Hazard Gallery Frederick Clarke
Following an intense period of work, Frederick Clarke's exhibition is now open at the HAZARD Gallery

HAZARD gallery presents new works by Johannesburg artist, Frederick Clarke. Revealing the complex inner meaning of Let X be, DECO gets to grips with the artist’s exploration of human consciousness – the undefinable ‘X’ – that inspires this new exhibition.

Made during an intense period of work that began in January this year, Frederick Clarke’s latest works reference multiple influences from deeply esoteric mathematical code to organic, everyday experience. In this collection of works, entitled Let X be, Clarke brings together a refined, mathematical order and a thrilling chaos.

The challenge and excitement with each work is to harmonise chaos and order into a form that has a remainder of some kind, like a seed to keep the resonance of the composition alive.

The exhibition seems to explore the meaning of our lives; as we are continually caught up in chaos, often our one true permanence or significance is found in leaving behind a reminder of our existence; a legacy, an impact, an inheritance.

Frederick Clarke at Hazard
The calm setting of Joburg’s HAZARD gallery allows for contemplation of Clarke’s complex concept | Image courtesy of HAZARD Gallery



‘Let X be’ is a common yet poignant mathematical phrase, as it begins an equation that exists for the sole purpose of being solved. In many ways it echoes the biblical ‘Let there be light…’ – like a higher power conceiving a puzzle pattern or equation that will generate fractal branches out of itself through intrinsic ‘un-definability’.

Clarke’s exhibition approaches the phrase from simultaneously philosophical, abstracted, personal and literal angles. Instead of ‘X’ needing finite labelling and solving – perhaps ‘X’ can simply be X; the insoluble and infinite question. After all, it is only humans – the creators of mathematics and all other languages known to us – that have felt the need to define existence at all.

There is no other species on Earth driven by such an insatiable desire to question and know the entirety of existence and the enigmatic totality of ourselves.

Argument of Notes - Frederick Clarke at Hazard
Argument of Notes, from Clarke’s Let X Be | Image courtesy of HAZARD Gallery

We appear to be continually waking from dormancy, feeling an expanding excitement and terror with the growing realisation of our place on the operating table of life. Why we are conscious is a mystery, what we do with our consciousness is a more immediate question – and yet all questions, words, thoughts, actions, time, love and fear – all vortex into the singular enigma of X the unspeakable.

It seems impossible to construct a uniform and total definition for humanity. We are far too diverse and hybrid in our excitements, phobias, obsessions, beliefs, behaviours and expanding nature to be ‘nut-shelled’. Yet, there are deeper languages that permeate through our beings. These languages exist within the coding of DNA, our cellular heritage.

Afterthoughts - Frederick Clarke at Hazard
Afterthoughts, from Clarke’s Let X be | Image courtesy of HAZARD Gallery

We are designed to intuitively understand vibration through forms of composition and harmony, to respond to existence itself, to experience the art of being – as both creators and witnesses. As much as we are animals processing practical information to survive, there is another side to us, we are capable of transformational magic, through our uniquely human state of awareness and creative expression.

The word ‘magic’ is problematic, as it is more than often linked to illusionary magic, requiring suspended disbelief to fulfil the illusion of magic. Illusion is a trick, and magic is mystery. This work is a response to these thoughts and perceptions, windows into other spaces, fragmenting and reassembling coding into new forms. If we are supposedly made in God’s image, then computers are made in ours.

Manifested technology exists as an interesting blueprint for the inner workings of a human being.

The core focus of Let X Be is to reconnect with the ‘organic’ internet of thought channelled through the body, to remember and explore our universally unique biological hardware and software, to stream, download and play the games and programs we are designed to enjoy and evolve, letting X be.


Let X Be by Frederick Clarke - Hazard Gallery


Images and text courtesy of the Hazard Gallery.