“I’m so incredibly inspired by urban roughness: the graffiti, the posters, the fresh and old paint, the dirt – all this random imperfection is my definition of beauty.”
The Essence of Abstract Minimalism
Born 43 years ago in the quaint town of Guimarães in the northern region of Portugal, Clara Lemos embarked on her educational journey in the city of Porto at the age of 18. After five industrious years, she emerged with a Master’s degree in Nutrition Sciences. The relentless pursuit of knowledge propelled her to the Netherlands in 2004, where she honed her academic proficiency by obtaining a PhD in Human Biology in 2008. A chapter of personal growth awaited her in Berlin, a city that she would come to consider home as it witnessed the blossoming of her family life. In 2022, Lemos and her family made their way across the Atlantic, choosing the Boston area in the US as their new residence.
Lemos dedicated nearly two decades of her life to cancer research, leveraging her robust biology education. Her scientific journey began in academia, eventually transitioning to the pharmaceutical sector in 2014. Within the corporate environment, she made substantial contributions by spearheading the development of novel cancer treatments.
Despite not manifesting overt artistic tendencies during her formative years, the adult Lemos found herself deeply intrigued by the realms of art, fashion, and design. Notwithstanding her inherent reticence, she managed to cultivate a distinctive sense of style and a sophisticated understanding of beauty. This passion for the arts was initially expressed purely through observation, without any intention of creating her own work.
This dynamic shifted dramatically in January 2021. While on maternity leave amid a global pandemic, Lemos found herself with an abundance of free time. Motivated by a desire for a practical and intuitive hobby, she began experimenting with acrylic painting. Guided by online tutorials and an inherent curiosity, Lemos soon found herself fully immersed in the world of painting, spending every free moment mastering her craft.
The overwhelmingly positive feedback from family, friends, and social media provided encouragement, leading her to submit her work to open calls. Success followed as her pieces were exhibited and published. Upon returning to her full-time job and juggling responsibilities as a new mother, she faced challenges maintaining her productivity in art. Nevertheless, Lemos continues to prioritize her artistic endeavors, dedicating most of her free time to creation in her home studio, and often engaging in on-the-go art during her travels or leisure time.
Clara Lemos: Art Reflecting Personal Traits
Emanating a distinct essence of abstract minimalism, the artistic repertoire of Clara Lemos consistently showcases a predilection for neutral and monochromatic tones. This stylistic choice is not confined to the bounds of her artwork but seamlessly permeates into her choice of attire, personal accessories, and the aesthetic of her living space. It is a living testament to her philosophy of beauty and the stylistic choices that underpin it.
The emotional substratum of Lemos’ artwork reverberates with subtle echoes of her personality and those she holds dear. With conviction, she attests that a significant portion of her creations are metaphorical interpretations of her character and the traits she values in her interpersonal connections. Preferring the tranquil to the boisterous, Lemos has a profound admiration for those who embody a quiet depth, a self-reflective demeanor—individuals who are akin to what she fondly refers to as “coconuts”. These individuals, seemingly inscrutable at first, eventually reveal a tender core beneath their resilient exterior. This mirrored reflection of character traits is salient in her minimalist compositions.
Lemos’ interpretation of minimalism extends far beyond surface simplicity—it’s an enticing exploration into introspective depths. Upon first glance, her artwork may appear silent, unassuming, even uneventful. Yet, they beckon closer inspection, inviting observers to peel back the layers of mark-making, collages, and textural elements hidden beneath. It mirrors the “coconuts” she admires—unassuming on the outside but filled with an intricate richness beneath the surface. This understanding of minimalism is not about absence, but rather an invitation for dialogue and contemplation—a silent prelude to meaningful conversation.
In relation to her workspace, Lemos appreciates the transition from the confines of her dining table to a more purpose-driven studio nestled within her home. Though modest in size, it is an effective creative oasis, teeming with all her essential artistic paraphernalia and a collection of scavenged materials ready to be reimagined into her paintings. Despite this dedicated space, she embraces the opportunity to create art beyond the confines of her studio. With a modest array of art supplies, she transforms flights into flying studios, turning her nervous energy into artistic expressions. Even the familial idyll of her backyard provides a creative backdrop, where she paints to the joyful sounds of her son playing. This acceptance of potential disruptions as part of her creative process highlights her adaptability and her ability to find artistic opportunities amidst the mundane.
