Gallery North is hosting Solo Exhibition by Robert Casselton Clark. 3 February - 23 February 2012 (Preview Thursday 2 February)
A Silence That Never Was is three work-in-progress installations from the last three years.
In its first public airing The Catechism of the Goddamned Saints is a multiple-piece mixed-media installation of lyrical evocations. Photographs, watercolours, drawings and poetic fragments portray the sites of visitation, the apparitions, reflections and responses. Icons are distressed, ruined, denied and almost redeemed, implying a catechism from which questions and answers have been erased, leaving only confessions of uncertainty: 'Rock-crystals, pearls, rubies, sapphires (ex-votos)... And next he kissed it, the stiletto point, and the city became, perhaps, pure gold.'
That Faraway Look, an early stage of which was shown at Lanchester Gallery, Coventry in 2009, is a multiple-piece installation of digitally fashioned photo-artworks. The sequencing of what the artist has called 'photographs of almost darkness' builds up a cryptic narrative of nocturnal glimpses. Like a series of film noir stills, the images evoke an atmosphere of dread and yearning. An evocative ambiguity is sustained throughout, suggesting half remembered dreams or half forgotten memories. Lone and possibly lost protagonists appear fleetingly. There are hints of some kind of unidentified catastrophe. Landscapes are flooded with a crepuscular radiance.
The Who of the I is an installation of painted sculptural alter egos. The poet and artist Alan Halsey writes 'Perhaps the phantom friends have scarecrow ancestors who interbred with voodoo dolls but there again you'll find some of their relations on a fishmonger's stall... Some have fearsome nippers and they all brandish their stitches like stigmata. Familiar ghosts or ghostly familiars, there's a terrible beauty in their deformity and the names of some recall presences who have stalked Casselton Clark's work on other occasions - Artaud, Neruda, Genet, Marquez, Lorca.' Whilst a thirty metre long photographic version of a small selection from this series was permanently installed on the exterior wall of Sheffield's Yorkshire Artspace in 2010, this is the sculptural installation's first public staging.
"It is no way a race against time, nor an impossible dream of ever arresting it, so much as the very real possibility of - from time to time - transfixing the rhythm of its passing..."
Robert Casselton Clark
He is, to my mind, one of the most important contemporary British artists. His work has always been ambitiously operatic in its scope, exploring the intermedia of drawing, photography, sculpture, poetry and theatre. I know of no other contemporary British artist who has explored such a vast terrain so successfully to produce work that simultaneously negotiates the tragic and the comic.
One-person exhibitions include;
That Faraway Look, Lanchester Gallery, Coventry UK, 2009.
Under Another Name:
Centro de Arte de S. Joao da Madeira, Portugal, 2008.
Aveiroarte, Galleria Morgados Da Pedricosa, Aveiro, Portugal, 2007.
ImagoLucis Fotogaleria, Porto, Portugal 2006 & 2003.
The Nether Edge Story:
Centro de Arte de S. Joao da Madeira, Portugal, 2002.
Cave Gallery, New York, 2002.
Galerie Bauhaus, Bruges, Belgium, 2001.
Plans For The Real World:
Henry Moore Foundation Studio, Halifax, UK, 2000.
Cornerhouse, Manchester, UK, 1996.
Casselton Clark (under the name Robert Clark) also writes regularly on the arts for various publications, including The Guardian.