CLAUDIA GIRAUDO‘s figures have long been protagonists of the whole Contemporary Art panorama, to the point that their creator has become an internationally recognizable and appreciated signature. Giraudo is a unique artist who creates in her canvases surreal atmospheres, often playful, sometimes thoughtful, where magical and mysterious children are surrounded by animal similar to demons and guiding spirits.
Claudia Giraudo has recently exhibited in public and institutional places in Italy and abroad, among them the National Etruscan Museum Villa Giulia and Carlo Bilotti Aranciera Museum in Villa Borghese (Rome), Polo del 900 in Turin, the Jewish Museum in Bologna, The Artist House in Tel Aviv, the National Museum of Ravenna, the Ex Ospedale of San Rocco in Matera and Casa del Conte Verde Museum in Rivoli.
DESTINED FOR ART, ART AS A MISSION
«We don’t choose to sleep or to be hungry, primary needs invest us and we are not able to decide when. It’s something out of our control. So painting was a primary need for me, like sleeping and eating, and, as such, it arose spontaneously, and I would say in an overwhelming way: I understood that I did not have much choice. The message was clear; if I had not indulged this sacred need, a part of me would have died.» – C.G.
When approaching Claudia Giraudo’s works it is important to remember an episode that she has defined as fundamental for her artistic research. The artist told how she was impressed by reading James Hillman’s “The Soul’s Code“. From this text she drew the concept of “Daimon” which is now fundamental in her canvases.
The concept of Daimon has always been investigated by classics and echoed in Greek and Latin literature. In the myth of “Er” Plato called it a paradigm, in Greek paradeigma, which means «model» (or «project») and «example», to be followed, to be trusted. It is a poetic metaphor of existence but also a declaration of intent. The paradigm is the fundamental form of a person, an image, a shadow that accompanies you in life and never abandons you, although it has no coercive power over the self. It is up to the individual to recognize and support it.
It is therefore the inner, positive demon, which represents the profound nature of the individual and guides his choices as long as he is able to hear its voice above all social constraints.
Hillman knows how to be even more incisive in clarifying the concept: «We all, sooner or later, have had the feeling that something was calling us to follow a certain road. Some of us remember this “something” as a precise moment in childhood, when a pressing and sudden need, a fascination, a curious combination of circumstances, struck us with the force of an annunciation. That’s what I have to do, that’s what I need to have. That’s who I am.» Giraudo therefore had her own fascination, the smell of the oil colors of which she is now surrounded and of which she has made her reason for being. «For me painting was a refuge – she tells– The smell of brushes and paints is something that I carry inside me. In my family only my mom painted as an amateur: I used to take her box of oil colors and I consumed them for dedicating myself to my passion. Alone.»
CHILDHOOD DREAMS AND DEMONS
«Going deep, I see that the profound loneliness that characterized my childhood found comfort and companionship in painting and exotic animals, which I saw only in specialized magazines and documentaries. The animals entered my life as a child, and when they found me they have never left me.»
The anxiety of childhood represented in her paintings was the same that she lived as a child. Painting – she says – was for her like a mom, a dad, a friend, a babysitter, an adventure partner and even a daughter. It is in the dialogue with herself and her dreamlike part that the figures that Giraudo gives to the observers are born, in a game of continuous references that indicate a difficult and restless path, even personal, precisely to the rediscovery of that inner Daimon that everyone should tend to reaffirm in his life. Hillman writes also: «We are born with a character that is given; which is a gift, as in the fairy tale, of the fairy godmothers at the time of birth.»
After these words, the poetics of Giraudo’s Art, which is the realization of her intimate essence, as well as her mission, become clear.
The children painted by Claudia Giraudo remember the Lost Boys of Neverland island, or even the enchanted creatures of Through the Looking-Glass where Lewis Carroll’s Alice gets lost, not because it is referred to that, but because the imaginary is the same: the golden age of childhood, where imagination and reality coincide, where everything is possible and where joy and reflection are not opposite attitudes but an innate disposition.
The painter defines herself as connected to the world of storytellers, circuses, poets and actors, but also of myth and fairy tale. In her deep and timeless oils on canvas, graceful young figures meet butterflies, greyhounds, chameleones, toads and cats. The animals are reproduced with great precision but not without a symbiotic and caressing look. They are totemic and esoteric symbols. They’re companions and messengers. They do not tell you who they are, but who you are while you are looking at them.
Giraudo composes a sort of bestiary of the human soul. Not violent, if anything loving. In her works peace and kindness dominate: we can perceive it in the harmony of colors and in the synergy that runs among all subjects in her canvases, united chromatically but also physically and spiritually. A calm that is not disturbed by the use of bright colors or serious expressions, penetrating or elusive on the subjects’ faces. The symbiosis between human and animal figure is clear: there is harmony in the pose, continuity of colors, traits, details.
The animal is not otherness but rather an iconic depiction of the personality of children, and resonates with the same look, expression, attitude and light that they have in their eyes. Yet Giraudo’s are talking, talkative creatures, and in this aspect they look like their creator, whose fervent imagination pours out like an ocean.