In the contemporary landscape of social media and virtual exhibitions, Lemos gleans inspiration from a myriad of unidentified artists who courageously share their creations with the world.
Clara Lemos: Embracing Minimalism
The palette of Clara Lemos’ artistic style has been indelibly colored by significant art movements such as Abstract Expressionism and Art Informel. Her admiration for specific artists like Antoni Tapies and Hideaki Yamanobe is apparent. Lemos is profoundly captivated by the whimsical and revolutionary aspects of Tapies’ oeuvre, especially his innovative integration of non-artistic materials into his creations. Alberto Burri, a pioneer in mixed media usage, is another pivotal inspiration for Lemos. She regards Hideaki Yamanobe as a paragon of minimalist monochrome artistry; his tranquil yet potent paintings are a perpetual wellspring of inspiration for her. Lemos recently added one of Yamanobe’s works to her personal collection, a piece that has rapidly become the most treasured item within her domicile. Furthermore, she acknowledges David Ostrowski’s influence, particularly his adept employment of spray paint, as a key element shaping her artistry.
Two of Lemos’ creations bear special significance to her due to the distinctive circumstances surrounding their inception.
“Frostbite,” her initial commissioned work, was born out of a request from her spouse. Prior to this, Clara had never ventured into commissioned work, given her apprehension towards external feedback disrupting her intuitive process and the inherent tension it could introduce into an otherwise therapeutic endeavor. Yet, acknowledging her husband’s integral role in her artistic journey, both as her staunch supporter and as the curator of the visual content that enhances her social media presence, she embraced this challenge. Despite a few rounds of constructive dialogue and the accompanying stresses, the outcome was mutually satisfactory. “Frostbite” holds a coveted place in Lemos’ heart as her favorite painting thus far. She describes it as a minimalist yet complex work, subtly reflecting her husband’s character – an intelligent, affectionate, humorous, kind, and passionate introvert.
The second piece, “Your Body, Your Choice,” was conceived during a tumultuous period in U.S. history – the overturning of Roe v. Wade in June 2022. Lemos, a fervent pro-choice advocate, responded with shock, anger, and ultimate disillusionment to this political development. She grapples with the disconcerting reality of those who impose their moral judgments on women’s bodily autonomy, and laments the dearth of compassion and understanding in societal discourse. Lemos believes unflinchingly in the right of every individual to make decisions concerning their bodies with dignity and safety. Interestingly, her own journey to motherhood was made possible through another woman’s choice not to terminate her pregnancy – the operative word being ‘choice’. The creation of “Your Body, Your Choice” was driven by a passionate mix of indignation, love, and respect. This piece adorns the wall of Lemos’ bedroom, serving as a daily reminder of the essence of freedom.
Inspiration from Art Movements and Pioneering Artists
Clara Lemos embarked on her journey with acrylic mediums motivated by their practical advantages: their non-toxic nature was a safe option in her domestic environment, especially in the vicinity of her infant. Equally appealing was the water-based characteristic of acrylic, which promised a mostly mess-free creative process.
Lemos initially expressed her creativity largely through acrylic paint and ink, but soon broadened her artistic horizons to encompass other traditional media. Charcoal, pencil, and pastels found their way onto her canvas as she grew more confident with these tools. Her innovative spirit didn’t stop there; Lemos’ work began to incorporate a diverse range of found materials. Discarded paper, fabric, cardboard, and other items, once destined for the landfill, found a second life in her vibrant pieces. This incorporation of repurposed materials not only reflected her commitment to sustainability but also symbolized her predilection for uncovering beauty in the mundane. Her recent adoption of spray paint has added a new dimension to her work, providing a “wall-effect” that she finds particularly gratifying. In her pursuit of texture, Lemos often turns to marble dust and sand media.
Lemos identifies wholeheartedly as a mixed-media artist, and her journey in exploration shows no signs of slowing. It’s foreseeable that she will continue to infuse new materials and elements into her creations.
While Lemos initially approached painting as a hobby, she has come to recognize her artistic passion as something far exceeding a mere sideline to her profession as a scientist. It is evident that she envisions a future for herself as a full-time artist, a prospect she cherishes. However, she also acknowledges the path still unfolding before her, as she continues to grow and find her community within the art world. Simultaneously, her love for science and the sense of purpose it brings remain unwavering. Lemos’ journey to full-time artistry may be unhurried, but her direction is clear, and she remains resolute in her conviction that, one day, her artistic aspirations will be fully realized.