Don't talk to Keith Clark about subtlety these days. There's nothing subtle about three years of losing good jobs and working at near minimum wage just to get by. Nothing subtle about having to short-sell your house and dealing with banks. No subtlety to turning 50 along the way.
"My art was my therapy," Clark says of these dark times, when his art took a darker turn as well, becoming angrier but also more introspective. The dozen paintings in "F**k Wall Street" chronicle his struggle, and they bristle with urgency. Some of them are the most expressive work the Wilton Manors-based artist has done since he moved to South Florida in 2004 to take up painting.
A third of them feature heads from which a strangulated scream struggles to escape. "I like the primal nature of a scream," says Clark, who acknowledges the great screaming heads of Francis Bacon as a major influence. The title piece focuses on a woman whose head is thrown back as if belting out a song, but look closer and you'll notice the taut neck muscles, the slight grimace. Another work called The Fury captures a pair of heads so united in their shriek that they might be appended to the same body.
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Clark shares affinities with Bacon's raw yet refined style as well. The deliberately worked-over surfaces bear marks and scratches here and there that appear to have been introduced to keep the images from seeming too polished, too pretty. The best painting here, however, is an untitled male torso that came near the end of this cycle of work. Its surprising sensuousness suggests someone who has survived trial by fire and emerged at the end of the ordeal, renewed and reinvigorated.