and mark a pause, signals that something has been glimpsed and might be noted. That the carefully rendered models are figures lends a complicating narrative dimension to work that might otherwise simply be about the play of light and shade across objects scattered in space. When asked why he paints John says:
It’s not entirely clear to me why I paint or indeed why anyone would. Painting is not a good solution to any problem that is not its own and its product not easily marshalled to another cause. Inefficient, clumsy and problematically personal it’s a perverse indulgence in a world full of purposeful activity bent on overcoming the many social challenges we face. Perhaps it is the perversity as much as the historical and practical complexities of the process that I enjoy.
But if there seems no good reason to paint I am clear enough about what I paint: models of people or fragments of bodies that I have found and sometimes built. They are culled from the half-world of the computer which provides tools for their manipulation in a gravity free environment. I cut them up, arrange, combine and light them. It is a form of play that proceeds with some urgency as if it were a hunt. Meanings percolate gently through the mixing, attaching and detaching themselves as the arrangements shift. I exert little control but take notice and what I notice I paint. I suspect that at the heart of the process is a concern for what it is to be human, allied to a suspicion that the real world is as much a product of desire as it is an object.
In recent work I have looked more and directed less. The paintings have become smaller and simpler. The larger groupings have given way to smaller studies that sit somewhere between still lives and anatomies. Heads float in space, arms lie on planes most commonly set against the black of the computers infinite space.
John studied art at Oxford University’s Ruskin school of Fine Art and Drawing. He has exhibited widely, showing work in New York, Stockholm, London, Helsinki amongst other places, but only rarely in Cambridge. In addition to his exhibitions, he was also featured in a BBC2 Arts Programme ‘Show Me The Monet’, and in the Guardian, which featured an interview ‘From Killzone to Canvas’. Currently he’s undertaking a number of commissions and developing a new series of paintings that builds on a body of work which began to take shape late 2015 some of which are exhibited at the ARB for the first time.