Half Circle Painting, black & white #6, 2017

Photo: Gunnar Meier
Photo: Gunnar Meier

Acrylic on canvas,
203 x 103 x 3 cm (framed)

Claudia Comte’s wide range of works is unified by a common origin. Citing her upbringing in the rural landscape of Grancy, Switzerland as her most profound and sustained influence, her practice can be characterized by an interrogation of the relationship between natural materials, technology, and craftsmanship, as well as “the way the conditions of our planet modify [those] materials.”[1] Working across sculpture, painting, film and mixed media installation, Comte is specifically interested in the patterns, systems, and code which exist organically in nature and has developed her thinking around these in multiple ways to form a practice “guided by a distinct rule-measurement system of her own creation, wherein each work specifically relates to one another.”[2] Beyond method, her interest is further expanded by her reinvestigation of principles concerned with form, from related art historical currents such as geometric abstraction and movements including Concrete Art, and Minimalism. 
Half Circle Painting exhibits both the variety and wholeness of Comte’s practice: it is a semi-circle shaped canvas marked by a single brushstroke which sweeps from the lower half of the painting in a clockwise motion to the upper half. The brush, the width of which is equal to the radius of the painting, produces a monochromatic gradient from black to white as it deposits acrylic onto the canvas in a dynamic movement, resulting in a mark which contains both the time and physical gesture of its making. Its shaped canvas can be viewed as derivative of minimalist enquiries into painting’s form, while its surface combines impressionistic gestures. The painting, which as a result of these conditions bares resemblance to objects of time, also relates directly to other works in Comte’s practice. It is, in fact, difficult to view Comte’s two-dimensional works apart from her three-dimensional works to the extent that the relation between them develops what she calls “a back and forth between flat painting gestures and voluminous characters. A constant play between foreground, middle, and background, and the human experience within it.”[3][4] Most notably, and when regarded as part of a series of paintings which includes other half-, and full-circle canvases, Half Circle Painting seems closely tied to the use of wood in Comte’s larger sculptural works, as the brushstroke also parallels the growth-rings of a tree viewable on the cross-section of its trunk, which can be dated using dendrochronological scientific methods to reveal its year of formation, as well as information about the atmospheric conditions of its location over time. Comte’s own stated interest in the mnemonic capacities of natural materials is therefore closely related to the visual connotations offered by her paintings. Half Circle Painting emphasizes the unity of Comte’s practice in highlighting the way in which each element of her work is fundamental to a whole. The work’s conceptual strength is gained as much by these means of relation, as it is by her engagement with art history, and questions relating to nature. ­­–Elsa Gray

[1] Quoted from the artist’s biography. Available at https://www.claudiacomte.ch/biography
[2] ibid
[3] The artist speaking for Engadin Art Talks 2018. Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UrEIJzTppw0
Claudia Comte,  was born  1983 in Switzerland. Her work is defined by her interest on the memory of materials and by a careful observation of how the hand relates to  different technologies. 
Engadin Art Talks 2018 I Claudia Comte