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Claudia de Grandi in her studio

Claudia de Grandi in her studio

Waves and Horizons

Like so many people, when artist Claudia de Grandi moved to the Hastings area twelve years ago, she fell in love with the sea. She started painting small watercolours at her favourite swimming spot, but over the years her obsession with the sea – and the size of her paintings – has grown. Erica Smith went to visit her whilst she was preparing for her open studio event this weekend.

Claudia de Grandi in her studio

Claudia de Grandi in her studio

Sometimes you see an artist’s paintings and make assumptions about what they are like as a person, and sometimes you meet the artist first and have no idea what their paintings will be like. When I met Claudia de Grandi, she told me that she had originally trained as a classical pianist in Brazil and that she painted very large canvases. Then she invited me to view them. I love visiting artists’ studios – it is a privilege to have a glimpse into the spaces where art is created. I like to see the works in progress and the inspirational images pinned to their walls.

De Grandi’s studio is tucked away in an industrial unit in the Ivyhouse Lane estate. It is big – which it needs to be to house the canvases that dwarf the painter. Despite the size, her work is very quiet. During her MA at Camberwell, she researched Brazilian art and she said she doesn’t fit in with the stereotypes of Brazilian painting. I ask her what she means? “Beaches, girls, parties, bright colours – I have a quiet personality, and I like to paint quiet spaces. When I studied piano I spent five or six hours alone practicing. It is the same here in my studio – I like the isolation here, there are no distractions like cafés and people.”

Claudia’s paintings are very minimal, but they have depth. The four big paintings resting on breeze blocks along one wall remind me of the slab of sea and sky at the bottom of London Road in St Leonards, cropped to a square by the facades of the buildings. In fact, this new series of work is inspired by the North Pacific Ocean from the Californian coast.

Looking at her quiet but powerful canvases that float in the space between nature and abstraction, two master artists are brought to mind. She agrees and says “a friend of mine jokes with me that if Turner and Rothko had a baby, I would be that child”.


Most of De Grandi’s paintings are painted slowly – it took her about a year to work on the series of four paintings inspired by the North Pacific. But the brighter blue square painting shown in the top photograph only took about two weeks after she had completed the North Pacific paintings. It is a painting of the South Pacific ocean – inspired by an earlier voyage to Fiji.

I ask her more about the development of her paintings, and what influences them, and I realise that maybe her work is more Brazilian than she originally said. She is a modernist, and her work has a quiet, architectural presence which complements Brazilian modernism. She tells me that she plans to explore this combination of Turneresque nature painting and love of architectural minimalism in a future series of work. De Grandi has lived in the UK for 30 years, so her work is informed equally by her Brazilian roots and her adopted home country.

Brazil is also the home of the largest population of Japanese people outside Japan and there is a strong Zen influence on Brazilian culture. “My grandmother was a Buddhist, and I have spent years in India, practicing yoga”. I think De Grandi’s musical and spiritual background informs her work and enables the creation of these thoughtful, quiet compositions.

She also talks about her work from 2015 where she collaborated with the American electronic musician Joshua Tenant who is based in Berlin. He sent her music which inspired her paintings, and she sent him her paintings which in turn inspired his compositons. Some of these paintings, which include horizons, are on the long wall opposite the Pacific Ocean series.


De Grandi’s earlier Horizon paintings face the larger, more recent Waves series of the North Pacific Ocean

There is a depth to all of De Grandi’s paintings which can only be appreciated by standing in front of them. She creates contemplative space for the viewer to explore.

If you are interested in attending the private view or arranging an appointment to view at another date in June, please contact Claudia De Grandi for details of how to find her studio.

T: 07974 441150

Visit Claudia De Grandi’s website for more information.
You can read about her 2014 exhibition at Hastings Arts Forum here.

Posted 15:24 Wednesday, Jun 6, 2018 In: Arts News

1 Comment

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  1. Jill Tattersall

    Lovely article and very interesting altogether!

    Comment by Jill Tattersall — Monday, Jun 11, 2018 @ 11:54

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