China Underground > Events > Cathleen Clarke: Whatever Hour You Woke There Was a Door Shutting

Cathleen Clarke: Whatever Hour You Woke There Was a Door Shutting

Date(s) - 25/09/2021 - 28/11/2021
4:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Fou Gallery

Location Address 410 Jefferson Ave #1, Brooklyn

City New York

Country/State New York


Poster Design: Yizhi Liu

September 25th–November 28th, 2021
Opening: September 25th, 2021, 4–8pm
Location: Fou Gallery, 410 Jefferson Ave #1, Brooklyn, New York, NY 11221
Curator: Lynn Hai
The Opening is free to the public

NEW YORK – Fou Gallery is pleased to announce that artist Cathleen Clarke’s solo exhibition: Whatever Hour You Woke There Was a Door Shutting will take place from September 25th to November 28th in 2021. The exhibition will present Clarke’s 16 oil paintings, mostly created in 2020 and 2021. Clarke seeks for inspiration from old photos and used objects. She is interested in the buried but unfading memories that awaken a common nostalgia of treasuring one’s past. Clarke’s contrast colors and flowing composition in her paintings capture the viewer’s attention with implicitness and mysteriousness. Through dramatically expressed daily scenes, her paintings seem to hide many untold but vivid stories under the moments frozen on her canvas.

All the People From Your Past, 2021. Oil and acrylic on canvas, 36 x 36 inches ©Cathleen Clarke, courtesy of Fou Gallery and The Honey Pump

Clarke is greatly influenced by the literature of the stream of consciousness. She depicts sentimental moments with non-linear narration, and thus creates plenty of flexibility to arouse the viewer’s multitudinous thoughts and to resonate with the concurrence of their sensations. Faces with ambiguous expressions, empty rooms with used and worn-out items, and aimless moments in a lively occasion with many participants, are usually representative images in her paintings.

Summer Nights, Walking, 2021. Oil and acrylic on canvas, 30 x 30 inches ©Cathleen Clarke, courtesy of Fou Gallery and The Honey Pump

All the People From Your Past and The Wedding Party are two representative examples of Clarke’s depiction of crowded occasions and people’s facial expressions in her typical style. In the green toned work All the People From Your Past, the blurred details of people’s faces don’t give any obvious hint of a specific mood, but the intenseness from the colors and the composition implies surging emotions that overflow in the scene, and arouses the viewer’s curiosity to explore more behind the scene. In the red toned work The Wedding Party, the similar painting technique is applied to the image, and makes the atmosphere of this lively moment distant and hazy, as if separated by a layer of woolen glass. The intentionally missing details and the slightly distorted lines resemble the impression in mind when trying to recall a recollection from a long time ago. In another painting, The Place on Shannon Lake, the subject of the image is a corner of a room and a burning candle on a table. The figure in the frame has begun to blur like a vanished memory, while the place of childhood memories in the photograph sandwiched between the edges of the frame is remarkably clear. The contrast between this clarity and blurring in the same image is also an interesting aspect of Clarke’s painting: the outline of memory is never continuous and sharp. It stays in fragments that are sometimes explicit and sometimes obscure. When looking back at the past, our memory is as intriguing as another world.


The Place on Shannon Lake, 2021. Oil and acrylic on canvas, 20 x 24 inches ©Cathleen Clarke, courtesy of Fou Gallery and The Honey Pump

The title of the exhibition “Whatever Hour You Woke There Was a Door Shutting” is a quote from Virginia Woolf‘s short novel A Haunted House. As one of the most important modernist 20th-century authors and a pioneer in the use of stream of consciousness, Virginia Woolf is one of Clarke’s favorite authors. The way Woolf narrates her stories and her expression in the stream of consciousness, is what has inspired Clarke to capture and render those nostalgic moments to imply unknown epic life stories. During the exhibition, the space of Fou Gallery will be set up as an unoccupied apartment with left furniture covered by white cloth, aiming to create an atmosphere of an old space that was once full of lively life but has now been abandoned by its dwellers. Clarke’s paintings will be hung on the crumbling walls or placed on or next to the white cloth, reflecting those haunting memories from the misty past.

The Wedding Party, 2021. Oil and acrylic on canvas, 36 x 36 inches ©Cathleen Clarke, courtesy of Fou Gallery and The Honey Pump

Virginia Woolf wrote in her diary, “I can only note that the past is beautiful because one never realizes an emotion at the time. It expands later, and thus we don’t have complete emotions about the present, only about the past.” As a painter, Clarke attempts to use her visual language to explore how the memory is connected to our emotions and how we interpret, beautify, or even fabricate our memories. Mysterious and nostalgic, Clarke’s paintings always easily evoke the deepest stirring from one’s most treasured past.

There Was a Door Shutting, 2021. Oil and acrylic on canvas, 36 x 48 inches ©Cathleen Clarke, courtesy of Fou Gallery and The Honey Pump

ARTIST – CATHLEEN CLARKE (b. 1988, Chicago, U.S.A.)

Clarke gained her Bachelor of Fine Art in Painting and Drawing at the Academy of Art University, San Francisco in 2014. She now works and lives in Brooklyn, New York. Clarke had her first solo show If You Ever Make it Home in San Francisco in 2014. From 2011 to present, her works have been widely exhibited in San Francisco, Chicago and New York. She was selected to attend the NARS Foundation International Artist Residency in 2019, and took part in the virtual exhibition Speculative Interiors by NARS Foundation in 2020. The exhibition Cathleen Clarke: Whatever Hour You Woke There Was a Door Shutting at Fou Gallery is her first solo show in New York.

Cathleen Clarke in studio ©Cathleen Clarke


*This exhibition is supported by the City Artists Corps Grants program of NYFA


After graduating from the Architectural Association (London), Hai gained her Master’s in Design Studies from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University (Boston). While being active as a curator and art writer in New York, she is a partner and the Art Director at Fou Gallery. Her curation and design includes: Wei Jia: Good Times (Fou Gallery and Chamber Fine Art, New York, 2021); Chen Dongfan: Long Past Dawn, Pirates and Poets Whistle in the Dark (Fou Gallery, New York, 2020); Dwelling At the Present Chinese Contemporary Interior Design Exhibition and Forum (Harvard Club, New York, 2019); Flow Fields – Confluence in Urban Picnic (Matedero, Madrid, 2013) and Flow Fields – Dilution in 2013 Lisbon Triennale (Sinel de Cordes Palace, Lisbon, 2013) et al. Her writings are published on art periodicals including ArtChina, CAFA Artinfo, Tussle Magazine and ArtPulse et al.

Lynn Hai at Fou Gallery, Photograph by Echo He ©Lynn Hai

FOU GALLERY is an apartment gallery and creative lab based in New York. Fou is dedicated to promoting creative talents and projects of our time. As suggested by its name, Fou is both a denial of the mainstream commercial gallery model and an active contributor to a new, organic art community. With the belief that the enjoyment of art is an essential part of everyday life, Fou offers a vibrant, inspirational selection of original works in art and design, and hosts various events to create a diverse and accessible art space.


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