Art Essays

Clara Adolphs – Lindberg Galleries, Melbourne

Published January 19, 2019
Clara Adolphs, 'Daylight Hours' (2018)

Artist: Clara Adolphs

Lives: Bundanoon, NSW


Represented by:Lindberg Galleries, 1270A High St. Armadale, Melbourne (Chalk Horse, 301A, Level 3/77-83 William St. Darlinghurst, Sydney; Edwina Corlette Gallery, 2/555 Brunswick St. New Farm, Brisbane).

Her thing. Oil paintings based on found photographs that tap into our own memories and experiences.

Our take.Clara Adolphs is not the first artist to be fascinated by the old photographs one finds in flea markets and junk shops. These faded snapshots, intended to immortalise loved ones and special events, have become mysteries, as we can no longer identify people and places.

Nevertheless it’s easy to recall similar holidays and family outings, and enjoy a sense of familiarity. It’s in the nature of snapshots to concentrate on moments of leisure, and this is reflected in paintings such as Sunbather, where a woman relaxes in a deck chair, or Daylight Hours, in which three figures lie stretched out on the grass.

Adolphs translates these anonymous pictures into oil paintings made with broad strokes of the palette knife. The images play on our distant memories in a vague, teasing manner. She restores the life and colour to these scenes but leaves the faces crudely painted. They are everybody and nobody. Your family and my family. The simplicity of the work is reminiscent of the paintings of American artist, Alex Katz.

Adolphs says that her painting style is an attempt to avoid sentimentality. But while it’s hard to be sentimental about people and objects that we don’t actually recognise there’s plenty in these deadpan pictures to induce twinges of nostalgia.

Can I afford it?

The highest price ever paid for a painting by Clara Adolphs is $10,000. The Goulburn show is not a commercial exhibition but works on display may be purchased through Lindberg Galleries or her other outlets, the most expensive is Daylight Hours(125cm by 168cm) at $9,500. The cheapest is The Yellow Shirt(61cm by 72cm) at $4,000. These are fairly standard prices for a promising artist in her early 30s.

Where can I have a squiz?

Clara Adolphs: Remembering Words, Goulburn Regional Art Gallery, 7 December, 2018 – 2 February, 2019. (or