At the initiative of the Ateliers d’Art de France who are organising the 44th general assembly of the Académie international de la céramique (AIC), Les Arts Décoratifs, Sèvres – City of Ceramics, the galerie Collection and around forty galleries and cultural centres proposed exhibitions and retrospectives in September 2010, in Paris, so as to reveal the richness of contemporary ceramic design.
“Ceramic Tours, the French contemporary scene” commissioned by Frédéric Bodet at the Arts Décoratifs, which ran until the 20th February 2011, was a leg of this tour not to be ignored.
It brought together 90 designers from the contemporary scene and presented both an exhibition and a programme within the museum’s permanent collections. Arranged around the themes of imaginary landscape, the body and its metaphors and revisiting the past through decor, this remarkable display invited its audience on a journey... centred on clay. Frédéric Bodet was its valued guide.
Frédéric Bodet: “Working with clay is quite a physical task which requires a lot of concentration, and energy. All nervous fluxes go into the body movements to shape the clay and the sculpture. Clay is a fluid material which resists construction; there are questions of maintenance when it comes to the piece’s framework, which need to be addressed before firing. Then the firing transforms the initial work. It’s a material that requires a lot of thought.”
The Themes of the Exhibition: An imaginary landscape
Frédéric Bodet: “The themes are themes that I had already put in place at a biennial in Chateauroux in 2005. The principal of imaginary landscape is to transcribe an idea of landscape, to be inspired by one’s territory and make a sculpture from that. Here, artists and designers reinterpret natural forms in an often radical and conceptual way. Linked to a euphoric and anguished world of imagination, clay can also connote death or burial. It’s been at the heart of mankind’s concerns forever. It’s a material which is forever being updated, despite its primitiveness: a permanent feature tied to human imagination.
In the programme of ancient collections, we come across landscape again. It transformed the central exhibition space into somewhere packed with installations and sculptures. The clay can be modelled, untreated or refined. The landscape altarpieces, by Philippe Godgridge, an artist-come-farmer, revives the colours of medieval work. It’s something done specifically for this room. These are emotive pieces, which express the rural landscape...
At the crossover of fine art, design and artisanal practice, this exhibition invited artists, designers, ceramists but also teachers of the beaux-arts, like Anne Rochette or Vincent Barré. Often considered as merely arts and crafts, ceramics was eliminated from fine art teaching and it’s a real shame – it’s still the first material for sculpture...”
The Body and its Metaphors
Frédéric Bodet: "The exhibition is deliberately orientated around young French design. A room of bodies explores the obsessive relations that mankind has always maintained with ceramic objects or even raw clay. Among others, there’s Valérie Delarue, whose current work presented in a video is closely connected to the notion of visual performance. Farida Le Suavé’s, Elsa Sahal’s or even couturier Gustavo Lins’ work has a sensual approach in porcelain. Caroline Rennequin works with bags by fashion designer, Jérôme Dreyfus, reconstructing them in scraps of fired clay."
Revisiting the Past through Decor
Frédéric Bodet: "Ceramic Tours, as an exhibition, was more dedicated to sculptures and installations rather than individual objects, and challenged the limits of art and design, the typologies of usage and objects of contemplation."