Between Extremities

17th January 2013 to 16th February 2013

Pace Gallery, New York, 508 West 25th Street, USA

"The world’s leading stained-glass artist, Clarke is renowned for his use of line and color, which is evident in his large-scale architectural glass projects, including collaborations with Zaha Hadid, Norman Foster, Renzo Piano, Arata Isozaki, and other leading architects. The inventiveness of Clarke’s techniques is visible at a more intimate scale in a gallery setting, where the exhibition includes work made by layering glass to create optical effects, using a high proportion of lead in compositions, incorporating photographic elements, and collaging patterns and figurative elements within a single work. In glass, Clarke’s line is made of lead, which both divides and intensifies color. In his sculptures, meanwhile, the line becomes the primary element, abstracted into three dimensions and executed in bronze.

The exhibition features a large selection of Clarke’s oil paintings and works on paper from between 2003 to 2012. In Clarke’s works on paper, line serves alternately as a grid-like framing device, which echoes his glass work, and as an expressive and dynamic element within the composition. The paintings are created on matte black paper or painted black canvases that absorb light, allowing for the colors to glow in a way that mimics the vibrancy of light through stained glass. Recurring motifs—heraldry, skulls and other memento mori, crosses, fleur-de-lis—appear across media, signaling Clarke’s influences and his engagement with art history and its references. His newest works also depict iconic contemporary forms, from airplanes and sports cars to light bulbs and paint tubes.

A highlight of the exhibition is Don’t Forget the Lamb (Obverse), a nearly eight-foot-tall rose window installed in the final gallery. The window inverts the typical ratios of glass to lead, with highly-saturated panels of colored glass piercing a predominately opaque field. “His new rose window in lead and glass can be interpreted as a scaled-down re-visioning of the medieval glazing that initially inspired him as a youth: its celestial, rhapsodic imagery, arcadian and celebratory, fixes him in what is doubtless a congenial place, as the quintessential Gothic Modernist,” writes Martin Harrison. “Clarke has appropriated the window’s pattern as a template for drawings, as a basis for linear extemporization, and now for a lead framework into which he has introduced his glass. The window may be read as a rippled sunset flower set in a leafy, dappled surround; white birds fly out from this cluster, their wings mimicking the Gothic lines.”"