acrylic on card, 59 x 47cm
signed and dated bottom right ‘Clarke 28.6.1973’
In December 2004 Michael Stevenson hosted Peter Clarke’s first solo exhibition since his retrospective at the Natale Labia Museum in 1992. The exhibition – on the occasion of his 75th birthday – comprised his past decade’s work: a series of 100 ‘fanscapes’ in which he combines paint, collage, poetry and prose. A book on this series accompanied the exhibition and is available from the gallery.
Clarke was a ships’ painter on the docks of Simon’s Town until 1956, prior to painting and writing professionally. He studied at the Michaelis School of Fine Art in 1961 and at the Rijksakademie, Amsterdam, in 1962–63. His work was included on the Venice Biennale in 1964, and in 1968 and 1969 he was represented on the first and second exhibitions of International Graphics at the Palazzo Strozzo, Florence, Italy.
The earlier paintings date from 1969, a few years before Clarke and the other coloured inhabitants of Simon’s Town were forcibly removed to the township of Ocean View, where he has lived ever since. Anxiety is dominated by a red-hot sun, which Clarke today describes as representing ‘hot blazing anger and frustration’. This was the beginning of the Group Areas Act, a time of uncertainty and tension as people were uprooted from their homes and communities. The painting, Clarke says, was intended as a ‘social expression’.