Clare Woods: The Dark Matter
Opening: Friday, September 14, 6-9 pm
Dates: September 14 – November 10, 2012
The Buchmann Galerie is pleased to present a new series of paintings by the British artist Clare Woods
(b. 1972) titled The Dark Matter.
This work is the result of a complex creative process that often uses photographs as sketches,
focusing on rural and abandoned parts of land lying somewhere between urbanized cities and deserted
country areas. Clare Woods often uses a flash gun while shooting her night sketches. The overexposure
then helps defamiliarize the reality of the photography. Then comes the drawing step, in which Clare
Woods draws her pen around the image, selecting interesting details and creating thus a black-andwhite
pattern. This leads to the third stage, which has the spontaneity of the painting, open to
accidents or hazardous blobs and streaks.
The aluminum support reinforces the metallic and yet smooth tone of the lucent colors. It is the
contrast between those highly artificial colors and the subject chosen — nature — giving the images
their supernatural and threatening look.
Nature appears unfamiliar in Clare Woods’s works, sometimes even uncanny. This conception has to be
seen from the perspective of the British romantic landscape tradition (by John Constable for instance)
as in the modernist one (by Paul Nash or Jean Fautrier, whose Large Tragic Head, 1942, might have
inspired Woods’s The Unreturning, 2012).
This long tradition questions the relationship between urbanism and countryside and later on—in a
postindustrial society—the bond between human technique and nature. However, unlike in academic
landscapes, there is no horizon line to be seen in Woods’s pictures. They surround and absorb our
perception; they overwhelm the intellect in order to let the affect speak.
When considering the interest of Clare Woods for English modernism (especially poetry and art), we
might consider the importance of the title’s power to evoke: Dark matter is imperceptible matter
hypothesized by physicists to account for much of the mass of the universe. It’s something related to
chaos and darkness and describes quite well Clare Woods’s idea of representation in art: energetic
forces running across the canvas, oscillating between abstraction and figuration.
Taken together, her titles create an ominous semantic web that magnificently echoes T. S. Eliot’s most
famous poem, The Waste Land, as a tribute to the master of modernism: “What are the roots that clutch,
what branches grow / Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man / You cannot say, or guess, for you know
only / A heap of broken images, where the sun beats, / And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket
no relief, / And the dry stone no sound of water.”
Clare Woods recently had solo shows at the Hepworth Wakefield and the Southampton City Art Gallery.
She has created a large-scale work integrated into the façades of a utilities building in the south of
the Olympic Park in London, which will be highly visible in legacy.
Her work is amongst others in the public collection of the Margulies Collection, Miami, the British
Council, London, the National Collection of Wales, the Arken Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen and the
Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo.