Claudia Comte

Claudia Comte captures the essence of nature in her undulating sculptures, rhythmic abstraction and immersive installations.

Comte is best known for her abstract wood sculptures that give modernist forms a contemporary twist. The sculptures are often presented in groups as large-scale installations, along with patterned monochrome murals reminiscent of Op Art, and sometimes accompanied by performance.

Select Achievements
  • Work in collections inc. MoMA, New York, Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore
  • Solo show, I Have Grown Taller from Standing with Trees at Copenhagen Contemporary, Copenhagen, 2019
  • Solo show, How to Grow and Still Stay the Same Shape at Castello di Rivoli, Turin, 2019
  • Solo show, When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth at König Galerie, Berlin, 2018
  • Solo show, 10 Rooms, 40 Walls, 1059 m2 at Kunstmuseum Luzern, Luzern, 2017
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Commissioned by TBA21–Academy for the Alligator Head Foundation. Photo: Retts Wood, Jamaica 2019

Comte’s process is incredibly laborious: she carves wood using a chainsaw, and then sands and finishes the surface. The works have timeless elegance, but are always imbued with a sense of playfulness. Motifs such as cacti, snake-like wiggles, and cartoon speech bubbles pop up throughout her works, as well as repeated semi-circles that function as a signature representing her initials, CC. Through a systematic approach to her work, Comte investigates humankind’s place within the global ecosystem, as both a collective species and as individual beings.

“Art makes you think… Too many people are watching TV and not thinking for themselves”

Much of Comte’s oeuvre is site-specific, from large outdoor marble sculptures such as Skinny Kenny (2018), to concrete cacti at the bottom of the ocean in Aurélien (Underwater Cacti) (2019). Curves and Zigzags is a 30 metre-long free standing wall, installed temporarily in the mountains of Palm Springs in 2017. The bright white background of the wall is punctuated by black geometric zig-zags which gradually morph horizontally into an organic wave pattern — the dizzying monochrome design reminiscent of a Bridget Riley composition. The stark colour palette is juxtaposed against the textures of the natural landscape, and the panoramic shape of the work is inserted perfectly into the frame of the mountains. Part painting, part sculpture, Curves and Zigzags is simultaneously at odds with, and congruous to its surroundings — a perfect balance of disruption and harmony. 

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Photo: Retts Wood, Jamaica 2019
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Photo: Studio Claudia Comte
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Photo: Studio Claudia Comte
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Photo: Studio Claudia Comte

Like nature itself, Comte visualises her organic forms through systems, geometry and mathematics. When she embarks on a new installation, she strategically designs a floor-plan, carefully responding to the architecture of the space. She also regularly uses technology such as 3D scanning and digital rendering to create her works. Moreover, the grid structures, monochrome patterns and circular motifs in her paintings, all resemble life on a molecular level: the peak and trough of a sound wave, or the cellular structure of plant life. In this way, Comte places the viewer — particularly in her installations — as a part of the ecosystem of her own practice. Thus, through her work, Comte breaks down the perceived boundaries between art and science, chaos and order, the natural and the artificial, and reminds her viewer that we, as a global community and as individuals, have power, responsibility and obsolescence, all at the same time.

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