Grand Designs Australia – Lara Scolari Feature
WORDS LOUISE SMITHERS
When you step inside Lara Scolari’s luminous Balmain studio, you won’t find her sitting demurely behind an easel, a dainty paintbrush in hand. No. Not in this studio. In this studio the hands, the arms, the whole body are the brushes. “The brush becomes an extension of my body and I hope to visually translate the energy and emotion in a nearly meditative state,” Lara explains.
As a gestural (or “action”) artist, Lara makes marks (gestural brushstrokes) using the action of her body to transfer energy onto canvas in what is referred to as abstract expressionism. Whether smearing and smattering or dripping and splashing, the paint applied is the direct result of Lara’s energetic movements, and is combined with a variety of mixed media to attain depth and layering and ultimately reveal hidden dioramas.
Her studio is like an Aladdin’s cave of found objects and supplies, ranging from artist paint, inks and rope to mesh, utensils and all sorts of surprising textiles. “In my practice I frequently use archival inks, acrylic paint, pastel, oil stick, resin and varnish during the creative process and in the moment of inspiration I grab the most suitable tool which I feel will give me the mark,” Lara elaborates.
Driven by an innate interest in the organic form and line, and how energy informs the painting and viewing process, her work provides a space for the viewer to engage within a spectrum of energy: from vitality to calmness.
The concept of energy, and corresponding emotions, is what inspires this bold artist to create. Soaking up the energy of any given location (Lara loves walking and exploring Australia’s natural and built-up landscapes), she will try to absorb the essence, form, feeling and palette of the place. “I am also very interested in what you cannot see but what is below the surface or within the subconscious of the place,” she says. “With my artworks, I try to display this through the elements of design including line, form and tone to create a visual image of my responses.”
Lara holds a Master’s Degree in Cross Disciplinary Art & Design from the University of New South Wales. After raising three sons, supporting her husband’s business and working in the cultural sector for two decades, she made the decision to focus solely on her artistic career in 2014. The impetus was the showing of her AIR series — her first solo Sydney exhibition — at the Dank Street Gallery in Waterloo. Since then she has exhibited at more than 75 group and solo shows.
“The past three years have been tremendously busy and exciting,” she says. “I now reside in Balmain, working full-time from my vibrant light-filled studio and I am in the process of converting it into a stunning family home, an open art gallery and my ‘happy creative space’.”
From the tonal Noir series of works to the earthy palette reflecting the Australian outback in her Nocturn series, Lara is an artist unafraid of switching things up, with each series advising the next. Her latest collection, FLUX, was unveiled at the prestigious Maunsell Wickes gallery in November 2018. The body of work captures the visual energy, movement, life force and palette of the Australian landscape through the use of layered organic forms.
Like what you see? Lara has teamed up with Designer Rugs to create the bespoke Lara Scolari Collection to be released in early 2019.