The gallery presents a solo exhibition by Peter Clarke, the acclaimed South African artist and poet.
Clarke (born 1929) lived in Simon’s Town until the Group Areas Act moved him to Ocean View where he has lived and worked since the late 1960s. He is best known for his paintings and prints of the daily life of Cape communities, yet in the last three decades he has also quietly produced handcrafted concertina books. Just Paper and Glue presents this rarely exhibited aspect of Clarke’s life-long practice. Using paint, pencil and scraps found in his post, these abstract collages are playful and whimsical. While Clarke may emphasise the lightness and playfulness of these objects, they add depth to his artistic oeuvre. Like the Fanfare series, first exhibited in 2003, Clarke’s books find their place in the long modernist tradition of the collage. Clarke also embraces the tradition of the artist’s book, dating back hundreds of years and written about as a distinct artistic genre since the 1970s. Whereas his paintings might invite comparisons to Romare Bearden and Diego Rivera, the books in this exhibition suggest that awareness of Kurt Schwitters and Fluxus are equally significant to a full understanding of Clarke’s life and work.
Peter Clarke has only recently seen wide recognition of his work with a South African retrospective, Listening to Distant Thunder: The Art of Peter Clarke, at the Iziko South African National Gallery in Cape Town and the Standard Bank Gallery in Johannesburg (2011-12), accompanied by a major publication; and Wind Blowing on the Cape Flats at the Institute of International Visual Art (Iniva) in London (2013).
A catalogue will be published to commemorate this exhibition, which will include an interview with the artist conducted by Hans Ulrich Obrist on the occasion of Clarke’s Iniva show.
The public is invited to meet Peter Clarke, and to don white gloves and peruse his books, on Thursdays 12 September (all welcome) and 10 October (Friends of the South African National Gallery only), at 11am. Booking is necessary as numbers are limited.