Pete Clarke
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Collaboration: Pete Clarke and Georg Gartz

Curriculum Vitae Publications Studio Collaboration Gallery



While collaboration has become commonplace among installation artists, it is almost unheard of for painters. The western tradition of painting has been for too long bound up with the idea of the lone individual's unique markmaking for painters to risk their efforts being dissipated.

Now Liverpool based painter Pete Clarke and Cologne-based painter Georg Gartz have engaged on a series of collaborative works. Clarke's work is an inventive jumble of urban elements, so the artistic input of another urbanite appears a fitting extension. Working on the canvases separately, then swapping them, they have constructed multi perspective semi-abstract works and cast doubt on presumptions of authentic authorship
(Review from the Guardian).

Curriculum Vitae Publications Studio Collaboration Gallery


Pete Clarke / Georg Gartz: Collaboration

In many ways the painting collaboration between Pete Clarke and Georg Gartz reflects the context from which their project sprang. Two artists from two cities, Liverpool and Cologne, who met during the planning of an event, Eight Days a Week'. This celebration of Merseyside art and culture, staged in Liverpool's German partner city in 1998, was the most expansive manifestation to date of a twinning relationship stretching back to 1952.

Yellow drag over blue construction
(Acrylic on Canvas,36 x 36 inchs,Dec 1998)


Over the past half century, both cities have witnessed processes of profound transformation: Colognes postwar reconstruction, prosperity and development as an important regional centre, Liverpool's pop music explosion, its economic de¬cline and current regeneration. Both are also characterised by the shaping of particularly distinct cultural identities. And just as the way in which such chan¬ges have happened has differed greatly in each place, the two artists on the surface at least could not be more of a contrast: Clarke, the gritty urbanist playing with the politics of representation Gartz, the lyrical abstractionist whose approach to colour and form finds expression equally through installations as conventional painting. Yet, like the rivers that historically have provided the life¬blood of both Cologne and Liverpool, the two artists found in the practice of painting a common thread, a discipline that has brought them together.

It was the topographies of their respective cities that provided the starting point for this remarkably fruitful collaboration. Since December 1998 they have made time to visit each others studio, working together on the same canvases, an intensive process that starts with an obvious reference a recognisable symbol, the shape of the cities' cathedrals, the river perhaps then develops as the artists respond to each other's painted marks. Through this dialogic process a body of painting has emerged which offers us, not a series of composite impres¬sions of the urban landscape, but a kind of visual meditation on the city, an amalgam of different perspectives. The paintings raise questions about how we picture the world, challenging the notion of a single fixed authorial point of view.

They also interrogate the practice of painting itself through the methodology of the collaborative approach the process of applying paint to canvas becoming a discursive act. The closest parallel to this creative collaboration is perhaps to be found in jazz: accomplished musicians in their own right coming together in a spirit of openness, willing to give and take, feeding off each other through improvisatory expression. And like the best jazz ensembles, the artists here anchor their enter¬prise in a structure, a springboard from which to explore new territory.

Whilst in visual art this is not a particularly new innovation one thinks of Warhols celebrated collaboration with Basquiat for example the partnership between Clarke and Gartz is not some exotic pairing. Instead, at the heart of their interaction is a genuine desire to challenge their own and the audiences preconceptions about the creative process, formally, conceptually and culturally. It is an approach that provides a challenge as well as a model for artists from Cologne and Liverpool in the continuing dialogue and exchange between the two cities.

Bryan Biggs, Bluecoat Gallery, Liverpool

Red Triangle and River Wash,
(Acrylic on Canvas,36 x 36 inchs,Dec1998)

Turner’s Travels
Clarke and Gartz embarked on the Project ‘Turner’s Travels’ [J.M.W. Turner 1775 – 1851] given the significance of the artist to German and British Art. The ‘Collaboration’ project followed Turner’s travels along the Rivers Rhine and Mosel in 2007. The research compared and contrasted significant works by revisiting iconic places depicted in Turner’s paintings and sketchbooks producing new transcriptions and re-invented images. The historic work of Turner was used as metaphor for concepts of national influence and cultural production within contemporary art.


Clarke and Gartz were invited to have the ‘Retrospective of Ten Years of Collaboration’ featuring the paintings ‘Rheinwärts’ and the drawings ‘Rheinlust’ at Museum Zündorfer Wehrturm, Köln in 2008. ‘Rheinlust’ was initially exhibited as a major part of the ‘Die Lange Nacht der Museen’ 2007 [the long night of the museums] when Köln had a celebratory evening for the visual arts organised by the City of Köln and sponsored by the Stadt Review. The ‘Rheinwärts’ exhibition included the illustrated catalogue ‘the Collaborative Painting Project by Clarke & Gartz’ with contextual essay written by Art Historian Anke von Heyl.
‘Turner’s travels’ has now continued with more drawings exploring North Yorkshire [2008] with a Residency in 2008 at the Bluecoat, part of ‘Eight Days a Week’ and Liverpool European City of Culture, Venice [2009] and the Isle of Wight [2011]. Clarke and Gartz recently exhibited the series of drawings and a new reinvented installation of the Rhine at the ‘Lorelei’ for the exhibition ‘Ist es am Rhein so schön?’ Kunstverein, Köln 2011.

In 2013 Clarke and Gartz exhibited paintings and drawings as a companion to ‘Travels with Turner’ the travelling exhibition of Turner’s engravings ‘Liber Studiorum’, Kirkby Gallery, Merseyside. Later in 2013 they continued this Turner project with more drawings of the Rhine – images of the Lorelei and the iconic Ehrenbreitstein fortress near Coblenz. This project has now led to their appointment as ‘artists in residence’ in 2015 at the Rhineland spa town of Ebernburg, located at the tributary of the river Nahe, an area of mountains, vineyards and craggy massifs where Turner made significant work in 1844.