Contemporary artist Clarissa Galliano specialises in large-scale charcoal botanical drawings. Her captivating observations of British flora celebrate the intricacies of natural structure and form.
Clarissa is drawn to the architectural aspects of flowers and plants; these drawings do not solely highlight the decorative. Her motivation for increasing the scale of the images is to amplify the abstract qualities of tone and pattern. At the heart of these botanical ‘portraits’ is a juxtaposition of the fragile reality of the flora and the bold abstract statements of the drawing.
I think these drawings have become as much about architecture as botany. The form and structure are the edifying ingredients with which I am searching, to get the image to materialise.
Charcoal has always been my favoured medium. It allows an uninterrupted response to the subject, an immediacy like a stream of conscience. The speed at which decisions can be made using charcoal creates a strong engagement with the visual image and the physical activity.
Often Gesso is applied and worked into, retaining a visual history of decision-making marks beneath. In this sense each drawing becomes a chronicle of its own journey, slowly revealing the twists and turns of stems, leaves and petals through the artist’s distinctive construction of charcoal marks.
These energetic records of botanical formations prompt us to notice and value the humble plants and flowers that surround and enrich our everyday lives. The single stems or flower groups are presented in suspended form so we are confronted with their inner workings, faults and folds. Their monumentality gives them a commanding presence yet they preserve a surprise and intimacy, like a giant precious stem revealed from between a press.
Originally from Toronto, Clarissa studied Fine Art at Exeter College of Art in the 1980s and has exhibited widely across the UK including at The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition and as a member of the Buckinghamshire Art Society. She now lives and works in Cookham.