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Peter Clarke, one of South Africa’s most treasured and talented artists, passed away on the 13th of April at 84 years of age.

Art South Africa pays tribute to this extraordinary man and artist, by looking at two Features from the Art South Africa archive that focus on Clarke’s work, his infectious humour and imagination, and his quiet dignity.
Peter Clarke at his Ocean View home and studio, January 2007. Photo by Mario Todeschini.
From the Art South Africa archives.
In ‘Dignity and Quiet Fanfare’ (Art South Africa Vol 05: Iss 03, Autumn 2007) Kim Gurney writes about Clarkes’s “steadfast ability to imagine” and how his “gentle humour and ready chuckle are balanced by a contemplative tenor often expressed in text. Besides being an accomplished visual artist in paint and printmaking, Clarke has published poetry and short stories.”
She goes on to comment on his connection with the works he creates, and his dedication to his art: “Creating art is integral to Clarke’s life: he works simultaneously on various projects, never waiting around for the muse.”
‘Looking Back, Looking Forward’ (Vol 09: Iss 04, Winter 2011) by Philippa Hobbs and Elizabeth Rankin, describes Peter Clarke’s compelling 1963 illustrations for a Swiss Christian journal.
Peter Clarke Illustration 3
Cover of Der Wanderer von Land zu Land 5 (1963) with Clarke’s illustration for ‘A Prayer for my Twenty-Fifth Birthday.’
From the Art South Africa archives.
“In as much as the illustration for ‘The Story of an Orphan Boy’ carries us back to Clarke’s past, that for the ‘Masks of Fear’ anticipates his works of the future. Embedded in his oeuvre, the illustrations share his engagement with the anxieties of apartheid but also his hope and unfailing belief in humankind – even in an inhuman world.”
Peter Clarke Illustration 1Peter Clarke Illustration 2
Left: Drawing inscribed “Wearing Masks of Fear”, crayon on paper, 1963. Peter Clarke files.
Right: Drawing inscribed “The Story about an Orphan Boy”, crayon on paper, 1963. Peter Clarke files. From the Art South Africa archives.
Through Clarke’s works we are shown the humble, brilliant and respected artist behind them; a figure that will be greatly missed.

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