ABOUT ME AND MY WORK
I’m Claire Lichtenstein, a Johannesburg based artist and preferred painter.
My paintings can be best described as visual poetry because they don’t just represent the world as we know it, but capture the essence of it, a presence that cannot be put into words. I am currently exploring elemental philosophy and the way that nature speaks to the human psyche through the language of images. Also, ideas in alchemy (transformation in the paint and my physical involvement in transforming the substance by scraping, pouring and stabbing etc.) My paintings are self-reflecting (both for myself and my audience). They are there to evoke and engage the senses (physical and emotional) and to encourage new thoughts and experience, and to make a connection. They are feeling-paintings. When I paint, there is no predetermined outcome in mind. Through a complex inner dialogue with the paint and the influence of self, a sort of alchemical/metaphysical transformation takes place and something new is born into the world – a painting with a vibration of its own.
My love of nature developed early on. You’d always find me in the garden, smelling the flowers (and picking them) and playing in the bird bath with my Nana’s tupperware. I believe this is where my inner understanding of tactile things blossomed from.
I never studied formally. This was a blessing in disguise as it allowed me freedom of creation to find my own distinct style. This has been mostly developed through painting with Ricky Burnett (who I started with in 2011) who has to me become a mentor and friend. Everard Read Gallery hung three of my works in 2013 which was a huge achievement and I have had numerous exhibitions since then. I was a resident artist at Assemblage Artist Studios in 2016 and exhibited with David Krut Projects in 2017. I’m currently juggling motherhood and painting, and am exhibiting in group exhibitions around Joburg.
I find that working with paint is a sensual, organic experience (it’s lovely stuff) and I often use my hands to move the composition around, navigating my way through the possibilities, holding on to one thing and discarding another. I often have no predetermined outcome when I’m working, but instead manipulate the surface to evoke and engage the senses. I sometimes even make my own mediums. I’m currently inspired by artists like Pat Stier, Monet, Rothko, Joan Mitchell and Cy Twombly.
Foreward by Ricky Burnett – mentor, artist, curator
There are painters of pictures and there are painters of paintings. Not all pictures are paintings and not all paintings are pictures. Common thinking might describe pictures as representational – in other words they re-present, as in present again, something already present – boats in the harbour, a sunset, a dead tree and so on. But not all paintings are equal. Sometimes a painting will do more than represent the world as we know it. Sometimes, and at its best, painting will search for new ways to see the world and thereby increase the scope of our understanding of the world. Good painting makes new things visible. This is especially true of what is often called abstract painting or non-representational painting.
Most good abstract painting begins with the premise that the outcome is uncertain and the process of making is a process of discovery and is quite distinct from manufacture or production. So the artist begins to navigate with his or her self through a labyrinth of possibilities, cherishing one thing and discarding another. Through this process something previously unknown or unseen is born into the world. This idea of painting has its technical origins in Monet and Cezanne and its philosophical roots in Malevich, Mondrian and later the abstract expressionists of 1950’s New York, Rothko, Kline et al.
Claire Lichtenstein is a painter of this type. By sustaining a complex dialogue with her material, the paint, she allows various sensuous entities to emerge on her canvasses speaking to and of biomorphic fields, of tissue and serum, of fold and crease, of crust and skin.
Find out more about Ricky’s art classes – Facebook Group