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About The Artist

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Artist Biography

John Clarke was born in Harare, Zimbabwe in 1946. He spent part of his childhood in Barberton and was educated in Johannesburg and Pretoria - University of the Witwatersrand, BA (Fine Arts) 1968; University of Pretoria, MA (Fine Arts) 1981. He lectured at the University of Pretoria and the University of South Africa, and is now working independently as an artist and teacher based at his studio/gallery in Pretoria. Clarke has been exhibiting work on paper since 1973 using pencil, pen, pastel, and intaglio and digital printing processes. His enduring interest has been in the landscape, supported by his strong interest in the history and pre-history of man in southern Africa.

John Clarke has participated in major group exhibitions of work by South African artists in France, Chile, the USA, Germany and South Africa and is represented in most of the major public collections in South Africa. Since 1975 he has held ten solo exhibitions in Pretoria, Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban and London including a retrospective exhibition at the Pretoria Art Museum in 1992 entitled "The Stones Revisited".

At the University of the Witwatersrand in the 1960's Clarke studied under Guiseppe Cataneo, Robert Hodgins and Cecily Sash. In the 1970's workshop sessions with the Rorke's Drift artists Eric Mbata and Hugh Nolutshungu strongly influenced his approach to intaglio printmaking. He was particularly inspired, in the early 1980's, by the painted stone garden created by the self-taught "Outsider" artist Nukain Mabuza in Mpumalanga. The landscape paintings of the American artists Edward Hopper and Georgia O' Keefe were also formative influences, as were the still life paintings and etchings of Giorgio Morandi.

Clarke's earlier work consists mainly of black and white intaglio prints and drawings. In more recent years he has focused on pastel as his primary medium of expression, using it for its tonal and mark-making possibilities. He has also begun using an inkjet printer and particular software tools to create computer-generated images.

In his work Clarke attempts to convey particular qualities he has found in the landscape; juxtaposing images of man-made structures with organic forms, the imagined with the observed. He has evolved travel rituals which allow him to access visual material and to observe the ongoing metamorphosis of the southern African landscape. These have become repeated experiences, such as crossing borders, following trails and routes and identifying landmarks and 'manmarks'. The drive-in theatre, mining activity, and the domestic structures and artifacts of past and present inhabitants of the land, as well as the vastness of the Kalahari desert have been formative influences.

Artist CV

Born in Zimbabwe, 1946


BA (Fine Arts) University of the Witwatersrand

MA (Fine Arts) University of Pretoria

TTHD Johannesburg College of Education

Selected Solo Exhibitions:

  • 1975 South African Association of Arts, Pretoria
  • 1981 Department of Fine Arts, University of Pretoria
  • 1982 Ernst de Jong Studio Gallery, Pretoria
  • 1983 Gowlett Gallery, Cape Town
  • 1984 University of Natal, Jock Leyden Gallery, Durban; Jack Heath, Gallery, Pietermaritzburg
  • 1985 Gallery 21, Johannesburg
  • 1989 Gallery International, Cape Town
  • 1990 Stegman Gallery, UOFS, Bloemfontein; William Humphries Gallery, Kimberley
  • 1992 Pretoria Art Museum, `The Stones Revisited', a retrospective exhibition
  • 1996 Camberwell College of Arts, London
  • 1999 Old Arts Gallery, University of Pretoria ,‘Inside Outside’
  • 2008 Common Ground, Tina Skukan Gallery, Pretoria, with Jessica Clarke
  • 2011 Up Close, Tina Skukan Gallery, Pretoria, with Jessica Clarke, October - November 2011
  • 2013 To Gather, Association of Arts Pretoria, August - September 2013
  • 2015 The Space Between, Association of Arts Pretoria - September - October 2015

Selected Group Exhibitions:

