•                                                                                          CATALÀ
  • MENU

Life is beautiful but it's not perfect
From The Palette Pages

John Clare a South London artist who is now living and breathing his art in New Zealand.  John could not have moved further away from his London roots, a place and a time that was riddled with excess and the hard truth of a life that was sunk into a scene of drugs, murder, suicide, demons and a questioning.  There’s always been a constant in John’s life and that was and still is art.  Creating art to tackle the emotions of death, depression, addiction, love and life.  Artwork that is violent, energetic often ugly but all in a thought-provoking, exciting and distinctive way.

A love of family, a natural worry regarding the fragility of his children’s minds, a world full of beauty a frightening, discoverable place and a need for  eternal life are often themes but not in an obvious way.  The lessons learnt, the fears and the pleasure of living are depicted in what can feel uncomfortable, raw and horrifying. John’s work can be autobiographical in artwork such as ‘Sorry but the lifestyle you ordered is currently out of stock’  which features the pain and horror of South London and a pathway to another life.  There’s a message of change, if you don’t like how you live then turn it around!  Live your life not perfectly but full.  His family is the focus in the artwork ‘Windows & Balloons’ which depicts his anticipation of his children’s path into the world, we feel his worry his need to give his children a better life.

This is art you look at, I mean really look at, delve in and discover the message, the emotion, the story that connects to you.  Grab life by the balls and LIVE.

Self taught or art school?

Mainly self-taught I did study at Southwark college and got a place at goldsmiths but turned it down because I was full of self-doubt at that time, you can’t beat an education on the streets of south London for a lifetime full of art work and ideas.

If you could own one work of art what would it be?

It used to be a Hirst but I own two sketch’s by him now (lucky me) so either a Bacon or an oak tree by Michael Craig Martin, the concept is brilliant.

How would you describe your style?

Erratic, violent, honest, energetic, abstract, fuck I don’t know take your pick, it’s definitely contemporary.  I  will say my style is unique in its own right and is instantly recognised as mine (that probably sounds pretentious) but hey I’m an artist it’s allowed.

Where are your favourite places to view art?

If were talking countries as I live in NZ now  it would be most definitely London, as for places  there’s many Tate, Tate modern, White Cube, South London Camden, Saatchi and any college I love seeing what’s inside students heads.

Who are your favourite artists and why?

Me (lol), I’m out of touch with the UK scene at the moment but three people catch my eye, Sam Shendi ,Darren Macpherson, Martha Mousse, Hirst  and Bacon and many more, I get inspired by everyone. I must confess to having a love of Van Gogh and Goya, I guess I relate to other people’s pain.

What or who inspires your art?

Life what else is there (oh and music) I love it for all its idiosyncrasies and I confront these in my work, it’s a way of exorcising the demons, I get a lot of inspiration from my life in London and everything about it, leaving was like dying and being born again you have to start from scratch, I have no history here so I keep London close in my head and it often comes out in my work, I use the  union jack a lot  and other references about what’s going on in England, some of it is naked others you have to work a bit harder to see, I guess identity inspires me and the range of emotions it comes with, my kids (indigo –raine and London )  also play a big part they are the reason I left.

Where’s your studio and what’s it like?

I’m very lucky I have my studio on my property, it’s great because I get to spend time with the kids as well, they both have their own easels in there, what’s it like (laughs) its looks very very messy but it’s actually very organised for a drunken mad man I sometimes am when I’m in there.

Do you have any studio rituals?

Music I got to have noise, it heightens all my senses and wine.

What are you working on currently?

I’ve been working on a series of works over the last year with a combined title called inside out, they consist of crosses, paintings and light boxes and depict a range of emotions, feelings if you like that me and every one of us go through at some point in our world and wonder.   Some are obvious with instantly recognisable images some are more inward, hence the title, I want us to question everything about our lives, right or wrong, good or bad, I love ,life is beautiful but it’s not perfect.

Where can we buy your art?

Buy it bloody hell you can have it ,I’m always flattered when someone likes my work enough to hang it on their wall, that aside you can buy it online at Saatchi, at debut contemporary, or contact me on Facebook or through my website

What are your ambitions?

Immortality that’s why I paint I need to know it wasn’t all for nothing I  need to be remembered to satisfy the narcissist in me and to have a solo show, and lastly to grace the walls at Palette Pages.

John Clare | A selection of works here

An interview by Lisa Gray
Originally published in The Palette Pages
The Palette Pages website
© 2014 Lisa Gray

NAU NUA | ART MAGAZINE edition by Juan Carlos Romero
Interview and photograph courtesy of Lisa Gray
John Clare website
All rights reserved