Clarissa James ROI
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Clarissa James ROI

Austrian, 1972

Clarissa came to London in the early 90's following her childhood dream of working for Jim Henson's Creature Shop as a sculptor and animatronics designer. Inspired by a visit to the Watts Gallery in Compton and her first encounter with the work of Edward Burne-Jones, Clarissa began researching drawing techniques, both of the 19th Century and the Renaissance.

Following the Old Master tradition, Clarissa studied human anatomy both at the Slade and University College Medical School in London.

Initially self taught as a painter, Clarissa moved to Florence in 1997 for more formal training at the Florence Academy of Art. Whilst living in Florence, she further pursued her research into Renaissance techniques. Following her years in Italy, she spent several summers in Norway as a student of the renowned Norwegian painter Odd Nerdrum. These summers resulted in her first solo show in London, 'Nordic Light' with the Park Walk Gallery.

Clarissa has always been drawn to fabrics, rich textures and glowing light. When she returned to figure painting, rather than exploring narrative avenues, her imagery began to focus inwards on calm, meditative atmospheres - simple compositions and increasingly rich textures.

In the following years she developed a great interest in the simplicity and clarity of Japanese art and design. In 2008 Clarissa had the opportunity to travel to China followed by Japan in 2009. These two journeys were the inspiration for much of her solo exhibition 'Drawn to Silence' with the Whittington Fine Art Gallery in Henley 2010. In 2009 Clarissa was also elected a full member of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters. (ROI)

Outside her comfort zone and in the run up to the Olympics Games in London, Clarissa was involved in a privately sponsored project of portraiture of Olympic and Paralympic athletes. She worked with Lee Pearson, Leon Taylor, Ade Adepitan and Zac Purchase.

In 2011 Clarissa was invited to be the first Guest Painter In Lord Leighton's Studio at Leighton House, Holland Park taking her back to her roots. The residency was arranged to coincide with the 'Cult of Beauty' exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum. It was felt by the curator of Leighton House that Clarissa's work is in direct lineage with the Aesthetic Movement of the 19th Century. "I am not trying to make narrative paintings in the classical sense,

but to create objects of beauty that bring a glowing atmosphere of calm, stillness and serenity into their environment."

Following an accident, Clarissa was forced to take a period away from painting and spent time to recuperate in New Mexico. This experience resulted in a broadening of her palette. Work, that used to be monochromatic, became infused by rich colours.

Currently, Clarissa is still based in London, but draws additional inspiration from the light, the wide open landscapes and the star lit skies of northern New Mexico.

Her work is regularly shown with the Whittington Fine Art Gallery in Henley and S. R. Brennen Galleries in the US.