Villa Lobos Center


Brian Clarke's unrealised monumental scheme for the Villa Lobos Center in Saõ Paulo, Brazil, was designed to comprise 21,700 square feet of stained glass and 33,800 square feet of hand-cut Roman mosaic, Venetian glass smalti and ceramic tilework.

In the exhibition catalogue Brian Clarke–Linda McCartney: Collaborations (1997), Stefan Trümpler, director of the Musée Suisse du Vitrail, Romont, writes:

'The centrepiece sets the overall theme of the artworks. It shows a page of a catalogue of the works of the Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos as it was published by his French editor of his musical notations. Amorph forms are flying over it, reminiscent of the bodiless movement of music. Left and right of this Brian Clarke unfolds abstract compositions around forms that are moulded by the composer’s music. The theme of a graphic form that resembles a musical structure finds its central expression in the repeatedly used form of a complicated curve without end or beginning. It is complemented by an ovoid shape like the body of a guitar and another curved form that is open to interpretation as a balloon as well as a plectrum (a little device to pick the strings of a guitar).

The repetition of this curve, moulded after a section of a particular symphony, and the other two forms occur all throughout the designs. Although rooted in the life and music of this great Brazilian composer (not the least famous for his pieces of classical guitar music) Brian Clarke achieves entirely abstract compositions for all four artworks. The theme set by the facade (which would be produced in various mosaic techniques) is unfolded to abundance in the three huge stained glass domes above the main area. Every dome will comprise an area of several hundred square metres, transforming the experience of the spacious main court to a unique encounter with the magnificent power of colour. The graphic forms are filled with life by providing the templates for sparkling colours, rich variations of blue and green in the circular dome, from white to blue, green, orange and red in the rectangular and the triangular one.'