John Karl Claes was born and raised in the San Joaquin Valley of California. He began painting in high school and went on to complete a B.A. at California State University, Stanislaus and then earned a M.F.A. in painting and drawing from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Since graduating, he has received numerous awards, both regionally and nationally, He has shown his paintings and drawings regularly in many solo and group shows.
Claes’ paintings of the landscape of the West have been described by the Sacramento Bee art critic Victoria Dalkey as, “Original...(he uses) deeply saturated color in his raw and romantic landscapes with dramatic skies. His works can move towards abstraction and the color investigation of Mark Rothko. John Karl Claes’ work gives us a moody gestural image in somber yet rich tones.” His work is represented in galleries throughout the West. He currently resides with his wife and two sons in California’s Central Valley where he also maintains his studio.
These paintings are of just a few subjects, but each work has its own interaction of color, just as the chords and rhythms make up a musical score. My work is about color, and my paintings are an excuse to explore it. I work from my memories of what I have seen, rather than from photographs, and as a result the paintings are a mix of this and my imagination creating semi abstract images of real things I’ve seen. I use color to elevate my abstracted landscapes, they are representations of places that always return to my memory. It is this powerful connection that drives me to use strong color for I have found that this is the best way to convey my affection for the land I see and experience daily. The memory of places informs my work, but it is not the central motivation. Color is the real subject of my paintings, and these works are my color stories.
- March 2018