Your body of work consists in reinterpretations in stoneware and porcelain of everyday objects. What sparked your interest for ceramics?
Firstly, an attraction toward the household objects led me to ceramic. I am deeply fascinated by clay and the gesture of the hand cupping the bowl. Beyond the objects, my interest for this art was aroused by a strong link with the origin of humankind, the ancestral tradition of making household objects out of that universal and natural clay. Finally, meeting with ceramists and contemplating their work was a strong incentive to become part of that story.
Jean-François Fouilhoux, stoneware sculpture / Galerie Capazza, Nançay, France 17th March - 17th June 2012
Opening reception: Saturday, March 17th, 5.00pm
I love clay. I’m always moved to see the mark made by my fingers in soil. Clay remembers their lightest touch and retains the slightest motion transmitted to it. The mildest inflection – or even hesitation – leaves its trace. It is a recorder of emotions. Hasn’t a scientist said that given the right tools, one could hear the sounds generated in the studio when a pot is being thrown because they are etched into its surface, like the first recordings of voices on wax cylinders? This highly singular property of clay is all the richer because the firing sets these marks and preserves their traces. Like the wall of a cave and pigment, or paper and pencil, clay engages with the hands and the body. I write in the soil. My pencil? A flexible blade that I bend at will. My medium? A wall of clay. I sketch in space by drawing the blade through the wall and slicing into its thickness. The line is a continuous one, just as with writing, and the volume takes form blindly, as imagined by the gesture. The form is then composed of two interlocking elements, separated by a small gap. We could say that each is a mould or an impression of the other, with a space that Marcel Duchamp defined as being ‘infra-thin’. They are born of the same gesture: the trace left by the motion of the flexible blade is all that ultimately interests me. I then sacrifice one of the two parts, which I destroy to allow the impression of the gesture to appear. Traces of energy, of tension… Like a calligrapher, I have meditated on the gesture before executing it. It is a sort of dance or ritual in which the movement is expansive, dynamic, continuous and without regrets.The goal is freeing up the sensitive impression, after a privileged moment, by emptying its material content and reducing it to a skin, then bringing it to life as if suspended in the void… and simply capturing the energy of the gesture expressed in space… This is yet another story of fullness and emptiness, which is recurrent in ceramics. It is also the story of celadon – translucent – another symbol for completeness and void: both matter and light.
“I am inspired by the urban landscapes around me, the architecture of the North and by the austere aesthetic of Flemish still-life. I like plain clay, monochrome compositions. I shape my pieces and accumulate them according to an imaginary plan, to create installations in search of the perfect balance.
I have a feeling for everyday objects, for the physical relationship we have with them (the closeness we have to them) for the way they wear out.
My work on pans enable me to confront the apparent solidity of the piece which hits the collective subconscious, with the fragility of clay.” Virginie Besengez
Virginie Besengez draws her inspiration from nature. She is interested in the movement, repetition in the landscapes that are constantly changing with the wind and the light. ‘Like a photographer I would like to capture a moment in time by creating forms and curves similar to those found in nature. The texture of the surfaces of my vessels achieved by polishing, grinding and also raku firing is very important to me.’
Although her work has been devoted to drawing, she first encountered the medium of ceramic in 2007. Ceramic has ever since given the artist an opportunity to explore new possibilities of representation. It has provided a means to re-examine and reassess the artist’s ongoing concerns on the role and nature of the work of art as an artefact.
Cathy Coëz’s three-dimensional ’Clay drawings’ and ’Porcelain drawings’ explore the compositional element of aesthetic and the nature of the ceramic medium. These drawings are organized geometrically (a circle, a disk or a square), and are made out of hundreds of pieces carefully arranged. The clay and porcelain material is tirelessly thrown on a ceramic wheel to form hundreds of unique pieces that are created to form a species of its kind. The substance of the clay, together with the inexhaustible possibility of forms and shapes it offers, has fascinated the artist ever since she started to explore the medium in 2007.
The creative process of these museums-sized pieces are initially conceived through a computer Vector Drawing Program, then each piece is methodically arranged and placed next to each other with painstaking precision. The end result is a response to an ongoing research into the nature of minimalist aesthetic and the sophisticated character of macrocosm and microcosm blend.
“In my previous silkscreen drawings, I used to work with a vast selection of colours. With my ceramic work, I am interested in the monochromatic and minimalist approach to colour, tones and shades. I focus instead on the individuality and uniqueness of each piece. For me, throwing clay is like drawing a shape. I start the process by establishing a form, then gradually organise its volume, rearrange its proportions and finalise its character. The shapes and forms I create seem to organically emerge from between my fingers.” Cathy Coëz
Cathy Coëz is a French Multi-disciplinary artist. She lives and works in Brussels, Belgium. Her artwork has been internationally exhibited in galleries and museums and is part of public and private collections.