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Sylvain Rieu-Piquet | Short-Lived Love

7th July 2022

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Carpenters Workshop Gallery presents the digital exhibition Short-Lived Love, by the French multidisciplinary artist Sylvain Rieu-Piquet.

The exhibition centres on the hybrid forms of Rieu-Piquet’s ceramic vessels and bronze mirrors. A selection of works from the digital exhibition will also be on display at Carpenters Workshop Gallery Paris. Rieu-Piquet’s ceramic vases exude an abstract organic imagery, yet the artist defines himself as neither a ceramicist, nor inspired by nature. He draws inspiration only from his own imagination, and chooses to work with clay as its plasticity is the ideal medium through which to express his visionary forms. The designs of each vase fluidly cycle between various states of creation and deconstruction. Rieu-Piquet’s appreciation of botanical literature give his floral motifs philosophical and psychological significance, whereas other vases incorporate oceanic and coral-like imagery, as if artefacts from lost civilisations on the sea floor.

Experiments with glazes, as well as firing the clay at low temperatures, provide unexpected results and visual juxtapositions between matt, translucent, and reflective finishes. The artist allows naivety to guide his tactile process, relying more on instinct than experience. However, fractures and folds push the clay to its breaking point, revealing Rieu-Piquet’s mastery over the material.

His mirrors convey the same appreciation for winding forms, born from Rieu-Piquet’s prior work as a successful illustrator. Details and shapes are sketched out, lead by the artist’s emotional explorations and his affinity with the Art Nouveau movement. Rieu-Piquet’s densely detailed artworks operate on both a micro and macroscopic level, sculptural manifestations of the artist’s subconscious.

Mirror Bronze 1

To achieve the bronze finish of the mirror required a particularly demanding welding and carving skill in order to translate the finesse and precision of the initial wax model. The bronze of the mirror is tinted by hand in a slightly golden tone, which unifies the object and reinforces its uniqueness. The ornamental language of the piece can be found between the vegetable and animal kingdoms, in an indefinite mixture of lianas, roots, feathers and snake skins, give the piece a dreamlike formation.

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SLL 22 Vessel 2

The SLL Vessel 2 is the most figurative piece of the collection. A nest of grass snakes, covered in crackled black enamel are visible gliding along the inside of the vase. The ceramic is left naked, as if raw.
The tears in the earth, the puncture, use of mud, rock and mold evoke a desolate but sublimated landscape.

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SLL 22 Vessel 5

The SLL Vessel 5 is sculpted into a spiral movement, with large openings that lighten the overall structure. The odd translucid and matte finish is created by blue enamel cooked at a low temperature. The variations in texture, general lightness in the movement and micro undulations in the engravings give a sense of the aquatic fluidity.

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SLL 22 Vessel 6

The SLL Vessel 6’s basin is collapsed on the sides, to the limit of being broken, to uncover most of its interior. The light pink tone is obtained by a warm patina made mostly of iron; a technique previously unexplored in ceramics. The work holds tension between two extreme states – a brutal interior unveiled by a finely chiselled exterior.

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SLL 22 Vessel 8

The shape and texture of the SLL Vessel 8 are inconsistent throughout the piece. The outside of the ceramic is almost naked, whilst the interior surface is treated like a painting with large strokes of paint and melted crystal. The green, muddy and grey tints evoke a romanticised decomposition.

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SLL 22 Vessel 9

The basin of the SLL Vessel 9 opens onto an interior covered with Egyptian paste, a very special ceramic that enamels itself at low temperature. During antiquity, it was used to make jewellery. Particularly unstable, it is never used on such a large surface, its intense turquoise colour calls to the Mediterranean imagination.

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SLL 22 Vessel 11

The spiral formation of the SLL Vessel 11 begins at the core and unwinds as it creeps upwards. This results in the weight of the ceramic focused at its base, lightening towards upper edges: ultra-dense enamel on the inside to hot patinas usually dedicated to bronze work, increasingly soft and transparent. It feels like a refinement emerging from chaos, from molten lava.

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SLL 22 Vessel 12

The wide and flexible flare of SLL Vessel 12 reveals a dark interior. The black colour is obtained by an iron-based patina, charred with a blowtorch. The vase seems to come out of the fire, returning to the roots of ceramics.

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SLL 22 Vessel 13

The marbled earth is covered with a blue enamel baked at low temperature, which gives it the SLL Vessel 13 this unusual matte and translucent finish. Colour highlights are applied with hot patina techniques, a technique usually reserved for metalwork. The basin seems to consist of a piece of reef, where textures of coral, anemone, and algae in movement mingle.

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SLL 22 Vessel 14

The supple, open shape of the SLL Vessel 14 is minimally enamelled, to highlight the subtle gray variations of the mixed earths. A kind of dust lines the interior for a finish that is both raw and velvety. A Greek vestige whose ornaments would have been eroded and covered with marine residues

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SLL 22 Vessel 15

The surface of SLL Vessel 15 is almost bare other than pastel colours added giving it a sense of calm . The blue is obtained by a porcelain tinted in the mass, and the enamel inside is applied in powder, which creates a kind of foam. Inclusions of glass in the earth bring small more intense texture that can be felt at the touch.

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SLL 22 Vessel 16

The elements that make SLL Vessel 16 are a combination of spiral and petals. The rust patina, usually reserved for metal work, freezes the textures on the body of the vase. This basin is a marriage between a fossil and a stone rose.

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SLL 22 Vessel 17

SLL Vessel 17 is both modelled and torn. The combination of cracks and mixed earths bring forwards a rich and quite unusual texture is felt from While the exterior is almost rocky, the interior of the piece is lined with a wide variety of glazes, with colours and shines that allude to a cave.

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