The Creative Process
Clarissa Cestari’s large canvasses are instantly engaging – magnified, curvilinear brush strokes of apparently thick, luscious paint. The broad, sensual streaks are at once familiar and suggestive. I like how she quietly subverts tradition and turns the rules of painting upside down. Paint and the process of painting are both subject matter and muse.
Brazilian Cestari defies easy categorisation. This is abstract art in one sense yet the paintings are large scale reproductions of projections of real brush strokes. Each line of these intricate compositions is painstakingly rendered by a paint-loaded syringe, slowly tracing line after line, curve after curve with the steadiest of hands. Distinctions are blurred. Questions are asked. Is this painting or is this drawing? The artist’s hand becomes “invisible”. Contradictory. The fluid lines abruptly fade to blank. The spontaneity of the brush strokes belie studied control. The strokes overlap, interact with and interrupt each other in a fragmented dance that is simultaneously fluid and illogical. Moments of clarity and elegance are interspersed with confusion and chaos. Rushing waves, hair, Japanese Nanga style painting, the complex patterns of finger prints, the groves in an old record, post-feminist metaphors – the use of a syringe to apply the paint carries notions of icing bags, cake decoration and domestic bliss – are some of the messages these extraordinary pieces convey. So much of contemporary art strives to say so much with mixed, sometimes convoluted results. These paintings speak with a casual ease. Like Damien Hirst or Anish Kapoor, Cestari is economical in her approach. On an initial level the work is universal due to scale and its graphic, visual nature. Peel back the layers and you find the hidden meanings. This is art to be enjoyed but also art to make you think. The two don’t always go together.
There is something quite human about Cestari’s work – conflicting emotional states, fragility, strength, grace, destructiveness, unpredictability. The sum of all our fears. So much said. All from the quick swipe of an artist’s brush. Genius? Without a doubt.
Clarissa Cestari. Currently showing at the east central gallery, 13 March – 24 April, London