BEN CLARKE – BIOGRAPHY
Ben Westley Clarke was born in Ipswich, Suffolk and studied at Byam Shaw School of Art, The Slade School of Fine Art and the New York Studio School, before studying at the Royal Drawing School.
At the Slade, he was immersed in issues surrounding “Folk Art” – amateurishness versus professionalism, sincerity versus irony, the honesty of Romanesque and Medieval Art; the directness of punk culture.
Shortly after leaving, Ben embarked on a project to document “The Cock Tavern”, a working-class, Irish pub in Somers Town. With its regular characters and unpredictable goings-on, the venue was the favoured pub of the late union leader Bob Crow. Ben sought to record the pub whilst the local area was being threatened with redevelopment. For the series of paintings, which drew on the non-objective traditions of Expressionism and Neue Sachlichkeit, the pub became a stage on which characters played out their tragicomic roles.
More recently, Ben has worked towards livelier, more cacophonic images – his interest in social communion and interaction has led him to explore the carnivalesque and the festive. Drawing at Carnivals, Barn Dances and Gay Pride parades, Ben seeks a Rabelaisian image of modern life.
“The Cock Tavern Paintings Part 2” at Chalton Gallery, 20-28th May 2017 curated by Javier Calderon
“The Cock Tavern Paintings Part 1” at Ladette Space, 6th – 15th March 2015, curated by Elena Colman
“Ben Clarke” at William Gibbons Fine Art, Yorkshire, 6th-7th July 2013. Curated by Rob Small.
Selected Group Exhibitions
“Frivolous Convulsions” at Turf Projects, January 2018, curated by Ben Westley Clarke and Vanessa Mitter
“Grit: 11 Painters” at Mercer Chance Gallery, May 2016, curated by Ben Westley Clarke
“Dark Ages” at Geddes Gallery, January 2016, curated by Rae Hicks and Sam Hanner
“The Behaviour of Being” at Cob Gallery, London, 29th September – 4th October 2015, curated by Mia Pfeifer
“Ben Westley Clarke + Ben Edge: Contemporary Folklore” at Leyden Gallery, 9th – 25th May 2015, curated by Lindsay Moran and Adriana Cerne.
“Salad” at L’Escargot, 21st January – 21st February 2015. Curated by Andrew Stahl.
“New Cross Pavillion 2” at Harts Lane Studios, 13th – 15th February 2015. Curated by Benjamin Prosser.
Slade Degree Show Exhibition at the Slade School of Fine Art, London, May 2014.