Brian Clarke: Works 1977–1985 - as curated by Robert Fraser opened in February 2015 at Pace Gallery, London, in parallel with the exhibition A Strong, Sweet Smell of Incense: A Portrait of Robert Fraser, co-curated by Brian Clarke in celebration of the life and achievements of gallerist Robert Fraser. The exhibition displayed paintings produced during the artist’s twenties, a period when he and Fraser were close friends and collaborators.
In the exhibition catalogue Brian Clarke: Spitfires & Primroses 2012–2014 / Works 1977–85, Martin Harrison writes:
‘I remember it was the 1977 ‘Punk’ paintings that first attracted Fraser’s support of the young artist. Clarke occupied the aesthetic rather than the political wing of Punk, but the exuberant energy and iconoclasm of 'Dangerous Visions I', 'II' and 'III', in particular, resonated strongly with Fraser. Soon afterwards, Clarke reverted to his engagement with an essentially constructivist language, which he sought to rethink and reinvigorate. By the time he painted 'De Profundis', 1982, he was combining geometric motifs with a painterly lyricism, exploring the tension between opposites which has been a leitmotif of his art. After a hiatus during which he spent several years in India, Fraser reopened his gallery at 21 Cork Street in June 1983 with ‘Brian Clarke: Paintings’. It was a kind of homecoming for both dealer and artist, for most of the exhibition had been painted while Clarke was living in Düsseldorf and Rome. Two of the paintings have been retrieved for this occasion, others are now dispersed, or worse, destroyed. Yet they had vindicated Fraser’s faith and demonstrated that the potential of neoplasticism was not exhausted, that its language of forms need not to be consigned to art-historical studies of early modernism. A significant body of work, even if it did not align with contemporary orthodoxies, it thoroughly deserves, like Robert Fraser’s equally unorthodox role as a creative gallerist, this timely celebration.’