Claire Tabouret

b. 1981

Claire Tabouret is a French-born, Los Angeles-based artist whose moody figurative paintings and sculptures are inspired from magazine images, history books, archival photographs, and the internet. In single portraits or group scenes, she transforms historical snapshots from the past by means of her expressive brushwork and electric pigments. For her sculptures, she takes inspiration from the poses of her painted figures and works them into clay figures, which are then cast in bronze.

She studied at Cooper Union and the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. She was not able to support herself as an artist for five years after graduation and instead worked as a waitress and as a model.  She liked modeling since she was still in the art world and was able to be silent.

She first painted scenes of aquatic diurnal and nocturnal landscapes before she began painting people. Her landscape paintings were often washed in color fields, evoking the feeling that this was not a specific site but rather a place that could be anywhere. Later on – in her return to landscape painting – she referenced artists from the past. She was inspired by Morandi’s landscapes and was engaged with the natural world of Vuillard. For her appropriated depictions of the natural world, she painted with acrylic paint on sumptuous faux fur fabric as seen in her “Au Bois d’Amour’ exhibition at ICA Miami. One of her paintings on this lush fabric “Paysages d’interieurs (vert) was made into a wool and silk tapestry by the Odabashian weavers of India.

Her paintings of people show single portraits, couples, or groups of people posed and looking straight ahead.  Sometimes her figures are solitary portraits as seen in her many self-portraits.

From 2012 through 2014, Tabouret painted herself in ink on paper. She made more than 700 self-portraits in a loose, textured style. She felt “that this ritual helped create a bubble around me.” During this time she also appropriated images found online and made paintings of adolescents looking directly at the viewer. In addition, she painted portraits of young girls with paint smeared across their faces. “Makeup, when it is not neatly applied can be disturbing, and evoke madness, or brutality.”  

There are group portraits of children and women standing or sitting together in formal poses, taken from photographs that are over a hundred years old. In one of her paintings she uses a photograph of four siblings from a very early era and puts them in a garden, imagined by her. However, some of her paintings do show figures interacting with one another: wrestling, dancing, performing, or kissing in works that can be both nostalgic or slightly ominous.

Masks, makeup, and costumes recur in her work. Her 2016 “The Last Day” is a group portrait of children in costumes and is accented with tinges of radioactive green paint in a disquieting scene. She starts her large-scale canvases with a primary fluorescent layer of paint and then adds dark tones and color fields that allow a small amount of the underlying neon paint to shine through. This use of oil and acrylic in high contrast color palettes has become her defining style.

In 2017, Tabouret created an immersive mural, an imagined environment inside the former chapel at Fabregues Castle in Provence. “It’s a completely immersive experience,” Tabouret says of the walls and ceiling covered with images of children in traditional dress.

Her work is in the permanent collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Musee des Beaux Arts de Montreal, Perez Art Museum Miami, and Yuz Museum in Shanghai,  Institute of Contemporary Art Miami, and the Dallas Museum of Art, Columbus Museum of Art, Centre George Pompidou Paris; and Tel Aviv Museum of Art, among others. 

More here.

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