The work of Caroline Achaintre bears testimony to the artist’s atypical career, which led her from a blacksmith’s workshop in Germany to the Textile Department at Goldsmiths College in London, as well as to her eclectic inspirations, which range from the assertive primitivism of Die Brücke to the postmodern design of the Memphis group. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that Achaintre’s installations, where large coloured rugs are in dialogue with anthropomorphic sculptures, and amphibian heads coexist with fetishistic or carnivalesque masks, are reminiscent of shop-window displays and ethnographic cabinets alike.
Achaintre’s works are rooted in post-war British sculpture as much as in German expressionism, Commedia dell’arte, native arts and urban cultures (gothic rock and metal music, B movies, science fiction). Made using traditional techniques such as tufting, ceramics or basketry, they are invariably based on the artist’s preparatory drawings. Achaintre’s practice is marked by a constant shift between planeness and three-dimensionality, and operates with various concepts of time, both long – as in her tufted wool works or her wicker sculptures, for instance, which are transposed from drawing to canvas and can take several weeks to complete – and short – as in her watercolours or ceramics, which result from more instinctive or spontaneous gestures.
In either case, the artist’s experimental approach always leaves room for uncertainty regarding the result, for instance when she creates pieces ‘blindly’ by tufting the wool from the backside of the canvas using a wool gun, or when she plays with the permeability of the material and the colours of her ceramics, whose appearance inevitably changes during the firing. Risk, just as direct physical contact with matter, forms an integral part of Achaintre’s work process.
Caroline Achaintre (born in Toulouse in 1969), lives and works in London. Most recently, her work has been presented in solo exhibitions at Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop, Edinburgh; Dortmunder Kunstverein, Dortmund (both 2019); and De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea (2018).
Caroline Achaintre is represented by Arcade, London and Brussels, and by Art: Concept, Paris.
Curator: Alice Motard
Entitled Permanente, the exhibition at CAPC is the final stage of a travelling project conceived in cooperation with Belvedere 21, Vienna; MO.CO. Panacée, Montpellier; and Fondazione Giuliani, Rome.