Immortality. That’s why I paint.
It scares the fuck out of me to
think it was all
John Clare is a British multi-media artist from South London, living and working in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Growing up in the harsh reality of South London had a profound effect on both his life and his work. Clare’s work is autobiographical and has been described as intended to be “A celebration of life rather than of death and destruction”.
He cites Damien Hirst and Martha Mousse as inspiring contemporaries and enjoys seeing the fresh work at graduate shows in Christchurch.
Clare’s formal education began at Goldsmiths University of London. His lifestyle at the time led to a premature burnout before he could complete his education. Several decades later, John Clare has established himself in the contemporary art landscape and has been referred to as “ the modern-day Bacon”. To this he responds: “You can’t beat an education on the streets of South London for a lifetime full of art work and ideas.”.
Clare’s work confronts the viewer and invites them to engage in the discomfort of common human fears and emotions – death, depression, murder, addiction, love, immigration and youth. He is not interested in painting the perfect picture.
The use of taboo and ugly subject matter combined with this underlying intent, forces the viewer to deal with the artist’s (and our own) internal mental landscape. There’s an underlying message of change and a call to ownership of your own life.
His painting style can be described as erratic, violent, honest, energetic, abstract and contemporary with an instantly recognisable style he has developed over many years.
“This is my line of speed, my gram of coke, my tab of ecstasy now.” says the artist gesturing around his studio which sits in his garden in the green suburb of Christchurch, where his two kids have their own easels in a home which he also shares with his wife and three dogs.
The central concepts which fascinate him and keep him exploring are those of immortality, passing time, and emotional struggle. His work is partially a process of therapy and reconciliation of life’s choices. “It keeps me sane… ish.”
There’s an underlying message of change and a sense of agency over one’s faith which Clare sums up in the following two lines: “If you don’t like how you live then turn it around” and “Live your life not perfectly but fully.” The central concepts which fascinate him and keep him exploring are those of immortality, time passing,
Clare attended Lewisham Southwark College in London and has been accepted to Goldsmiths University of London. In his own words, he declined the placement due to self-doubt of a young artist. Several decades later, John Clare has established himself in the contemporary art landscape and has been referred to as “modern-day Bacon”. To this he responds: “You can’t beat an education on the streets of south London for a lifetime full of art work and ideas.”. He cites Damien Hirst, Francis Bacon, Michael Craig-Martin, Darren Macpherson, Sam Shendi, Van Gogh and Goya as his art heroes.