Claire Tabouret

Enigmatic portraits reveal layers of nostalgia, intimacy and light.

Claire Tabouret was born in 1981 in Pertuis, France, and is currently based in Los Angeles, USA.

Did you know?

At four years old, the artist encountered The Water Lilies from Claude Monet’s Nymphéas series and later reflected that this early experience kindled her need to paint. “I always wanted to be a painter. That’s the only thing I’ve never doubted.”

Career

French billionaire François Pinault has consistently added her work to his collection since 2010. She was also the winner of Prix Les Femmes en Or in 2014, and in 2018 her painting Silence was purchased for $52,470 USD at Sotheby’s auction in London.

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Collaborations with this artist

Practice overview

Claire Tabouret’s layered, impressionistic portraits explore love, inner conflict and collective psychology. In 2012, she began documenting her face daily with ink on rice paper. Each self-portrait was vastly different — the repeated routine paradoxically revealing how identity constantly changes. These initial studies developed into larger canvases of both individuals and groups, painted with oil and acrylic in high contrast colour palettes. This has become Tabouret’s defining style. The works are based on a range of vintage photographs, particularly imagery of Débutante balls, a cultural tradition founded in the 1600s which sees middle-class women celebrate ‘coming-of-age.’ This sense of cultural nostalgia also manifests in melancholy renditions of characters like Snow White and Peter Pan.

Tabouret is led by intuition: “I do no thinking, these are my hands.” But via this approach the artist uncovers subconscious allegorical meanings. Many of the figures, for example, are framed by landscapes made of broad luminescent washes inspired by the sunlight in LA where Tabouret relocated in 2015. On canvas however, these settings are intentionally ambiguous, neither physical nor geographical. Instead, the landscapes represent the artist’s “mental space.” Another central motif is the image of two men locked into each others’ shoulders, half-way between an embrace and a fight. For Tabouret, their struggling bodies symbolise perhaps the most enduring psychological battle — falling in love. Eerie and mysterious, the works echo the unknowable depths of the human mind.

“I always wanted to be a painter. That’s the only thing I’ve never doubted.”Claire Tabouret