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PANGOLIN’S curating is exceptional and the decision to present the work of the sculptor Geoffrey Clarke predominantly through his prints is a gamble that pays off handsomely.
Contextualising Clarke’s work from the 1950s to the 1990s, it’s an inspired selection that demonstrates his formal and thematic concerns over decades.
It takes a little time to grasp fully the unusual combination of floor-based sculpture and the largely monochromatic prints on the walls and recognise the unifying coherence of the visual grammar and vocabulary of the pieces on display.
Clarke’s pictorial language is uniquely eloquent and lucid in its formal simplicity. Unexpectedly, there’s tenderness and even an element of teasing humour in Warrior II, Harlequin, Adoration of Nature, The Shepherd and, particularly, Father Mother and Children.
His prehistoric “cave glyphs,” “radio circuits” of intriguing transmissions or “star maps” and the expansive and painterly strokes elsewhere on display are all related, not just by the ubiquitous use of monochrome but also a preoccupation with the ordinary recognisable to us all.
The sculptures seem like artefacts dragged out of faint memories, their purpose unknown — remnants of a time that time itself forgot, with the pathos and melancholy of Pilgrim evoked by an intricate arrangement of abstract minimalist forms.
Enigmatic grooves or lacerations are cut into the vertical “figure” of the pilgrim. But the enigma will remain unlocked until the elements ultimately erode them away forever.
It’s a work that demonstrates Clarke’s enviable ability to engage. Honest to the core, he’s an artist to trust and there’s a sense of equality with, and respect for, the viewer — nothing more, nothing less.
Free. Runs until April 9, opening times: pangolinlondon.com
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