Clara Adolphs

Clara Adolphs


b. 1985 Sydney, Australia
Lives and works in the Southern Highlands of NSW

Clara Adolph’s work is based on a paradox. Painting as a medium always suggests the here and the now. Adolph’s work, with its gestures of thick paint and graphic strength, feel as if they have just been taken off the studio easel. Even here in the gallery the paintings feel almost as if they are in the process of coalescing on the canvas and foreground their present ness.

The images in Adolphs’ work in contrast are based on collected photographic images of ski resorts, family holidays and summer pools. They represent a past that seems a little more innocent and more elegant of simple pleasures. It seems a lost time.

Yet by painting these images Adolphs is able to bring this past strikingly into our own lives. The nostalgic atmosphere in the work now becomes one of vitality and immediacy. The images almost become heroic. A holiday snap of friends in oil paint becomes connected to the portrait genre; the ski slope becomes a landscape genre painting; the selfie returns again to self portrait. Through mannered colour and carefully chosen compositions the images are made more controlled and complete.

At the same time the sketchiness and expressive stroke of the work makes you feel that the painting is still not quite complete. In many of the works the white canvas shows through as if we have caught the work halfway or as if we have to complete the image somehow in our own minds eye.

The work then embodies a contradiction. It represents in equal measure a response to the past and insistence on the present. As a viewer we oscillate with a buzz between the two.

Clara Adolphs completed her Bachelor Degree in Fine Arts at the University of New South Wales in 2008. Since then she has held solo exhibitions throughout Australia. She has been a finalist in the Archibald Prize, the Sulman Prize, the Mosman Art Prize and the Brett Whiteley Travelling Scholarship. In 2017 she was awarded the Eva Breuer Traveling Art Scholarship through the Art Gallery of New South Wales as well as the Mosman Art Prize Young Emerging Artist Award. In 2019 she presented a major solo exhibition at Goulburn Regional gallery. Adolphs is represented by Chalk Horse, Sydney and Hugo Michell, Adelaide.

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