Every month we select an artist to be our Artist of the Month, and answer a few questions about their work. This month, it's the turn of Claudia Innocenta and her beautiful portrayals of women.
When and how did your interest in art develop?
Since I was a little girl – thanks to my granny and my auntie Rita who introduced me to art. I was born in Tuscany near Florence; a part of Italy where art is everywhere. They showed me sacred paintings from the Great Masters – from Giotto to Michelangelo. One day I asked my granny: "Why are our family portraits and photographs not as mesmerising as these paintings?” At this time I didn't know the difference between a photo and a painting. I was 3 or 4 years old and it was then that I started painting sacred images and Barbie dolls.
What influences your art?
The arts, education, la "culture" is the most profound motivation to "Be Alive". To create, with faith, new artworks. It has always been inside my soul, without which creating something new would be impossible. We should all try to explore the inner of knowledge and try to be creative. It helps especially in the hardest moments of our life.
What process do you go through when you are creating a piece (starting with the initial idea)?
I am an escapist. My works are made to escape from social -political situations, to run away from this world, this present. It is a form of protest too. I take a lots of influence from films, books, and heroes, heroines, and some historical past events. The process could be spontaneous but it usually requires a lot of studies. I am always doing a lot of sketches before starting the actual painting.
The main subject of your work is the female figure, does this have any significance?
In my painting I like to portray atemporal women, pop icons, movie stars, literature heroines, or women from everyday life like prostitutes or just a passer-by in the street, from past time to modern woman. In all my painting there is often a shadow, the main subject of the painting and an observer, who stands for society and how it looks upon women. My female characters often have a worried or melancholic expression that reflects the difficulties of being a woman. To be at the same time beautiful and powerful and find the right place in society. In my art I attempt to epitomise how wonderful and problematic it is at the same time to be a woman, through my colours I try to reveal their beauty, their mystery and their versatile side.
Which artists, if any, have have you drawn inspiration from?
They are thousands of them! The master Matisse, Chagall, Otto Dix, Klimt, Edouard Manet, Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Jackson Pollock, Hopper. But at the age of 8 years old I won a National prize and found out about the "Naïve" Movement and I fell in love with Rousseau. When I saw his “Dream" I made my own version, a naked Barbie doll in the jungle. From artists that I know personally I am influenced by the young designer and performer Anne-Sophie Cochevelou. I love her Barbie art pieces.
Do you have a favourite piece? If so, which one and why?
Caravaggio’s Judith Beheading Holofemes. Beautiful and weird, yet intense and sacred visually – even if it represents a murder. Caravaggio always took inspiration from the real, wild world, from the street; bars, brothels (Rome, Naples etc.) and his Judith was a prostitute, his lover too from the quarter of Trostevere In Rome. We can imagine Rome at that time.
You had work in the Impact Fair in 2013, and an additional two exhibitions at Saint Pancras Hospital Gallery. How does it feel having the public seeing your work?
I was so happy to be part of both of them. Also I exhibited at in a show curated by Salome, a lovely friend: "Whisper of Wind". I love to show my artworks to the public. It greatly boosts my self-esteem. Selling is great but not the most important thing. I like to be part of an event, to see people talking about my paintings. They can love or hate it; it doesn't matter as long as they are not indifferent to it. Latin people used to say "Better to be hated than ignored".
What has been highlight of your artistic career?
I've been to parts of events in Italy, Austria and Argentina before Impact Art Fair. It was a big show for me thanks to Simon Powell from Creative Future. I met a lot of people, most notably Sue Kreitzman who is passionate about my colourful paintings. She influenced me a lot and she gave me the chance to exhibit with her at Epiphanies in Saint Pancras Hospital Gallery where I met Peter Herbert and had the chance to work in his gallery twice more. He is great artist with a beautiful personality.
Has being a part of Outside In been beneficial for you? If so, how?
Outside In is important for my personal experience, a development in my artworks. Recently I've been very ill and Outside In is one of the things that helped to keep me going, to be stronger for my recovery and motivated to carry on painting.
What is next for you as an artist?
Well I can't tell. It is too soon. I will be exhibiting at the Saint Pancras Gallery with many talented artists from the 11th of September till 30th of October 2014 in Chromophilia – the joy of colour. Just after my recent illness, I would like to develop my practice exploring new horizons in art looking more into the status of women in contemporary society. I want to give joy to the people. It is easy to make people cry, it is much more difficult, however, to make them laugh. My aim is to give happiness, serenity, like an enchanting lady.