Light on a Woman Artist
Marie Bagi presents to you,
A Writting Interview of Clara Bolle
Artist and Philosopher
- Tell me a bit about you and your path…
Thank you Marie for inviting me to your platform. I love sharing my thoughts and work with others. My work evolves around the body : What does it mean to be your body instead of having a body ? As a philosopher, writer and artist I research our body as being. Everything that I do, from writing an article to making a painting, can be traced back to the theme of the corpus.
We love to tell ourselves stories with a clear end and beginning. However, my short life doesn’t have a clear cut story but different snap shots. With the current knowledge I can only guess that this might or might not have lead to my current position as a creative maker. I would like to share two distinct memories of my childhood that I think contributed to my art practice.
The first one is me walking between fields of grain. I must have been 10 years old. It’s the end of summer and the colors of the trees are turning yellow and red. It’s time to harvest. On the top of the hill I pick up a rock. With the other hand I grasp a couple of stalks. We walk along tiny chapels and crosses with flowers of plastic. At every crossroad there is a small temple. I decide to make my own ritual with the rock and the stalks. A mini shrine to honor the senses. For the first time I regard the image as a spritual experience, although I wasn’t conscious of it at the time.
The second one is me visiting the studio of the Dutch artist Jaap de Vries, a friend of my father. His work is very intense : the use of blood, of limbs, the darkness, the light, hard metal. I didn’t comprehend his work then because I was a child but it did make sense to me. It was about the feeling of freedom, to explore the secrets of life. I felt I was part of a secret society. It was the first taste of the life of an artist.
- How did you get involved with art ?
Fortunately, I grew up in a very artistic and intellectual family. We weren’t rich but we were rich in experiences, in beauty and in education. My parents always stimulated my brother and me to paint, to built, to write, to sculpt. It didn’t matter what the result was. I distinctly remember my mother encouraging me to paint my own room : I painted my wall black (typical teenager) and the window frame was adorned with flames. We also visited a lot of exhibitions. My brother and I were a real handful as teenagers but my mother had a way around it : if we would behave we would get dessert. I’m still very grateful for being able to see so much of the very best of Europe.
- Have you always created ?
There were periods in my life I where wasn’t aware that I was creating or that I didn’t feel like making anything. However, I always come back to making : thinking, writing, painting, drawing. To me it feels natural, it’s a way of being. I guess it’s very human to want to create : it is a way to express yourself but also a way to be in charge of your life. Art is a very powerful tool.
- How are art and philosophy connected for you ?
Philosophy to me is the foundation of my work and I even dare to say of my existence. In my opinion philosophy is about wanting, the desire to know. Longing is what drives the philosopher to ask fundamental questions about life. In my art practice philosophy is the basis from where I do research. However, expressing your philosophical and/or literary thoughts in writing has its limitations. Since the body as being is my topic I need to venture outside of philosophy and art is a logical step as it is material, physical and deals with images. By using this philosophical and artistic approach I’m able to experience the totality of our bodies.
- When did you first expose your work ?
Thanks to social media a platform to showcase your art is always available, independent of other parties. This gives a great sense of freedom. It gives me the space to make mistakes, to explore, to challenge myself. However, I prefer the tangible sensation of a work. I guess, I started to share my work online more than a year ago. It was very exciting because I didn’t know how people would respond. Currently, I’m part of two group shows. The first one is called UnReal and it is on display at the Eramus Medical Centre in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. My project Metamorphine is an expression in image and words of transformations by patients based on Ovid’s Metamorphoses, a classical literary work. The other one opens in October this year at the Target Gallery (part of the Torpedo Factory, a cultural center) in Alexandria (Virginia, USA). The title of the show is ‘In my Head, In my Body’. The work that got selected, The Intruder 2, is named after an essay that the French philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy wrote on his heart transplant.
- Do you have a certain visibility in Netherlands ?
The Science Gallery in Rotterdam is my first and at the moment the only platform in The Netherlands where I showcase my work. Also, Tijdschrift Filosofie, a Dutch – Flemish magazine, has asked me to be guest editor for their September issue. For this magazine I chose the topic, the body, selected the writers, and my art work will be on the cover. As you can read, I’m very proud of this accomplishment. Of course, I would love to participate more in the Dutch art world but why limit yourself to one country ? The world lies at your feet ! I noticed my thinking and art work resonates more in an international setting. I very much enjoy to be confronted with different views on life and different languages.
- How intimacy shows up into your art ?
Intimacy is such a complex word when it comes to art (and in life, to be honest). Does intimacy occur in my work, between the viewer and the painting, the viewer and the artist, between the artist and the work ? In my opinion my work is very expressive, bold and sensual. I’m not sure if sensuality and power are related to intimacy. You could argue that I’m taking risks in my work by showing a part of myself, a sense of vulnerability but not in a quiet way.
- Is there a place where we can see your work permanently ?
You can view my work online via my website clarabolle.com. On my website you can find publications, projects and of course my portfolio. My social media, like facebook and and instagram, show my sketches, drawings, thoughts, poems and much more. By the way, I also send out a monthly newsletter if you want to stay up to date of all my plans. You’re always welcome to contact me with remarks and/or questions.
- Can you talk about one of your art’s piece and how is it important for you ?
Thisbe is a very important work to me because it was the beginning of taking myself serious. Thisbe is the Julia, a Shakespearean figure, in the work of Ovid. I tried to translate the figure of Thisbe, of her finding her Romeo, in my own imagery. In this particular painting everything comes together what is important to me : mythology, the body, expression, risk, explosion.
- Are you making some artivites around your work ? If yes, can you propose one for the Espace Artistes Femmes ?
Yes, this September I started a new platform for art critique called Parrhesiastes. Parrhesiastes means ‘those who speak truth to power’ in ancient Greek. The platform wants to be a space for those who are not afraid to share their critique on the art world. Parrhesiastes wants to challenge assumptions, engage intellectually and to share ideas in relation to contemporary art. There’s a rolling open call and anyone can submit an article. For more information visit parrhesiastes.blog or follow Parrhesiastes platform on instagram.
Author : Marie Bagi, Contemporary Art History and Philosophy, Ph.D.
Published on October 12th 2020