Cleo (Clementina Cote) was born near Lyon in 1943 and died in 2007. Her violent youth fell on sixtieth years of the twenty century - the time of “Children of flowers”, sex revolution and creation of communes.
This pseudonym Cleo, more precisely it’s abbreviation from her first name and her family name - Clementina Cote - was invented for herself as a protest against her family name, it seemed for her very long and old-fashioned. She was known in communes and in Giverny as Cleo and she signed her paintings like this.
The rebel, Child of flowers, Cleo didn’t recognize all official art and any critic. Although she got artistic education in the Academy of Fine Arts Cleo denied the power of museums and auctions and also the power of exhibitions over an artist and his art. She was independent in her choice to create and to charge her works. Cleo could offer her painting to a beggar or to sell it for million to Arabic sheikh. Every time it was her emotional burst.
Fashion tendency was non-conformism, fashion artists - Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Marc Chagall. When Cleo was sixteen she escaped from home to Paris to become the pupil of Picasso, she was affected by his art those years. Cleo was lucky - the aged maestro gave her some lessons in his Paris studio. It roused her to choice of her profession and her life. Cleo always remembered that time and knew herself as the pupil of Picasso. Later her life was crossed with other artists - Dali and Chagall and from each she took some particle of experience. Those meetings significantly influenced her artistic world-outlook. Cleo considered those lessons as apprenticeship, as the best school that influenced her more than academic artistic education.
Her childhood and youth could become content for a big adventure novel. We can divide adult life of Cleo into three important periods. The first one is the life in communes throughout the world: in Europe, England, USA right after Academy of Fine Arts, where she wasn’t just one student-artist. The paintings of this period are impressive, impetuous, rebellious as in their form as in colour and content. There is elation, sometimes despair, bright open colours, unchecked sexuality… bursts of emotions and colours… A lot of paintings of this period Cleo offered to her commune mates, to people that she simply liked. Often she painted on walls, but this kind of her painting has not been conserved to a present day… To this time belongs a legendary history of sale for million of her painting to a powerful Arabic sheikh.
The same sales were reiterated by the way. That’s why today we can find her paintings both in royal bedrooms and in bedchambers of powerful sheiks… We should mention that during her life the artist was lucky of rich and powerful admirers of her art, in the first place from Arabic countries. Probably the characters of her canvas resembles them their dreams and theirs wives and concubines…
At this time Cleo bears two children. She doesn’t conceal that all her children are the children of the commune, and she doesn’t know in principle who their fathers are. Cleo herself was a child of her time and it was expressed in her actions. Though gradually he feels her life burdensome. And she starts to find something permanent, non-temporal in incomprehensible, flickering and infinitely changeable surroundings, something that could be a guideline in her future life. And as before she finds it in the art. Monet becomes her future support, her ideal.
So the second period passed under the sign of Monet. A great influence of his art, world-view, way of life. Cleo was always attracted by impressionism though just in that time it came seamlessnessly in her art as a component part of something entire, that we name her style. That’s why she became a frequent guest in the village Giverny where Monet passed his late years. This place became Mecca for artists and lovers of impressionism during Monet’s life. And after his death a lot of artists from different countries could have been seen there. The style that we see on Cleo’s paintings was formed just there.
So Cleo leads a lot of time in Giverny, actually she lives there. Its influence is clearly expressed in her art. Her paintings become more restrained, a big harmony of colours so spesific of Monet, begins to apparent. In her works appear some subjects, absented before: still lives, flowers, and views of Giverny. And in the same time that period is one of the most impressive and critical moments in her art. It is scince that moment she becomes the Artist Cleo that we know today. Wildness, lack of restraint of her early art were balanced by impressive individuality multiplied on the experience, skills and dissolution in her art.
The third period is the return to her home, to her children. It is calm measured life, entirely devoted to the art. Though sometimes her former habits brake out and Cleo goes off looking for uncommon feelings.
So making the interim resume of art of Cleo (only nowadays the people seriously and systematically start to explore a phenomenon of her painting), we can say the following: the artist’s talent was appreciated as origin. Cleo has an art of chiaroscuro and composition. In fact Cleo always tended to break academic borders, that’s why in her paintings there is a lot of passion and her every painting is as bright exotic butterfly, on which a beautiful woman baths in sunbeams. This favourit subject of Cleo passes across all of her art. Also her three main loved colours: red, yellow and blue. Red is colour of love, yellow means sun and blue is the colour of her loved flowers in Monet’s garden - iris.
We can name the style of artist as mixture of fauvism and impressionism. Probably it’s just one thing that Cleo didn't dispute!
Paintings of Cleo are in private collections in France, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Kuwait, Dubai and in the Kingdom of Morocco.