To Bob Carlos Clarke – in memoriam

By Philippe Garner
From Photo London 07 catalogue

April 6th 2006. Fulham Road. It is a truly beautiful spring morning. Family, friends and colleagues gather in the quiet of Brompton Cemetery chapel to say farewell to Bob Carlos Clarke. Perhaps, as one of his friends observes, a sombre, threatening sky would have been more fitting. Bob had written in 1985 that he had recently begun to use cemeteries as backdrops – ‘In the city they form oases of silence and seclusion, and their shadowy monuments are full of form and texture. Graveyards exude a strange combination of peace and tension…. Immortalizing a split second of beautiful, transitory youth holds a special irony in such a place.’ The words are those of an image-maker at once blessed and cursed with the vision and the demons of a poète maudit. The music chosen for the funeral perfectly sets the tone. The Order of Service opens with The Rolling Stones singing ‘You can’t always get what you want’, and, as the black coffin is carried from the chapel, closes with ‘Sympathy for the Devil’.

Bob’s constant obsession was to make photographs, and he did so at full intensity. He succeeded in creating on paper a compellingly vivid universe drawn from the deep, dark well of a perverse imagination. His was an unnerving world of sinister eroticism, of goddesses, warrior queens and avenging angels, a strange territory of carnal icons, of myth and phantasm. Bob’s pictures – lovingly, skilfully and meticulously crafted – were always profoundly imbued with the complexities of his morbid, often melancholic perceptions. They are filled with tension and a mood of anxiety, their frequently aggressive sexual elements coloured with a diabolical sense of mischief and ambivalence. Bob’s pictures have a powerful, often disquieting presence. They have a forceful integrity and effectively reveal the conflicts and the creative single-mindedness that defined his spirit. These photographs will ensure their author’s longevity.



All images on this site are fingerprinted. Copyright and all other rights belong to The Estate of Bob Carlos Clarke. No unauthorised use whatsoever may be made of the images. Please address any enquiries to Ghislain Pascal at Panic Pictures