Clare Woods, who graduated from the Goldsmiths’ College in 1999 and originally trained as a sculptor, is today one of Britain’s most idiosyncratic contemporary painters.
Her distinctive paintings, which are rooted in the English landscape tradition, over time, have expanded into a wide visual language that includes still life, interiors or portraits and figures.
The paintings are based on photographs that are sometimes from the artist’s own collection and at other times grounded in imagery from newspapers and magazines. The original photographs are cropped and edited by drawing through the forms to remove elements of them, so that they begin to sit on the edge of legibility and figuration. Woods conceptually empties the source image to replace it with a new interpretation, often symbolically charged, during the act of painting. This physical breakdown of the image, which forces a slowing down and falling apart of the visual, entices the viewer to question their ability to decipher the content of what is in front of them, and to question what it means to live in a time of the mass consumption of imagery in a world that treats banality and disaster in the same way.
Although Clare Wood’s work cannot exist without photography, it is not the origin of the image that is important to her; she is concerned with the emotional response the imagery triggers within her and its potential for reinterpretation or translation, as she is always preoccupied with the human environment and her personal desire for certainty.
In the artist’s unique painting style, with finger-wide, tangled brush strokes that create a peculiar three-dimensionality, lies a connection to sculpture. It seems as if Clare Woods is sculpting the image in paint.
Clare Woods’ work has been shown in solo exhibitions at the Hepworth Wakefield in Yorkshire, the Southampton City Art Gallery, Chisenhale Gallery in London, the Mead Gallery in Coventry and the Serlachius Museum in Finland, among others.
The artist has also executed several permanent public art commissions, including for Carpenter’s Curve at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London (2010–12), the VIA University College in Aarhus, Denmark (2014) and at River Bend in Dallas, Texas (2019).
Works in public collections include those at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York; ARKEN Museum of Modern Art in Denmark; the Dakis Joannou Collection Foundation in Athens; the Hobart Museum in Tehran; and The National Museum of Wales in Cardiff.
Clare Woods was born in 1972. She lives and works in Hereford, UK. The Buchmann Galerie has represented Clare Woods since 2008.