Painter Daniel Clarke tends to choose the silent studio work over the fancy occasions on which the art circus likes to celebrate itself. This is discernible in his paintings that remain untouched by recent trends and schools, just as his oeuvre does not show any dramatic twists but reflects a steady development of artistic language.
Revolving around traditional opposites such as flatness/volume, figure/ground, abstraction/figuration, Clarke’s work reveals its full complexity at a second glance. Most of his paintings are dominated by often solitary figures, seemingly abstracted and with a fragile, passive body language. Those clear, technically elaborate protagonists dwelling in the foreground, their faces occasionally blurred beyond recognition, are set against less detailed, roughed-out backgrounds. Here, Clarke wages broader fields of color and a much rawer stroke. Those areas remain sketchy, granting a glimpse of the medium he works with here and there. Occasionally, a few scattered lines hint at sideline shapes, spaces or a spatial structure.
This highly contrastive relation of fairly wrought figures and undisclosed backdrops makes the figures stand out almost like freely floating entities. This stark effect is further amplified by Clarke’s subtle modulation of color, causing a slight dissonance by intentionally breaking the rules of color harmony, and emphasizing the fragile state of mind embodied by these contemplative figures.
As Clarke does not work with self-explaining or narrative subjects, beholders are left behind with a feeling of uncertainty in the face of his indefinite paintings. His approach is decidedly non-narrative, and continuously addresses moments of indecision. Everything that comes with that—vulnerability, solitariness, atmospheric instability, and silence—is brought forth by the human figures depicted. Along with a strong figure/ground-friction and color discordance, Daniel Clarke prolongs moments of indecision to a weighty, almost allegoric formation of the indecisive.