Claire Tabouret’s serene portraits unpick the relationships between childhood, adulthood, the group, the individual and the “tenderness and cannibalism” of love.
At four years old, Tabouret encountered The Water Lilies from 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.
- Solo show, Born in Mirrors, at Perrotin Gallery in Hong Kong, 2019
- SILENCE sold for $52,470 USD at Sotheby’s, 2018
- Collaboration with Yoko Ono, One day I broke a mirror, at Villa Medici, Rome, 2017
- Winner of Prix les Femmes en Or, 2014
- François Pinault first purchases Tabouret’s work, 2010
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 pallette. 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 enamelled 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. Half-way 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.
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