I am a self-taught painter and writer specialising in naïve art.
I studied English at university followed by a Master's degree in Renaissance Studies, and then went into book publishing. I began to paint in 2006 following a six-month trip to Latin America, during which I travelled across Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Brazil. Inspired by the colours and landscapes I had seen, I bought a set of acrylic paints and canvas on my return home and started to experiment. I have been painting ever since, developing my own distinctive style of contemporary naïve art influenced by cultures from across the globe.
My work to date is of two types: playful and vibrantly colourful naïve scenes brought to life by people and animals, and very simple shapes and landscapes which I call my ‘cosmic’ paintings, which try to capture the essential forms of nature as I experience them in visions and dreams.
My naïve art celebrates a childlike view of the world, and is often blended with fantasy. I like to capture the innocence of things viewed in the ideal, with freedom from the rules of logic and perspective. I enjoy looking for the joy and novelty hidden within the little rituals of everyday life - work, play, festivals, travel and so on - where universal human dramas are played out at a day-to-day level. Though these paintings span different times and cultures and show specific, detailed scenes, the kinds of activities shown are universal and cyclic, speaking to similar hopes and memories in us all.
"it's really uplifting and inspiring to see your work..."
While my naïve art grows out of an active desire to connect to a common human heritage, my 'cosmic' paintings tend to drift up directly from dreams or private reflection, or to emerge from work in progress, demanding their own space. Focusing on form rather than detail, these works have spiritual significance for me and reflect the essential power and simplicity of nature.
Whatever I'm painting, colour is always essential to the composition. People often remark that my art is 'all about colour', and for me, the contrast and energy of the palette contributes as much as the scene itself. Although I don't follow formal technical rules, each work is created with painstaking care and can take many months to complete, with an emphasis on fine detail, and a richness of colour built up during several layers of overpainting.
I am a member of the Association of British Naïve Artists (ABNA) and have exhibited at various shows across the UK. I am listed in 'Who's Who in Art' (34th Edition), and have also appeared in two books of artwork, Contemporary Painters (Schiffer, 2012) and The Association of British Naïve Artists (ABNA, 2012). I currently live in South East London.
"I really love your work with so much movement and colour and fun! Can't wait to see what you come out with next!"
Exhibitions and Events
June 2012 Association of British Naïve Artists:
Little Picture Gallery, Mousehole, Cornwall.
May 2012 Association of British Naïve Artists:
Delamore Gallery, Delamore Park, Cornwood, Devon.
July 2011 Association of British Naïve Artists:
Crypt Gallery, St Ives, Cornwall.
November 2010 Association of British Naïve Artists:
Crypt Gallery, St Ives, Cornwall.
December 2009 Christmas Show: Broadwalk Arts, Bristol.
December 2009 St John's Christmas Fete: St John's Church, Hackney.
September 2009 Clara Johanssen: Wonderland.
Solo show: Basement Gallery, Pages of Hackney, London.
July 2009 Out of Africa: Obsidian Art, Stoke Mandeville, Bucks.
June 2009 Association of British Naïve Artists:
Mariners Gallery, St Ives, Cornwall.
October 2008 Association of British Naïve Artists:
Clare White Gallery, Elsecar, Barnsley.
"Great exhibition. Loved your work – so full of life and vitality..."
My painting 'Carnival Day' is featured in a press shot for the Association of British Naive Artists exhibition at the Clare White Gallery in Elsecar.
This photo shows the gallery owner, Steph Pollard, holding up the painting.
Photograph courtesy of Ian Townsley.
© Clara Johanssen, 2009. All rights reserved.
The online gallery of British contemporary and naive artist Clara Johanssen, featuring original paintings, fine art prints and biographical information. @ Clara Johanssen, 2009. All rights reserved.