A new critical reading of key dimensions of the Los Angeles-based French artist's work.
The remarkable survey exhibition curated by Kathryn Weir in which this new monograph is based explores multiple transformations: of self, other, collective identities, struggle, release, refuge. A powerful and unexpected dialogue is created with a number of vernacular devotional objects drawn from archaeological and liturgical collections in Italy, invoking an ambivalent threshold in Tabouret's practice, a portal into multiple temporalities and subjectivities through which to consider alternative relationships amongst human beings, and between human beings and their environment, in the face of ecological and social crises and in communication with the supernatural.
Across 25 works by Tabouret—the earliest from 2008 but drawn mostly from the last decade of the artist's multifaceted practice—the exhibition articulates various structures and fluidities existing within subjectivity and constructed identities through paintings, sculpture, video and works on paper. Errant subjectivities and magical materialism constitute thematic axes of the exhibition. Gradually, a suspended potential and metaphysical friction inscribed in the works comes to the fore through associations interior and exterior, material and spiritual, visible and invisible.
An enigmatic language of ritual and repetition in Tabouret's amniotic worlds unfolds mysterious states of consciousness and entangles individual identity in broader forces. In the exhibition, a doubled and multiple condition of the self is explored also in relation to fertility and motherhood, notably through the inclusion of two Madri of Capua, celebrated ex voto sculptures carved in volcanic tuff during the period from 500 - 200 BC, a magical presence that introduces a renewed material connection to the earth. Processes of incarnation and transfiguration, monstrous and inexplicable creatures, all are linked in a miraculous possibility of transformation. As Hélène Cixous wrote in The laugh of the Medusa (1975), "I am spacious singing Flesh: onto which is grafted no one knows which I—which masculine or feminine, more or less human, but above all living, because changing, I."
"The canvas, like a mirror, throws back the question of how subjects are shaped in relation to the interior worlds and associations of the artist. Consistently across different bodies of work, Tabouret questions the structures and fluidities that exist within subjectivity and constructed identities, underlining multiple levels of transformation: of self, other, collective identities, of attempts to understand these in relation to gender and cultural backgrounds. She stages playful escapes, toying with costume, makeup, markers of horror, power, and adventure."
—Kathryn Weir, curator
Published on the occasion of the eponymous exhibition curated by Kathryn Weir at Palazzo Cavanis, Venice, from 23 April to 27 November, 2022, collateral Event of the 59th international art exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia.
Claire Tabouret (born 1981 in France, lives and works in Los Angeles) studied at the École des Beaux-Arts, Paris. Motivated by a sensitivity to the passing of time and the floodgates of vulnerability opened by human relationships, Tabouret's painting
practice is paced between periods of productive urgency and quiet reflection, and animated by layers, fabrics, and full, loose brushstrokes. Her hydrous palette is suspended somewhere in the ether between the synthetic hues of makeup and subdued tones of the earth, simultaneously referencing the natural and artificial ingredients of representation. Tableaux depicting bodies in confrontation, portraits, paintings of assemblies of people from young debutants to migrants at sea, and landscapes are often washed in color fields, alternately evoking the possibility of anywhere and site specificity. For her monotypes, Tabouret utilizes the phantom stains left by the press to develop transparency and opacity in her portrayals of conflict, sexuality, and desire.