The dreamlike abstract paintings of Clara Fialho

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Clara Fialho

Clara Fialho is a Brazilian born and New York based artist, that she calls home since she moved there with her family as a teenager. 

Her whimsical and colorful abstract paintings are a feast for the eye and invite the viewer to relax and meditate. She explains that she “became interested in the ideas of the collective unconscious and how we function as individuals within larger organisms”. The round shapes that appears in her works “could be tiny cells, or giant stars, but they are all important as part of a larger image”.

Untitled, 2019. Oil on linen, 31 1/2 x 39 1/2 inches by Clara Fialho

She had her first solo show at 22 and is since then exhibiting extensively in group, two-person, and solo shows, throughout the country and abroad. Indeed her work is exhibited in Tunisia at the ambassadorial residence as part of the U.S. Department of State’s Art in Embassies program. When she’s not painting, you can find her doing figure skating (read below to see the link with art!). She has a busy schedule ahead with an upcoming group show with Amy Simon Fine Art, CT and will be showing at Scope Miami Beach with Azart Gallery, NY during Basel Miami week. 

Tell us about your artistic path. 

One of the things about being an artist is that it is part of one’s identity. I come from a creative family, and I’ve been drawing since I can remember. As a child, it was all I did all day, every day. When I came to New York, I attended LaGuardia High School, the high school from the movie “Fame”. While there, I was encouraged to apply for The Cooper Union, which at the time offered full-tuition scholarships and I was accepted the third time around. I am grateful for the amazing education I received there; I would have never attended college otherwise. After that, I started painting out of the kitchen of my studio apartment while using corn oil (don’t!) and broomsticks for cross braces. Soon after that, I signed with Merge Gallery in Chelsea. I have been working full-time as an artist ever since.

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Your paintings include round shapes, which seem to be floating up to the surface. What’s the story behind it? 

I used to paint realistically until my senior year in college, when I started reading Jung and Unamuno, and I became interested in the ideas of the collective unconscious and how we function as individuals within larger organisms. These round shapes could be tiny cells, or giant stars, but they are all important as part of a larger image. Perhaps there’s a feeling of comfort in knowing that none of us are all that important and neither are our problems. A lot of people have contacted me over the years telling me that something bad happened to them and that looking at my work made them feel better.

My goal is to always be able to do what I do.

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Untitled (#69), 2019 Oil on canvas, 30 x 40 inches

What is your relationship with social media?

It’s a love-hate relationship. A few years ago, I thought Tumblr was where it was at, but then everyone moved to Instagram, and I had to start over. I am normally very shy, so I feel uncomfortable posting. At the same time, Instagram’s image based format makes it a perfect platform for artists. It has allowed me to discover a lot of interesting art, artists, and art lovers. A lot of my collectors are also there, and everyone is super sweet and supportive. I don’t do Facebook, Twitter, etc. 

Do you have an anecdote that you’d like to share?

For the past 5 years, I have been taking figure skating lessons. Artists cringe when I say that, but every movement is based on a diagram that must be traced on the ice. Back in the day, you could win an Olympic gold medal for tracing the best figure (which is why they call it “figure” skating.) They looked like mandalas and very few skaters can make them nowadays. I also think that, like any other form of art, skating is something that may appear very delicate on the surface, but takes an enormous amount of energy and discipline to accomplish. I think all of that informs my work to a certain extent. 

Clara Fialho in studio

What is your dream project?

Hmmm… something big, where I could incorporate my art into dance or theater, sort of like Nick Cave.  

What are your projects for the coming months / year?

For the next 2 years, I will be having a large painting on exhibit at the ambassadorial residence in Tunis, as part of the U.S. Department of State’s Art in Embassies program. Next month, I will be in a group show at Amy Simon Fine Art, in Connecticut, and I will also be showing at Scope Miami with Azart Gallery. 

Contact: Clara Fialho –  Instagram @clarafialho

Azart Gallery | New York, NY.

Amy Simon Fine Art | Westport, CT.


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