Monochromatic backgrounds make Giraudo’s creatures stand out as icons of fantasy, like figures from a magical universe. It is the magic of childhood, embodied in the guiding spirit, that must not be wasted, it must be contemplated, indulged, followed, chased, looked after.
The “mise-en-scene” – says the artist – is one of the key words in her works. The love for classic and Renaissance painting merges in Giraudo’s painting with references to modern art, such as empty, flat backgrounds, which make primary the power of the image. For Giraudo the purpose of her painting is to bring her inner world to the surface, as a gift for others, so that they can participate and reflect. «Painting, through images, can heal us».
Some “guiding animals”, such as frog and butterfly, are recurring in her paintings.
The artist says: «In my life I have lived two moments when I had to change my skin, that’s why I’ve chosen the frog: it is an animal that lives between two elements, water and air, it is a symbol of transformation. For me there is never death, but transformation from one state to another, and the same happens for the chrysalis that becomes a butterfly. Their presence is therefore intended to be a tribute to life and transformation, as, at least once in our lives, we are all asked to change our certainties, and we must be strong enough to take a new path.»
Claudia Giraudo’s painting have therefore a preparatory intent to human life: «We must abandon ourselves to the guide of the Daimon, our invisible part that reassures us and guides us and we must trust in it. There are no guarantees in life, we have to learn to live following what we believe in. It’s the meaning of life. I try to tell this also to adults: rediscover that refuge, that inner space that I found when I was little. Get it from your inner child.»
It is always important to see artists in their spaces and surrounded by the material of which their art is composed.
A corner in Claudia Giraudo’s studio is covered of oil colors, a thousand shades in that disorder that is order for those who know how to look at it and know how to find what they are looking for. They are waiting for the time to paint.
Giraudo defines her approach to painting as dual, and the imaginative phase is considerably different from the realization phase: «On one hand I must give free rein to all my madness (right hemisphere) and on the other I have a researcher’s attitude, almost a “scientific” approach to study (left hemisphere)»
Giraudo loves to follow unconventional paths, she investigates her instinct and she lets herself be guided by it.
«The Seeker is that part of us that is lucid and rational that seeks answers even at the risk of going through complex and complicated experiences». The result is therefore something extremely savage, not because it is brutal but, if anything, because it is clearly above all stereotypes.
From the imaginative and instinctive series derive often androgynous portraits, characters seized in their ethereal and primordial beauty, when male and female have not taken shape «before age have forced a choice of gender, perfect and self-sufficient in their duplicity, in which the unity of opposites guarantees happiness, and before the separation between souls and bodies has not caused yet the pain for the loss and nostalgia of one’s own half.»
Then, after the creative impetus, it comes the perfect technique, which makes evident to the viewer’s eyes the result of her imaginative “madness”.
Giraudo’s poetics is so clear that each of her artworks is unique, and the same can be said of her painting. The technical quality of her canvases is very high: the artist can perfectly convey to the viewer all the details of her vision, successfully managing to create in each work a microcosm without imperfections. The likelihood does not subtract from the creative and bizarre poetic construction but, on the contrary, it highlights its visionary.
There’s a great influence of Renaissance painting and Italian masters which creates a background of deep realism. Giraudo begins with the fifteenth-century expertise of oil veiling. The plaster on linen canvas, made especially for her by reliable artisans. Then she makes the sketch and the watercolor pencil and acrylic drawing. She works hard, defining shadows and compositional elements, until she’s convinced that they work well together. At this point the painting begins, one layer of oil color after another. Finally, the final veils in transparency, to enhance the depth and intensity of the colors. These passages are not unusual in Art: very often we find them in portraiture and still life, whose aim is to give the viewer the real aspect of things. Giraudo, however with this technique, manages to convey us the real of her imagination: the ruddiness of her little girls looks like those of photographs or models copied from real. But the only truth Giraudo reproduces is the one she brings inside her.
Claudia Giraudo therefore lives painting as an atavistic gesture that allows her to bring to surface her inner universe, which will be at the service of the world. The relationship she has with art is therefore an intimate and creational relationship, like an umbilical cord that must be severed when the work is finished because «paintings are like children who must be let go on their way to make their destiny. When I let them go, they go to accompany the lives of the people around them.»
CLAUDIA GIRAUDO was born in 1974 in Turin. She graduated with full marks in 2001 at the Accademia Albertina of Fine Arts in Turin, under the guidance of Prof. Franco Fanelli. She started her research in the context of visual painting, developing her skills through the study of Renaissance and Northern European Masters; this background transpires from both her technique and her choice of the subjects, yet maintaining her personal style. She frequently exhibits in art fairs, private galleries and institutional public places. Her works belong to permanent collections and national and international museums, among which the Harmony Art Foundation in Mumbai (India), the Museo MACIST in Biella, the Museo Eusebio in Alba (CN – Italy), the Sala del Consiglio in Bossolasco (CN – Italy) and the Museo Civico in Bevagna (PG – Italy). She lives and works in Turin.