Brian Clarke @ Pace

Pace Gallery in Burlington Gardens has turned itself into a garden as it is now the home to dozens upon dozens of beautiful flowers. These plants have manifested onto screens and glass in paint and pencil. What is so alluring about this flora is that they are depicted in the night. They are set against black backdrops and instead of fading into the background they glow in the dark, drawing the viewer in with their bewitching charm.

This exhibition, which has aptly been titled Night Orchids, comprises over 200 works by London based artist Brian Clarke. The flowers are illustrations of fauna that the artist first saw on trips to Thailand and Paris. The resulting artwork at Pace has been exhibited from floor to ceiling in an awe-inspiring display. The orchids are portrayed singularly and not as a bouquet or a bunch in a landscape. This gives the impression that each artwork is an individual portrait. The images seem to glimmer and sparkle in rich liquid hues against their matt black surroundings. There is something almost scientific in the paintings, in one sense the fluidity reminds me a little of jellyfish and in another, the bright colours against the darkness is also reminiscent of an x-ray.

As well as the coloured flowers, Clarke also presents us with a series of darker images. These are in the form of white floral drawings that have been made on top of black card. It is almost as though these works are the negative versions of their colourful counterparts. In another corner of the gallery, lies a brightly coloured glass screen. This screen has been adorned with stained glass orchids and is easily the most impressive piece in the show. Perhaps the fact that only one stained glass piece has been displayed, is what made it seem that bit more special than the two-dimensional work.

Clarke’s show is a must for an unexpectedly original take on the artistic depiction of flowers

Night Orchirds is on display at Pace Gallery until 19 November

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Lizzy Vartanian Collier is a London-based writer with a special interest in contemporary Middle Eastern Art. She has a BA in Art History and an MA in Contemporary Art and Art Theory of Asia and Africa from the School of Oriental and African Studies. She runs the Gallery Girl blog and also writes for After Nyne, Ibraaz and Reorient.

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