A French-born artist based in South Africa, Claire Denarié-Soffietti paints the world in a new light. She translates the absurdities of her mind into picturesque scenes, cultivating landscapes with her blunt but kaleidoscopic attitude that have captured the hearts of many. Fiidaa Art had a tête-à-tête with the artist to learn more about her colourful journey.
Fiidaa Art: What got you into painting?
Claire Denarié-Soffietti: Painting was never a choice but a necessity. I tried to stifle the urge of painting often throughout my life, but the more I turned my back on it, the more it kickstarted the creative process. It stimulated the other side of my brain, leaving me yearning for more. Finally, I had to give in.
Fiidaa Art: What made you decide to become an artist?
Fiidaa Art: What is the best part about being an artist?
Claire Denarié-Soffietti:The freedom, of course! The feeling of jubilation and profound happiness is unparalleled. Yet, with this liberation also comes the chains—the Ying/Yang reaction where a painting is also the premise for doubt and anxiety. The score is often brutal when one receives so much happiness, and a painting will take everything out of me in exchange. I finish my days looking ghostly and drained with that incredible plenitude that I gave all I had. Good or bad, this is me you're looking at plastered on the canvas, and if you look at it carefully, you'll see scars, sweat and love.
Fiidaa Art: Who or what is your biggest inspiration?
Claire Denarié-Soffietti: Without a doubt, the Impressionist school! I'll go further and narrow it down with the Fauvist period, which only lasted four years (1904-1908). Freedom and distinctive colours are why Gauguin, Van Gogh, Lautrec, Derain could carry on. The impressionists embody all that resonates with me: not too realistic, not too fashionable, not too pedantic, just simplicity, life and joy incarnate. I chose to see the world the way they did, with nothing to prove but to myself.
Fiidaa Art: What opened your eyes to this stylistic form seen in your works?
Claire Denarié-Soffietti: Paris, buzzing around me since I was born. Montmartre, Giverny, Le bal du Moulin de la Galette and more.
Fiidaa Art: How has your practice changed over time?
Claire Denarié-Soffietti: It evolved, simply. I learn from my mistakes with each passing year. I am also more demanding with my vision. Brushstrokes, colours, relief, choice of subjects, the form was paramount and has now taken second place.
Fiidaa Art: What is your favourite piece of art you have done?
Claire Denarié-Soffietti: This would be like asking me who my favourite child is. Each painting has different qualities, and I wouldn't pick one. Customers instead guide me with their choices, and it is surprising to see that I could sell some a dozen times while others may not generate as much interest.
Fiidaa Art: Professionally, what is your goal?
Claire Denarié-Soffietti: I have no goal whatsoever. I paint with no plan. I am lucky to sell my work and propel my "babies" into the world; my main concern is the quality of the home they will find. I have four children, and they remain my work of art, my "Capolavoro", my masterpieces.
Fiidaa Art: What role does an artist have on society?
Claire Denarié-Soffietti: An artist has to remain true to himself. He can be politically or socially involved, opt for sensationalism, trend, or provocation, or cultivate joy and simplicity, which is in my case. My message is about life and tolerance. I refuse to dwell on the ugly because I don't believe that it helps the world in the end. Instead, I want to let colours and shadows dance for me. Outrageous colours mimic the sun's reflections, serene moments sing, and glimpses of happiness remind me that I'm alive and grateful.
Fiidaa Art is excited to present to you RGB: Reality, an online exclusive collection of words by Claire Denarié-Soffietti. From 10 – 24 February, head on down to Artsy to explore her stunning works.