  • 1982 Cape Town Triennial (Award winner)
  • 1982 Kunst Aus Südafrika, Bonn, Germany
  • 1985 BMW `Tributaries' Exhibition, Johannesburg and Germany
  • 1985 Cape Town Triennial
  • 1987 National Drawing Exhibition, Grahamstown
  • 1989 IX International Biennale of Art, Valparaiso, Chile
  • 1990 National Drawing Exhibition, Grahamstown, Johannesburg
  • 1990 Grand Prix International D'Arts Plastiques, France
  • 1991 Cape Town Triennial
  • 1993 Momentum Art Exhibition, Pretoria Art Museum
  • 1993 Naledi: Art from South Africa exhibition, Deutsche Welle, Cologne, Germany
  • 1995 Pretoria at the Africus Biennale, (SA Ass. of Arts) ABSA Gallery, Johannesburg
  • 1995 Panoramas of Passage: Changing Landscapes of South Africa, Grahamstown Festival and Cafritz Galleries, Washington, USA
  • 1995 Exhibition of Drawings: Masters and Protégé, Pretoria Art Museum
  • 1997 Transferring the Charge: Printmaking Practice and Processes in a Transforming South Africa, Grahamstown Festival and Johannesburg Art Gallery
  • 1998 Klein Karoo National Arts Festival: The Landscape - Unity and Diversity, Oudtshoorn
  • 2001 Land, UNISA Art Gallery, Pretoria
  • 2002 A4 Airmail Art: Freemantle Arts Centre, W. Australia
  • 2004 Enviromental Visions, Ass. of Arts, Pretoria
  • 2005 Art from Two Metropoles, Fried Contemporary, Pta.
  • 2007 Karoo Art House
  • 2007 Pelmama Collection Exhibition, Bloemfontein
  • 2008 Visuality/Commentary, University of Pretoria
  • 2010 Land: Diversity and Unity Ass.of Arts, Pretoria and Hyderabad, India
  • Annual exhibitions, Strydom Gallery, George
  • Annual Art Alive Exhibitions, WPPS, Pretoria


  • South African National Gallery, Cape Town
  • Pretoria Art Museum
  • Durban Art Gallery
  • Johannesburg Art Gallery
  • William Humphries Gallery, Kimberley
  • Oliewenhuis Collection, Bloemfontein
  • Pelmama Collection, Oliewenhuis Museum
  • Tatham Art Gallery, Pietermaritzburg
  • Anne Bryant Art Gallery, East London
  • Technikon Collections: Pretoria and Bloemfontein
  • University Collections: Pretoria, Witwatersrand
  • Orange Free State, RAU, South Africa, Stellenbosch
  • Potchefstroom, Western Cape
  • CSIR Collection, Pretoria
  • MTN Collection, Johannesburg
  • Telkom, Johannesburg
  • Human Sciences Research Council Collection, Pta.
  • Department of Foreign Affairs, Bonn, Germany
  • Mpumalanga Provincial Collection, Nelspruit
  • BMW Collection, Germany
  • Sasol Collection, Johannesburg
  • Rembrandt van Rijn Art Foundation, Stellenbosch
  • Rand Merchant Bank, Johannesburg
  • Klerksdorp Municipal Art Collection
  • Benoni Municipal Collection
  • Federated Insurance Group, Johannesburg
  • Wooltru Group Collection, Cape Town
  • ABSA Collection, Johannesburg

Books by JFC Clarke published by the Leopardstone Press

  • The Painted Garden of Nukain Mabuza, 2013 ISBN 978-0-620-56864-7
  • The Home Art of Nukain Mabusa, 2001 ISBN 0-620-28171-5
  • A Glimpse into Marabastad, 2008 ISBN 978-0-20-40658-1
  • Inside Out, 2010 ISBN 978-0-620-45038-6


  • SA Arts Calendar Vol 7, 1982
  • Bulletin Pretoria Art Museum, April 1983
  • Art and Artists of South Africa by Esme Berman, published by AA Balkema, 1983
  • Habitat No.56, 1983
  • Looking at South African Art: A guide to the study and appreciation of art by Frieda Harmson, published by J L van Schaik, 1985.
  • Dictionary of South African Artists by G. Ogilvie published by Everard Read, 1988
  • SA Arts Calendar Vol 15, 1990
  • Art in Outline by Merle Huntley, published by Oxford University Press, 1992
  • Image and Text Department of Fine Arts, University of Pretoria, 1992
  • Acta Academica: Earth and world in two place images: an interpretation of John Clarke's Stockade I and II by Estelle Maré, 1995
  • Printmaking in a Transforming South Africa by Phillipa Hobbs and Elizabeth Rankin, published by David Phillip, Johannesburg and Cape Town, 1997
  • Visuality/Commentary: Catalogue of the Centenary art exhibition of the Department of Visual Arts, University of Pretoria, 2008
  • Look Away Magazine John Clarke, Space Traveller by Frederick Clarke; Issue 11, Quarter 2, 2009
  • Various newspaper articles

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