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Hour of the Wolf

Hour of the Wolf

Philip Clairmont 1949 – 1984

21st September - 10th October

The Vero Centre, Foyer, 48 Shortland Street + Pierre Peeters Gallery Parnell

(As a child) I knew I wanted to be a painter or a bullfighter (and) nothing else.– Philip Clairmont

In Philip Clairmont’s personal notebooks he writes about Hour of the Wolf,Ingmar Bergman's 1968 brilliant and difficult Swedish surrealist-psychological horror-drama. Clairmont was very taken with this film, and we see the transformative state seen in the film where the actor’s faces sometimes morph into animal heads, referenced and somewhat revered in Clairmont’s paintings around this time, and in this exhibition, such as Country Carnivore Carnival. The film mostly takes place between midnight and dawn, the hour, which Bergman calls the ‘Hour of the Wolf’ and explains: "It is the hour when most people die, when sleep is deepest, when nightmares are more real. It is the hour when the sleepless are haunted by their deepest fear, when ghosts and demons are most powerful. The Hour of the Wolf is also the hour when most children are born."

In the film an artist has a breakdown while confronting his repressed desires. At night the artist is haunted by insomnia, paranoia and strange dreams. This echoes the inner turmoil that Clairmont suffered, which contributed to his short life. His expressionist painterly display of angst, energy, and virility – he was a master of creating and suggesting forms with paint.

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The film director required a creative act of imagination from his audience, a sort of suspension of disbelief. Which is what Clairmont also demands from us, the active viewing audience.

Martin Edmond, author of the biography, ‘The Resurrection of Philip Clairmont’, (1999) said when interviewed by Hamish Keith and asked about Clairmont’s practice and expressionist style, “I always thought that what Phil was trying to do was give you a portal, a door. Doors of perception. You were meant to go into a Clairmont painting. You were meant to go through it…”


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