Asiya Clarke - FROM THE SUBLIME TO THE RIDICULOUS
15 February - 10 March 2021 (Window + online exhibition only. The gallery remains closed until further notice)
Luton-based artist Asiya Clarke’s returns to Departure Lounge, with her remarkable collages exploring the concept of the sublime, inspired by her many years as a student of Sufism, a mystical form of Islam. Her work relies heavily on receiving messages from unknown sources, whether signs and suggestions from nature, from her own subconscious or beyond.
The theory of ‘the sublime’ dates from Roman times and was most famously investigated by
18th-century German philosopher Immanuel Kant. It suggests experiences which are so overwhelming and of such magnitude that our frame of reference collapses, propelling us into a transcendent realm beyond normal human experience as we know it. More recently, 20th-century and contemporary philosophers have suggested that it is impossible to represent the sublime – how, after all, can you manifest the unmanifestable?
Instead of attempting to embody the sublime, Clarke uses photographs and magazine pages to make collages about the apparent absurdity of the human condition and the struggle to transcend our physical, intellectual and spiritual limitations, while aiming to reference a sense of wonder.
As she puts it herself, in this remarkable series of new works she is preoccupied by a desire to ‘gaze upon mystery’.
Asiya Clarke (b.1954) grew up on a farm in Zimbabwe and studied her BA in Fine Art at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. She studied Sufism in Jerusalem, before returning to the UK with her husband, where she raised her family and began her full-time art and teaching practice in St Albans. Clarke went on to study an MA in Arts Practice at Goldsmiths (2008) and has exhibited across Hertfordshire, London and South Africa. Clarke lives in Luton, working and teaching from her studio.