Born and raised in Versailles, and having lived over 20 years in South Africa, Claire Denarie-Soffietti was an autodidactic art student from the outset. After eight years in Barbados, and four children, the artist – and her Italian architect husband – decided to settle permanently in Cape Town. Her work appeared previously in Habitat in 2011.

Claire Denarie has exhibited on a very international platform. From the notorious Sandy Lane in Barbados, with clients such as Pavarotti and Cliff Richards, to the creative streets of Chelsea, New York City at Agora Art Gallery. She has also exhibited in Montreal, where she won first prize in Best international emerging artist of 2013; a notable achievement. Cape Town and Johannesburg have also become home to many of her works.

Denarie’s art has evolved over the years: from depicting quiet moments – serene portraits, a tranquil woodland path, a woman laughing on a chair – to pink elephants and renditions of Charlie Chaplin and Coco Chanel. However, her colours are more intense than in reality and the compositions so tightly framed that they become dynamic, while the portrait subjects never reveal all to the viewer. Her figures have secrets, and hint at an interior world within the picture frame. It is this elegantly palpable painting style – and bold colour choice – that makes her 2D painted world seem more real than reality.

There is this element of distortion evident in her pieces. When asked whether this sensationalises any particular personal interpretation of the world and life, this artist responds: ‘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 tones.’

For Denarie, nature and human nature are perfect and ought to remain untouched in their finished states; she allows herself to marvel, not to comprehend. The artist admits: ‘I paint to translate the absurdities of my mind, and stop when it fails to entertain me.’

For the full article see Habitat #256 November / December 2016