Work

Lamina

Gagosian Gallery, London

2005

Lamina, 2005. Triple laminate float glass and dot matrix, 99 x 12 feet (30 x 3.66 meters).

"Although its iconography is related to the stately Elysian glass wall Clarke has designed for the new grandstand at Royal Ascot, Lamina was conceived specifically as a temporary installation in the Gagosian Gallery, London. Here he extended the implications of the sinuous physical curving of his earlier Glass Wall by penetrating the outer (clear glass) skin of the art gallery and pushing through onto the street, literally as well as metaphorically dismantling walls and boundaries and engaging spectators inside and outside the gallery, under artificial as well as natural illumination. To have eradicated the conventional vertical 'field' of fenestration is arguably his most radical move yet, and one whose development could have significant repercussions for stained glass. The 'abstract' (and, for many critics at the time, provocative) calligraphic interventions onto the surface of the glass in his early designs were envisaged as acting on a single, flat plane; by contrast, Lamina is engineered to tilt out of the perpendicular axis: the spectator is drawn into the space-without-walls, becoming a participant and a kinetic element in the event. When I asked Clarke if he had considered how Lamina might respond to other sites and ambient lighting conditions, he had anticipated the line of thought and produced computer-generated collages which situated the installation in completely different environments - and set up equally compelling dynamics." - Martin Harrison in the essay 'Brian Clarke: Traditions and Discontinuities', from the book Lamina, published by Gagosian London, 2005.

"Clarke’s arcadian imagery, of sunlight streaming through oak leaves, originated in photographs he made with a digital camera. He makes no distinction between the rôles of these machine-made images and the preparatory sketches he continues to draw by hand. Like his earlier gallery installations, Glass Wall (1998) and Transillumination (2002), Lamina was designed to spring from ground level, and to invite the viewer’s interaction with other spectators (themselves sometimes in motion) visible on its ‘reverse’ side. It also demonstrates Clarke’s grasp of scale – not scale as an abstruse theoretical exercise but as defined in the relationship between the human form and the translucent glass membranes.

Clarke’s collaborations with Norman Foster, Cesar Pelli, Future Systems and Arata Isozaki have depended on two main factors – his sensitivity to, and command of, large architectural spaces, and, again, his aptitude as a colourist. The iconography of Lamina stemmed from his designs for the new grandstand at Royal Ascot, a strikingly pastoral morphology which coincided with his renewed interest in the landscapes of Klimt and Monet. In Klimt’s Secessionist-period paintings the contrast between the sensual naturalism of the figures and the flat, richly decorated abstract grounds, anticipated the theoretical positions from which Clarke sought to renegotiate a design strategy for stained glass – a reconciliation of modernity with legibility.

The shimmering vitreous translucency of Lamina, and the elegiac mood of his most recent architectural projects is extended in the vaporous, papery lightness of the white doves in the apex of Foster and Partners’ vast glass pyramid, the Palace of Peace, a building unveiled in Kazakhstan in September 2006." Martin Harrison in the lecture Brian Clarke: Light Transmissions at the Royal College of Art, 2006.