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Phil Clarke was born in 1953 in Sydney and studied art at the National Art School from 1975 to 1978. He then lived in Europe for 10 years, most often in Cadaques, northeast Spain, where he met Salvador Dali, whom he visited and observed at work for three years from 1979 to 1982. Clarke first visited Hong Kong in 1985 and had five one-man shows here before returning to Sydney in 1996. He has also had 20 solo exhibitions in Sydney, Cadaques, Amsterdam, Tokyo, Paris, Barcelona, Los Angeles, and Marseilles.

He was an Archibald Finalist in 1980 with a Portrait of Barrister, Clive Evatt. A picture of this painting was featured in The Sydney Morning Herald. The Clive Evatt Portrait was also pictured in The National Times and described by Neil Moore as ‘Ambitious and appropriately hermetic’.

Australian artist Phil Clarke uses Surrealism, Pop Art and Media Images to portray Modern Life. He combines Nature And Technology in a Poetic Vision which explores themes of Environmental Challenge, Coral Bleaching, Endangered Species, Social Justice, Loss Of Habitat, Renewable Energy and Common Sense.

Phil Clarke art
Across the Universe by Phil Clarke


I have renewed my working relationship with Phil Clarke as his Australian art dealer in recent years since his return from overseas. However, it was not since the 1980’s that I have had his last exhibition at CHG in Newcastle. There was more landscape seascape content in those days pre-the Salvador Dali influence consumed him.

Phil always lived by and with a lifestyle; sometimes enviable, sometimes I wondered how he did it or kept up a social schedule and painted.

He is a thinker? Involving his mind and consciousness with world affairs, politics, the environment, appalling corporate and government judgements and applies a moderate amount of common sense to his observations.

From that foundation he develops his art and compositions that send us a message! It is open to the viewer to enjoy the artwork as Phil says however the thought process behind each painting reveals so much more!

The paint surface is rarely textured however it gives the effect of layers beneath, a veneer like effect. Sometimes even a ghostliness quality is evident! The technique is perfect to convey his messages, an illusion a reflection upon an illusion!

Phil has developed an international reputation, not like other contemporary Australian artist living overseas have done! i.e. to filter work back to Australia to keep their profile alive, e.g. Jeffrey Smart, Sidney Nolan and Arthur Boyd.
He firstly developed a friendship with the famous Spanish artist Salvatore Dali and immersed himself into the surrealism movement. No wonder the influence was consuming, living painting and socializing with Dali would have been a privilege. What an experience!

Back to back was another overseas experience where he engaged with the locals, this time in Hong Kong where the exposure to business, commerce and the social networks of Hong Kong gave him the entre to another world, few artists would have had. Hong Kong gave him an acceptance to the Asian market! We believe that will further translate to the Australian Asian’s community, who will recognize the international surrealistic style that appealed to the Hong Kong residents when Clarke was accepted into their society.

Phil now plans to develop his neglected Australian art profile with this back to Sydney exhibition.
He welcomes old friends and acquaintances to re-establish contact and hits the Australian art market as the maverick he has always been.

Mark Widdup
November 2017


The digital exhibition catalogue containing exhibition introduction, artist statement and CHG Director's statement can be viewed here.