Past present future

Rising artist Joe Clarke’s work reignites Brutalist architecture
By Tempe Nakiska | 26 May 2017

Joe Clarke, 2017.

London-based artist Joe Clarke uses his work to play with ideas of futurism, balancing digitally inspired aesthetics with fine art and graffiti. Delving deeper into the conceptual potential of his mediums, his new exhibition, ‘Brutalism’ explores the architectural wave that swept London through the 50s, 60s and early 70s, through a series of works with practical applications.

With the exhibition, Clarke has created paintings, homewares, and other elements of interior design, interpreting the movement through his own lens. Presented by a young artist often preoccupied with more futuristic artistic elements, the result is creative dialogue that fuses past and present – an engaging reflecting on Britain’s working class urban environment.


Tempe Nakiska: Can you take us through the ideas surrounding this exhibition? What were the main things you had been thinking about as you created the work?
Joe Clarke: The presentation references the Brutalist movement in architecture throughout the 50s, 60s and early 70s. Essentially the idea came from an appreciation of the forms and concepts.  With the principles behind Brutalism in mind I wanted to create functional product, and present the work with elements of interior design. Whilst interpreting the past, the work is also reflective of the present. Utilising certain aesthetics you encounter today around London.

Tempe: What exactly is on show – how would you describe the work?
Joe: The show exhibits a series of homeware products, chrome welded lighting – presented within an installation and also a triptych of paintings. I would describe the show as reflective of my taste and interests at this moment in time, it demonstrates a range of areas I want to explore further. It’s also just a starting point for more work.

Tempe: The exhibition is themed around notions of class and social infrastructure. How do the works in the show represent and blur these?
Joe: By taking materials, objects, colours and textures typically associated with deprived areas and manipulating them to propose alternative ideas. For instance replacing a canvas with a slab of concrete, lining the gallery walls with tarpaulin, installing heras fencing around the space. The aim was to create an engaging experience for the viewer in contrast to the typical art show you might see.

Tempe: There are lots of different tensions present in your works: You often work with juxtaposed materials, but have said you are drawn to industrial aesthetics where there is consistency between elements. What main tensions are present in Brutalism?
Joe: The subjects really determine the materials we work with and there is a more refined approach to making this project. The work consists of materials like concrete, metal, glass and plastics.


Tempe: What would you hope people take away from the show with them?
Joe: An understanding and appreciation of the art form. I’m also super excited for people to see the new direction the works taken. The project adopts a multi disciplinary approach, featuring a variety of pieces I don’t think people expected from me.

‘Brutalism’ by Joe Clarke runs until 31st May at Arch 435 & 436 Spurstowe Rd, London E8

For more on Joe Clarke head to his Instagram


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