By Corinne Robins
"Edward Clark: Push-Broom and Canvas", Art International, 1973.
What is the weight, size, feel of a brush stroke? What is there left to build with one? For the last ten years, a brush mark has been an anomaly in American painting. Exclude a few hard edge hold-outs and the clean surface and/or spray can has been the rule, and a sort of dreamy stasis has crept into painting. Excitement, speed, the whirring of invisible worlds —a painting as a thing made by a person—a multi-layered act—where did action painting go? And does it suddenly emerge, evolve again, here in the work of Edward Clark? These are the kind of questions looking at Clark's paintings evoked. The stimulus is in the painting, the question in the mind of the viewer, willing there be connections at all cost.
In Edward Clark's oval-shaped paintings I find many connections. The paintings are about speed. Clark's floating ovals—11, 19, 21 feet long, built to encompass his 48-inch push broom stroke—are paintings made out of cross purposes, horizontal paintings divided into three simple-seeming color bands, none of which remains still or “true” to its surface. The paintings are done on the floor with the brush, as a pusher of paint. In the artist's recent work, he uses a track, a wooden margin to guide and control the wide stroke, and the energy of the painting. “I'm interested in the expanding image, and the best way to expand an image is an ellipse”, Clark explained in his studio.
By expanding image, I would guess he means the on-going process of painting. In Clark's paintings, however, this is a complex thing. The large ovals don't exceed their canvas edges, yet the color bands themselves never end within the confines of the form. These bands are in some mysterious orbit around the other “invisible” side of the oval because Clark's oval shape manages to create an illusion it is only one “side” of the painting, that the painting is going on its own space somewhere—not stopping. All of Clark's oval-shaped paintings give this odd sense of completeness, of travelling in their orbit.