If you come across one of the works of Italian artist Claus Word online, you probably think he’s a skilled photographer. Strong, close-up and detailed: his hyperreal work is quite fascinating. The fascination grows when it turns out that Claus isn’t a photographer at all, he’s actually a painter! The realism in his oil paintings is stunning, especially when you learn that they are all done in black and white.
Claus is fascinated by the past and has chosen to work in black and white as homage to the decades past. His style has been praised by art-lovers and galleries all over the world, with one of his paintings even being on display in the permanent collection of the MEAM museum in Barcelona, Spain. Claus was kind enough to talk to us and tell you all about his fascination for the human eye, his techniques and his inspiration.
If you had to tell somebody about your work and are only allowed to show one piece of art, what would you show and why?
Right now, I’m working on several series about various topics, but ‘Beyond Reality’ was my first series and it has completely absorbed me during the process. Choosing a work that can identify you completely is not easy, because the path changes continuously. Each of them creates the identity of the artist. Maybe ‘Paint It Black’ is the work I’d choose till now. I think it represents my technique; it is the work that took me the most time until now.
Many painters from the hyperrealism movement work in color. Your black and white work really stands out! Is it an aesthetic choice to work only in black and white?
The using of grey-scale is an inclination rather than a choice. I have always been fascinated by monochrome photographs. Seeing the allure of the past meet the high definition of today, a sort of union between past and future, is what I’m trying to connect in my artwork. Furthermore, it symbolizes the eternal dualism of life.
You mentioned before that your love for black and white is a love for dualism: black and white, light and shadow, life and death, past and future. Your latest series, ‘The Sound of Freedom’ is a set of diptychs showing the dualism between men and women. Can you tell a bit more about this series?
‘The Sound of Freedom’ represents my point of view about themes such as aesthetic beauty and equality of the sexes and compensates for a mass culture that I don’t share. I want to bring the attention to my “beauty standards”, similar to the artistic culture of the classical time. According to my mindset, today’s society is ruled by crazy ideas. It identifies beauty of women with anorexia and cosmetic surgery, and steroids or effeminate characteristics with men.
‘Beyond Reality’ is a stunning series of hyper-realistic close-ups of eyes. What is it about eyes that fascinate you so much?
I wanted to investigate the eye in his natural perfection. Every iris is always different from another one. Any eye could create a new world completely estranged from anyone else and I like to probe it in the deep. Furthermore, the gaze represents the subjectivity of a point of view, that is – also in this case – absolutely unique and personal.
Your partner, Donatella Marcatajo, is also an artist. Have you ever considered doing a project together?
At this time, we are exploring different ways: emerging artists are in constant development and search for his or her own artistic identity. In the future, I believe that we could realize some artworks together and it would be a beautiful fusion.
What’s the best museum or gallery exhibition you ever been to, and why did you pick this one?
One of my artworks, ‘Paint it Black’, is situated at the MEAM museum, and I consider that a wonderful and very important place for contemporary art. The MEAM has a collection of artists both established and emerging; it is the first museum who’ve created this context. I don’t know if any other museum does the same, but I think that contemporary artists need more opportunities like that.
If you could pick one artist, dead or alive, for a collaboration, who would you choose and why?
There is more than one artist who I’d like to collaborate with. If I have to choose one, it would be Van Gogh: his tragic story strikes everyone who lives a similar path. He was a precursor of his time and that’s why his incredible talent wasn’t recognized.
With social communities like Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest around it’s almost impossible to not have an internet presence. How important is the internet for you as an artist?
Today, thanks to internet, everything is easier, because you can arrive at whomever with a single click. I can imagine the big difficulties of a painter like me in the past without the web. Everything was so far from him and every idea was improbable, while – in the world of internet – any artist can have an identity and thus a real chance.
Can you tell a little bit about the project you’re currently working on?
At this time, I need to experiment without limitations, so I’m working on a variation of different themes.
Last but not least, will you recommend a book, movie, or artist you’ve enjoyed lately?
One book I lately read is ‘Eat, Pray, Love’. It speaks about life and how it needs to be lived to the fullest. I loved to read it and so I can recommend it for an enjoyable and intense reading.