Known as the world’s foremost stained-glass artist, Brian Clarke sees his screens, on view in this exhibition, as falling into three distinct groups. The first is botanical, and includes images of, say, jellyfish and their floating tendrils; the second is cosmological, which relates to more abstract nature, embodied by Clarke’s renderings of emotion, such as an agonized face; and the last is biographical. Clarke’s urge to categorize his own work harmonizes with stained glass: constrained by frames, bounded by rules of craft and architecture. “I can’t attack a canvas like Abstract Expressionists,” Clarke told the Sainsbury Centre in 2018. “First, I give myself metrics, a grid of some sort that I can then undermine.” Stained glass, to Clarke, sits at the nexus of order and chaos—his fluid and abundant imagery (unusual in traditional stained glass) is contained by the screen’s thick black borders. —C.J.F.
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