David Clarke : Spare Parts: Gallery S O London
GALLERY S O London is showing the latest collection of objects by artist David Clarke. Clarke is hard to categorise within the canon of metalworkers: a maverick, humorist, and risk-taker, who delights in shifting his approaches and priorities to shake up every assumption about the nature and value of objects.
There has long been something corporeal and surgical about Clarke's work, but now, in this latest solo exhibition, the metaphor is more developed: the vessel as body, silver as the skin, with arterial tubes and thrusting limbs. This combines with a more industrial, architectural vocabulary: ducts; chambers and apertures; the arteries of a building. The new works begin with elemental forms; two cylinders are soldered together into an 'elbow,' they are rather uncomfortable, darkly funny, lastingly engaging.
Averse to the niceties of 'finishing', Clarke seldom glosses over the brutal processes of manufacture, leaving the marks of construction and decision-making on view: a seam is nubbly and prominent; a dent is preserved; the surface is wilfully inconsistent.
"I have no wish to consciously 'surface' the metal," he says. "With pieces being tarnished, scratched and marked from the bench, I hope they lose the scary, intimidating aspect many people find themselves confronted with when viewing precious, perfect silver."
He is at heart as interested in people as in objects, and hopes to encourage a longer, deeper engagement with the object by sparking off narratives within the viewer. In developing his ideas and his titles, he borrows quotations and overheard conversations, to make his work both irreverent and touching.
Sara Roberts January 2013