Claire Tabouret

Enigmatic portraits reveal layers of nostalgia, intimacy and light.

Claire Tabouret holding a thick paintbrush up to a green canvas and adding outlines
pile of photographs on a white surface with paint pots and tools
Claire Tabouret leaning on a wooden chest next to a large painting on the wall
6 images

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

Career

She was 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.

Collectors

French billionaire François Pinault has consistently added her work to his collection since 2010, when he invited her to exhibit at the Palazzo Grassi foundation in Venice, Italy.

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Practice overview

At four years old, Tabouret encountered The Water Lilies (1914-1926) from Claude Monet’s Nymphéas series. Overwhelmed by the work, this early experience kindled her need to paint, later reflecting that “I always wanted to be a painter. That’s the only thing I’ve never doubted.” In 2012, Tabouret moved to China for the Prix Yishu 8 residency where she began documenting her face daily with ink on rice paper. Obscured by layers of black liquid, and often missing large portions of the face entirely, the self-portraits were different each day: the repetition of the same routine paradoxically revealing the relentless shift and flow of identity. From these initial studies, Tabouret’s works developed into portraits of individuals and groups, and she became famous for the characters’ arresting expressions, and her highly contrasted colour palette. With a raft of esteemed solo shows including at the Galerie Almine Rech in Paris, and Perrotin in Hong Kong, significant auction results at Sotheby’s, and works now held in collections like that of François Pinault, Tabouret is swiftly moving far beyond being an important emerging talent.

Tabouret’s 2018 solo exhibition, Les Veilleurs at Collection Lambert in Avignon, was a powerful selection of large-scale paintings, smaller portraits and individual busts made in enameled terracotta. The Red Carnival (2015), a highlight painting of the show, depicts a cluster of children dressed in various costumes such as clowns, princesses, Snow White, and Peter Pan. Together, they stand staring directly out of the painting. The frozen group, with hunched postures and blank faces, appear trapped in a scene that they do not want to be a part of; stuck in a limbo between the supposedly unburdened life of a child and the impending disappointment of adulthood.

Tabouret’s paintings explore experiences of inner conflict and love. These themes were central to her 2018 solo show, I am crying because you are not crying, which was presented in two parts: at the Almine Rech Gallery in Paris, and at Picasso’s summer home, Château de Boisgeloup. Broad washes of luminescent greens, blues and yellows present ambiguous landscapes that elevate her works to an environment that is neither physical nor geographical. Instead, as Tabouret describes, “tragedy plays out in a mental space and no longer in a landscape.” Throughout the show, the motif of two men locked into each others’ shoulders is repeated. Halfway between a fight and an embrace, their struggling bodies uncover an enduring psychological battle, and the ebb and flow of falling in love. Delving into the contemporary psyche, and taking on binaries of self and other, love and loss, Tabouret’s work is one of the most exciting new forces in the art world.

"Artists tend to forget what we're looking for. We're just stuck to the addiction."Claire Tabouret