My artistic work is informed by my everyday experiences and observations. It is confessional. In this sense, I won’t say that I have distinct « themes », I prefer to see «lines of research» or "studies", which for me is more random and less circumscribed. In short, I’m working with obsessions (newly found or long-term) that I have for certain forms, colours and objects etc. which compose and make up the different territories that I attempt to create. This « scopic drive » that I have for certain forms/objects, which in my view, silently designate the places they form, leads me today to reflect plastically on their identities, that which constitutes them, their origins and their meanings. Filled with a desire to elude conventional forms and their functions, I displace, superimpose or combine them, in an attempt to blur the boundaries between different areas of perception: particularly between functional and decorative. I attempt to highlight the tension existing between the worlds of industry and craftsmanship. With this intention of creating hybrid objects, I question, always in a poetic and personal way, the status of the form as well as the sign, their constitution, their sphere of distribution, their function, their use, and the relation one can establish with them.
My sources of inspiration are manifold. The forms and concepts which I try to re-visit via sculpture and installation offer a labyrinthine of visual pathways, combining; architecture, biology, geology, machinery and objects of all sorts, from popular culture or elsewhere. Succinctly, in terms of artists references, I have a huge fascination for the work (artistic and theoretical) of certain artists from Supports/Surfaces’s group (69'-73') in France, which are distinguished by a “new approach”, which provides a special importance to materials, creative gesture and the final work, all on an equal platform, with the subject taking a back seat. Around the same time in the United States, Among others , I am interest in the work of Carl Andre, specifically for his attractiveness for the physical property of materials that he used and his own way to investigate the exhibition’s space. Without doubt, what I like in these Supports/Surfaces and certain American minimalist artists, is their relation to the space and the attempt to deconstruct the conventions of installation in institutionalised spaces. Like many artists from around this time and close to these « movements », I try to sign up (in my own way) within this « heritage » and make a point to question the boundary between space and matter, and find a way to group the « components » together and make one set. Concerning the artists more « contemporary of my time », and who for me, they enrol in this « school of thought », I’ll say that I appreciate undeniably the poetic’s works of Katinka Bock, Daniel Pontoreau, Anne de Vries, Bojan Šarčević, Sophie Bueno-Bouteiller, or even David Jablonowski, Helen Marten and Nairy Baghramian as well. This selection of artists highlight, in my opinion, the critical observations on the evolution of the sculpture made by Rosalind Krauss (amongst other). And at the same time, they exemplify this thoughtful of Henri Focillion in Vie des formes (1934, "The Life of Forms »), a book forming part of my important bedside books, whose content is focus on the form and its definition, its attitude in the space and the poetics that emerge. The space and how it can be configured and take shape, is a challenge quite important within my practice. That’s why I have named these artists, who in my view, have an exemplary work on this issues. The exhibition space is regulated by certain rules of play. In my case, it is a game of composition and construction of the space, both theoretical and empirical, where, even while I am playing the game of positioning and hanging, I try to underline not only the attitude of the objects in an ensemble (i.e. the interaction of forms within a specific territory) but also the physical qualities of the materials used, and their mythical connotations. My “sets” become invitations to wander with-in the « landscapes » that I construct. Set landscapes are both closed and open, inviting not just a simple glance, but a longer look towards the inside of things. An ensemble/“set” which, in the dynamic of a defined spatiality, makes connections between things and which is without a doubt predisposed to conversation.
Having an artistic practice oriented toward the ceramic field, I cannot forget to quote certain names which are extremely important for me, such as : Betty Woodman, Daniel Pontoreau, Ron Nagle, Peter Voulkos or even certain Japanese ceramists like Yasuo Hayashi and Nakamura Kimpei. These few ceramists that I might write pages and pages on why I admire them so much, they are still for me, major sources of inspiration about their manner (to varying degrees) always ready to flout convention in ceramic’s field.
I don’t know what makes my work « specific ». Its strength and maybe, what makes it different than the others, is simply my own translation and interpretation of the things that I see and experience. My work is first of all, instinctive. My « intentions », not to say my « subjects », are derived from individual experiences that I try to translate through sculptural work and installation. My work, therefore, is an attempt to reveal a transcribed world, or fantasized place. A composed, stratified world by elements which attract my gaze and push me to work on them as « studies ». A composition, where I try always to ensure that the concept doesn’t prevail over its form. For me, this bias can be envisaged as a kind of « resistance » facing an art scene which is, sometime, more inclined to do the opposite.
The other feature point on my work is, the way in which I work the ceramic (my material of choice), and my own way to show it. The objects that I create are rarely autonomous objects presented on simple pedestals, but rather as « units » forming a set, sometime modular, with their own system of presentation. The idea, is to try to simultaneously create a ceramic “set” and to think about their structure of reception. My intention at the end is to have a specific support designed for them and read the whole like a total.
Like I said before, I have no « themes ». My « studies » of forms and objects appear by random manner, according to the meetings that I’m doing. Initially this body of research is formed by information gathering, whether through the found image, image pickup or by reproducing objects and elements of all kinds. These « reports » or « carry-overs » are made up of fragments or snippets, which in their existence are intrinsically linked to this organization of the territories which I contemplate. My artistic practice essentially is engaged in the field of ceramics. Appreciative of the many ways of treating and modelling clay, and enchanted by its various characteristics, I relish its great power to induce voluntary aphasia, stimulating the senses, especially the sense of touch. For me ceramics is the means by which form is continually inventing itself as an experience; the tangible experience of an often ambiguous relationship between my hands and matter, between my imagination and physical space. For me, therefore, the imaginative process nearly always has its source in this medium with its multiple and varied qualities and inherent energy before being fixed by form, a form immanent in the instant and which opens empirically the poetic dimension of the finished object.
My goal/dream is simple: continue to develop my practice for as long as possible. To enrich more my work through new experiences, either both in my workspace and through exhibitions. I would like to spread my work as far as possible, showing in new spaces and contexts. I would like to continue to focus on this « gymnastics » or « split » that I try to undertake and that combine sculpture (ceramic) and installation. Supporting my focus of detecting and questioning the space by replaying it. In a similar manner to landscape painters who rearrange nature, or interior designers who domesticate vacant spaces. I would like to point more the finger at the time which is involved, that of thought, that of the forms and objects modulation. Where time and the space are not only intrinsically linked, but also suspended. My motivation would therefore be, not only, try to set scenes or stage objects, but also each time to solve a problem, giving a conclusive solution to a tangle of information: "mobilizing a space". In short, I would like to continue to create particular atmospheres, characterized by the heterogeneity of the elements of a “whole”. A “whole” built up by the balance of masses, the variation of light and shadow, and made manifest in patches and touches. “Architectured” or " organic" forms, sometimes dependent on function, sometimes on a code or a sign. The shapes that I wish to compose and structure, would create every time new landscapes, which would act as a set of spatial clues and work as a « system » ; a spatial logic, enigmatic at first glance perhaps, but full of suggestion and promise.
Baptiste Charneux was born in 1991, in Charleville-Mézières (France). He is an French visual artist living and working in Prague (Czech Republic). He graduated (with honors) from the National Fine Arts Academy in Caen in 2016.
Exhibition's text by Joël Riff for the solo exhibition "Facades and their Beasts" at FUTURA, 2018, Prague, Czech Republic.
Exhibition’s catalogue of Le silence n’est pas la simple absence de bruit at L'Abbaye-Aux-Dames in Caen.
A text by Andrea Rodriguez Novoa for the group exhibition « Le silence n'est pas la simple absence de bruit » ( Silence is not the absence of noise) in the Abbaye-aux-dames, 2016, Caen, France.