Born and raised in Versailles, France, Claire was schooled in Paris and obtained a Baccalaureate with distinction.
She moved to South Africa in 1981 and read Law at the University of the Witwatersrand.
Claire met her husband Giuseppe Soffietti (an Italian architect) and moved to Turin, Italy, where they married in 1984.
They moved back to South Africa in 1988 and then on to Barbados in 1994 where the last of their four children was born.
Claire's career flourished in the Caribbean. Here she exhibited very successfully with celebrity clients such as Luciano Pavarotti and Cliff Richards collecting many of her works.
Today Claire resides in the "Mother City"- Cape Town, South Africa, with her family; she exhibits throughout South Africa and the Western Cape, and internationally she is featured on Online gallery platforms such as Saatchi Online Art Gallery, Artsy and Singulart. Claire has exhibited on a very international platform.
From the notorious "Sandy Lane" in Barbados to the creative streets of Chelsea New York City. Cape Town and Johannesburg have also been the home to many of her works. At the present day, Claire’s works are exhibited from Cape Town and across the Western Cape, to Franschhoek, Hermanus and Stellenbosch. She has been featured in articles in publications such as Habitat, 'The Collector's Guide to Art and Artists in South Africa'. Offshore, Claire has also exhibited at Agora Art Gallery in New York City, United States and in Montreal, Canada where she was awarded the title of 'Best international emerging artist of 2013'.
Statement and Methodology
Claire Denarie-Soffietti was an autodidact artist from the outset. "My earliest memories are with pen in hand — my appendage. As I would instinctively inhale to breathe, to draw came just as naturally. There wasn't a singular defining moment of my artistic endeavours, but I recall drawing on any and every surface as a child, at every chance I got. Not even the curtains were spared".
Formatively, Claire started with oils on small formats. Later she discovered pastels, inks and water colours. She scaled her formats, influenced by the double volume structures in South Africa. "There was a greater sense of freedom relative to the scale with acrylics but I continue to use multi- and mixed mediums. I build up acrylics with oil and pastels and build up layers of thinned-out pigments for texture. I also changed from primary colours to a more subdued palette and explored divergent strokes for different impressions". These principles are adept to the school of Fauvism, that Claire fervently serves.
She insists, "I have no rational process. My gut produces my work. Nothing gives me greater solace than the resonance of old painters like Toulouse Lautrec, Cezanne, Monet, Manet, Gauguin and Van Gogh, whom I believe saw the same".
From depicting quiet moments: serene portraits; a tranquil woodland path; a woman lounging on a chair or two Pink Elephants, to Charlie Chaplin's and Coco Chanel. However, the colours are more intense than in reality, while the compositions are so tightly framed that they become dynamic, and the portrait subjects never reveal all to the viewer. Claire's figures have secrets and hint at an interior world within the picture frame. Her contemporary impressionist painting style and bold colour choice make the 2D picture world seem more real.
There is this element of distortion evident in some of her pieces. When asked whether this sensationalises any particular personal interpretation of the world and life, the artists' response is - "Nothing pleases me more than the grotesque of human nature! I don't do pretty and I become colour-blind when it comes to pastels and sober colours. Nature and human nature, to me, are perfect and ought to remain untouched in their finished state. I can only allow myself to marvel, not to comprehend. I paint to translate the absurdities of my mind and stop when it fails to entertain me".
As with evolution in artistry, Claire speaks on methodology... "I'd like my scope to be conscious of today's age. I declare that my work does not come close to reality. I leave this phenomenal task to the academics and those whose goals lay in anatomy or the right perspectives of the world. I honour the inner child's perspective and my works are a " wink" at life”.
Claire and her husband are purveyors of the East, Claire having been trained in Tai Chi Shaun and Chinese sword and has been teaching for 15 years. In this stage of her evolution, Claire says, "For me, just about everything is wrong and my art rests in the balance of the unbalance. Despite this, I will endeavour in incongruences, vehemently. The same applies to colour, form, dimension and texture. I need not worry about codes and conventions for convenience’s sake. I welcome the wrong shadow or what 'shouldn't be there'... Balance is a stroke of genius, born out of chaos or in total imperfection. I strive to cultivate this, navigating away from reality".
On fine art in a commercial world, Claire says, "Today in art, darkness and sensationalism prevail, and I protest. The world is dark enough and my quest is to bring a bit of joy to it. Art should be acquired to live with for a very long time. Like all good marriages, the mystery will inevitably fade away but the daily joys should prevail. I want lots of tenderness, kindness, and smiles from what I do. I know nothing, I know, and I submit to learning everything. But before then, let me try to soothe your heart with a bit of 'Joie de vivre'. As long as I have never, ever taken myself seriously, this, I have never evaded and so I can pledge not to, ever".
Evolving, "As the abstract is beginning to make a whole lot more sense, I give into evolution by committing to better myself after each painting. I do not give in to overworking. If it means to let go of the right curve and replace it with an odd one, it wouldn't find its place in my nature. Never mind, because, to me, it makes all the sense in the world".
She admits "I paint to translate the absurdities of my mind and stop when it fails to entertain me." And in an ode to those who came before us she says, "I love and respect all movements that have recursed today. I am constantly baffled by the way Picasso
metamorphosed himself, covering the full spectrum. He managed to paint like Michelangelo at first and in finality, like a child prodigy, had reclaimed complete freedom of expression."
Claire's significant new style and the beginning of a new period within her artistic evolution, began in the year 2013, whereby the artist began expressing a strong exploration of patterns, colours and contextual subjects. Her pieces started becoming much more conceptualised and defined. The artworks depicted the stronger introduction of portraits and landscapes. With regards to her landscapes, she simply puts... "Nature is perfect to me, and ought to remain untouched in its finished state. I can only allow myself to marvel, not to comprehend". Her context and subject matters have the same characteristic use of colour, but her strokes and pattern designs tell a story on their own. There is a depth in the detail, much more prevalent in this new period.
It is evident in the artist’s subject choices that her evolution is directly impacted by the various environments and places she has lived in. She is the modern example of how global displacement and the impact of various cultures, visuals and surroundings are a catalyst to the birth of modern contemporary art. Contemporary art is no longer defined by boundaries, neither cultural nor geographical.
"The more I yield to my vision, the more it seems to make sense. My freedom is joy. Even in sadness, love in colour will prevail. Dare loving, dare to splash, never shy from your 'cobalt blues', your 'magentas' or your 'deep roses'. If you go black, go deep black, all the way and make no apologies. For, right above that, is the sublime. Complementary and opposite can co-exist. Do male, do female, go big, go small, do a tree, go home, do water, do a big blue or rainy skies, do a bee, do a tomato, create the absurd, draw a frog, a pig, paint the old, paint a child... do it all! Above all: Vive La Difference!".