Clara Berta is an abstract expressionist whose signature style of grand, evocative, affectingly chromatic paintings and murals activate architectural space and exert a transformational energy of serenity and contemplation on their surroundings. Organic, clear, roomy, luxurious and textured, her influences range from mid-century architecture to zen philosophy and her own experience in paths to healing. Berta has recently inaugurated a bright spacious new studio gallery space in DTLA, and will be open for visitors on this month’s Downtown Art Walk (Thursday, September 12) and her official grand opening and new works unveiling celebration on Saturday, September 14.
L.A. WEEKLY: When did you first know you were an artist?
CLARA BERTA: I think I always knew I was an artist. However, it was after I sold my first painting that I knew this was my path and direction, and that I loved creating art.
What is your short answer to people who ask what your work is about?
My work is about energy and feelings.
What would you be doing if you weren’t an artist?
I would be on stage performing and acting in films. I just feel the need to be creative; this is very important to me. I also love teaching. My students love that I mentor them and it gives me great pleasure to give back and see them expand with their creative work.
Did you go to art school? Why/Why not?
Yes, my foundation is in printmaking. I studied privately with Lynne Bernay, a fabulous teacher. She was tough on me, but I learned so much and I am very grateful for the two years that I spent with her.
Why do you live and work in L.A., and not elsewhere?
I love living and working in downtown Los Angeles. It is a city full of life, energy, culture, creative people, architecture, incredible high rises and most importantly, a diversity of people which I love.
When was your first show?
My first show was in 2000 and it was really special. However, I realized that I needed to study in order to create a foundation for my work and being an artist.
When is/was your current/most recent/next show?
I just installed a new show in my gallery at BertaArt Studio Gallery – a variety of work from my Minimalism series – and it looks amazing. I love creating large scale works, however, we do have some smaller pieces as well.
What artist living or dead would you most like to show with?
I would love to show with Gerhard Richter, since I have always admired his work. It’s truly powerful and I highly recommend watching his documentary about his life and process.
Do you listen to music while you work? If so what?
Since I’ve been creating this new body of work, I prefer to paint in silence. There is something that I do love to do once I get in my studio, and that is play some meditative music which sets the tone for the day.
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