Vespers

'Delayed for over a year by Covid restrictions, this exhibition’s unprecedented scale now allows Brian Clarke's monumental new cycle of paintings, Vespers, begun in 2019 and continued again through lockdown, to be seen in its full narrative arc. Over 500 works in watercolour form the centrepiece of the exhibition, in which Clarke uses the form of the poppy as the starting point for a strikingly inventive investigation into abstraction and the liquid nature of colour. Gathered together, writes Robert Storr, they make “an explosive bouquet of natural beauty at its most ephemeral, given that all truly natural things are inherently ephemeral and that beauty assumes its greatest pitch and poignancy when it has been wounded”, employing Clarke’s unmatched experience working with light to evoke the ‘huge walls of flickering colour’, the ‘harnessed euphoria’ he explores through his practice in stained glass, tapestry and ceramic.' – Phillips

I never expected, really, to be a flower painter, but over the last few years I’ve increasingly taken pleasure in looking at the way flowers behave. These new works are very much about the nature of paint. On the surface of it, they’re paintings of poppies, but they’re a bit more urgent than poppies are generally. Aggressive, some of them – I wouldn’t want to spend the night with some, but others I’ve fallen in love with. When I’m making these works, new worlds, constellations, start occurring between them. They are me putting down the best of myself to share and they feel, when I make them, choreographing some story across the sheet, like little prayers – as near as, you know, a post-Darwinian Realist can get to saying a prayer." – Brian, 2021.

Forthcoming exhibition of the series of watercolours and mixed media works on paper 'Vespers' at the European headquarters of Phillips in London, in collaboration with HENI. Opening to the public on August 5 2021, the paintings will be displayed over two floors of 30 Berkeley Square. The exhibition catalogue, introduced by art critic Robert Storr, former senior curator of Painting and Sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art, is published by HENI.

As part of the collaboration between Phillips and HENI, the entire Vespers series will be made available in a limited duration sale on the HENI Leviathan website. This drop, which follows on from HENI's release of Damien Hirst's NFT 'The Currency', will go live on the morning of Wednesday, September 1 throughout the last week of the exhibition, ending on Friday, September 10.