Claire Colette

Illustration by Ojima Abalaka

Every city has more than one story to tell and one face to show. Regardless of the artistic background, each place is full of inspiring individuals making its own culture and story. In Plus’s online initiative, ‘City Talks,’ we feature 10 creatives representing the designated city per season, asking contributors to share personal relatedness and building an engaging community that gives a sense of belonging.  

The second season takes place in Los Angeles, and this week, we discuss with Claire Colette.

What is the first thing you do when you wake up?

I have a four year old who has a lot of energy in the mornings (and always) and often wakes me up early. I get myself a cup of coffee and start the day reading her a few books.

 

Where is your favorite (go-to) restaurant in LA? Why

I love going out to eat but I have a price cap where it just doesn’t feel worth it. There is so much great food for cheap or reasonable to be had. I like Little Beast in Eagle Rock for a nice dinner out with cocktails. Joy in Highland Park has great Taiwanese food—we order out often but prefer eating at the counter when we can.  Since we live in the Foothills, I’ll mention Lichi’s Taqueria in Tujunga—they are woman-owned, super sweet, and the food is delicious. 

 

What are your ways of recharging/ taking breaks?

A few hours at Wi Spa in Koreatown, hiking in the foothills, and gardening are my go-to’s when I need a break from the studio. I also see art around LA regularly.

 

What kind of song are you into these days?

La Fama by Rosalia, any song by Cocteau Twins or Psychedelic Furs, and various Alice Coltrane albums depending on my mood -lately it’s been Ptah The El Daoud.

 

There are subtle and sublime layerings of colors providing what looks like a dreamscape, and the recurring usage of mathematical elements resembles a star which opens up an unlimited possibility to the viewers. With that in mind, can you share more about the choice of colors and your fascination with math?

My choice of color is a sensitive one. I have been exploring a wider range recently, and am acutely aware of how some palettes make me feel. A painting can look great but something about the color will irritate me and I have to change it. It’s hard to explain -even to myself- but I have learned to trust it. Not many brightly colored paintings make it through.
 
As for math, my fascination is more with systems and rhythms. I am interested in semiotics and the power of language and symbols. I like forms that reduce ideas or meanings down to a few lines. My library of symbols keeps growing as my visual language expands. The work is increasingly about language, the transmission of information, and the role of the subconscious. 

 

You incorporate ash, salt, rainwater, and different types of flowers in your recent works, and wonder what about those materials interests you.

A few years ago I was researching ritual practices, the various materials used, and their associations. I began to work with some materials that were used in Northern European practices since that is my heritage. I’ve really enjoyed working in this way and now incorporate biotic materials from travels, my garden, or things that feel significant to me.
 
I’m also working with materials that build up the surface of the painting, such as molding paste and plaster. I want the work to feel rich, sculptural, and mysterious. 

 

Are there any specific imagery/sights you reference in your work?                                                 The spaces are imagined but reference landscape, mountainscapes, the ocean, and the sky. I like the idea of the work being a reminder of our smallness in a vast universe, in a way that is also comforting. I deliberately keep references open and abstract in order to facilitate this.


If you could have any artwork in your house, what would it be?

Cy Twombly, “Wilder Shores of Love”- either version. 


How would you describe the art scene in Los Angeles?

It’s a fun and fairly close-knit community. I think artists are very supportive of one another here. The artists I am around really working hard and pushing each other and as a result, most of my friends are starting to do very well. Most of us feel that the community aspect is the second best part, aside from being in the studio.


What changes would you like to see in the art industry at large?

There are so many issues with how the secondary market is impacting artists and the culture. I’d like to see more regulation there. Also Instagram. I think it has been a wonderfully empowering and unifying tool for the art world—but it is over relied on. It is reductive, as it is meant to be— and not the way to consider thought-out intellectual shows that people have poured their creativity and intellect into. I think it has trained us to like one-off confident work with bold colors, and so much gets ignored. I am guilty of this but am training myself away. I hate considering an entire exhibition of mine through the lens of Instagram.


Which three qualities in yourself are you most thankful for?

My perseverance, my curiosity, and my insensate drive to create.

 

Listen to all the favorite songs picked by our City Talks contributors HERE.

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