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homo faber: 70,000 handmade ceramic pieces compose grégoire scalabre's monumental sculpture

THE FINALE METAMORPHOSES OF THETIS BY GRÉGOIRE SCALABRE

 

On the occasion of the Porcelain Virtuosity exhibition at Homo Faber 2022 in Venice, French sculptor and ceramist Grégoire Scalabre presents a monumental 2-meter-high sculpture composed of 70,000 handmade pieces of ceramic. Dubbed The Finale Metamorphoses of Thetis, the piece sees the miniatures assembled on a large, inclined, double-walled crucible, simulating a sub-aquatic swarm, which seems to levitate on its base.

 

Each piece is turned one by one by Grégoire Scalabre and individually enameled using a variety of green shades chosen from the Manufacture de Sèvres palette. ‘Grégoire Scalabre is one of the greatest ceramicists contributing to the renewal of contemporary ceramics,’ said David Caméo, General Director of the Manufacture Nationale de Sèvres. ‘His sculptures are considered by some to be closer to fine art and design; they are, above all, the work of an accomplished sculptor.’

homo faber: 70,000 handmade ceramic pieces compose grégoire scalabre's monumental sculpture
image © designboom

 

GREEK MYTHOLOGY SERVED AS INSPIRATION

 

During his residency at Sèvres in 2011, French sculptor and ceramist Grégoire Scalabre created a work entitled Astrèe, to which he owes his current international recognition in the field of sculpture. Astrèe is composed of approximately 15,000 miniature porcelain vases on a monumental vortex of expanded foam covered with metal. This extraordinary porcelain, like a coral reef, evoked the journey of Chinese porcelain to Europe in the 18th century and the galleons of the Compagnie des Indes who traded in it – one of them in particular, baptized Astrèe, perished at the sea.

 

For the Homo Faber event, Scalabre created a new chapter of this work by drawing inspiration from Greek mythology to create an accumulative composition that emerges from the depths of the Venetian lagoon. It represents Thetis, a young sea nymph, who is trying in vain to escape from marriage with a mortal, imposed by Zeus.

homo faber: 70,000 handmade ceramic pieces compose grégoire scalabre's monumental sculpture
image © designboom

 

Grégoire Scalabre uses a wide variety of registers of expression, in terms of size, shape and material, sometimes even to the point of confronting them in the same work. He likes to play on a very wide range, from the miniature to the monumental, from dissemination to accumulation. The Final Metamorphosis of Thetis is the perfect illustration of this game of paradoxical combinations.

homo faber: 70,000 handmade ceramic pieces compose grégoire scalabre's monumental sculpture
images by charles de borggraef unless otherwise noted

 

Given the monumental size that Grégoire Scalabre imagined for his ceramic work The Final Metamorphosis of Thetis (2 meters high, 1 meter 60 in diameter and weighing 450 kilos), the production of the piece itself was a real technical feat. Beyond its volume and weight, the artwork possesses an exceptional dimension simply because it is made up of 70,000 ceramic pieces turned one by one, by hand, by the artist; this alone represents a colossal effort over several months.

homo faber: 70,000 handmade ceramic pieces compose grégoire scalabre's monumental sculpture

 

At Homo Faber 2022, the Porcelain Virtuosity exhibition presented an unprecedented selection of porcelain from Europe and Japan, revealed by contemporary sculptors and renowned manufacturers. The show demonstrated the inventiveness, innovative approaches and contemporary savoir-faire used in porcelain craftsmanship.

 

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