As an artist with a background in animation and concept design, Daniel Clarke is a creator of worlds. After an extended break from fine art to focus on the commercial art industry, Clarke picked up his brush to paint again in 2014.
In the world of Clarke’s paintings, tight branches, heavy blooms and fleshy leaves surround dream-like figures who seem to hover at the threshold of being human. Despite their uncanny appearance, there is a sense of recognition when we take a moment to observe them, absorbed in their quiet struggles. This recognition stems from the archetypal nature of Clarke’s imagery, his layering of subtly familiar symbols, patterns & postures. While their thoughts seem far away, their eyes focused elsewhere, there is nothing ethereal about these men and women. Clarke has given them great physical presence, whether captured on two-metre canvases or painted the size of a book. The simple backgrounds in gold-leaf, dark layers or coated in glossy resin focus our attention on them in their silent isolation. Thick and globular strands of unidentifiable natural substances found in a number of his works, described by Clarke as ‘proto-nature’, seem to alternately threaten or support them, or even exude from them. It is up to the viewer to decide which, perhaps as a reflection of our own mind states.
Clarke’s surreal works are not an escape from the banal – rather, they function as our dreams might, to help our minds to understand and process everyday reality. This current series examines how we mentally form depictions of those we are close to, out of incomplete fragments and impenetrable surfaces. His painted images percolate through our unconscious and resonate with us, leaving imprints in our minds that are hard to shake.
Clarke debuted his first solo exhibition at 99 Loop Gallery in 2015 and is currently working on producing a graphic novel inspired by African mythology and the Kariba Dam.
2016 Echo, group exhibition, 99 Loop, Cape Town
2015 In the Bitter Glass, solo exhibition, 99 Loop, Cape Town
Artist CV courtesy of 99 LOOP GALLERY