June 21 – October 29 2023
Musée de Louviers
Place Ernest Thorel 27400 Louviers
As part of the temporary exhibition SUPERNATURE, the Musée de Louviers will present the work of artist Claude Como from 21 June to 29 October 2023.
Claude Como was born in Marseille in 1964 and lived with her father in the Ivory Coast until the age of 16. After a period in Paris, she lives and works in her hometown. She started drawing at the age of 5. It was natural for her to pursue art studies. From then on, she started to create worlds with images gathered from her memories and feelings, as well as from art history, which she continues to explore.
Claude Como’s work is characterised by a desire to order, list and catalogue. For the last 30 years he has always worked in series: the Szondi test (6 series of 48 portraits of psychopaths, 1990-1992),
Fragments agrandis d’anatomie (1996-1999), Rosacerdoce (installation of 1,000 paintings representing a rose in the Parc de Saint-Cloud greenhouse, 2004), Landscapes (2013-2016), and so on. The human, the animal, the plant, life and death are at the centre of his work, intertwining in a ‘sensory ecosystem in constant motion’.
The human, the animal, the plant, life and death are at the centre of his work, intertwining in a ‘constantly moving and reinventing sensory ecosystem’. In addition to painting, the artist explores different techniques for their plastic qualities: resin, charcoal, ceramics, wood, textiles, etc.
In late 2019, she started working with tufted wool as part of a series entitled Supernature. Tufting is a powerful technique that offers her new perspectives: armed with a tufting machine, a kind of gun that sprays wool, she creates large, sprawling works that stretch across the wall in different elements. These imaginary plant forms are almost frightening in their gigantic size, but reassuring in their crazy, dense and overflowing matter. This ‘super nature’ will occupy the Galerie des éphémères of the Musée de Louviers for the summer.
For the latter, the artist has created an installation designed to occupy a 70 m² room. With this new installation by Claude Como at the Musée de Louviers, immersive art is not a matter of augmented reality, digital design or video projection, but an invitation to take a journey into the heart of a sensual work that questions our relationship with traditional art objects, the gigantic scale of video mapping and the backlit digital images of our mobile phones… While museums are now trying to adapt to this immersive art phenomenon, following the example of the Louvre, which in 2019 offered its first virtual reality experience during an exhibition dedicated to the work of Leonardo da Vinci, the Musée de Louviers has chosen to take a step to the side and associate materiality with immersion, deliberately ignoring the notion of video images. Claude Como’s installation does not need darkness to unfold on the walls and floor. On the contrary, it needs light and people to come to life. It is like the nature that surrounds us: palpable, stimulating, lush, fragile and resistant. Claude Como, like a magician who silently transforms reality, questions us about our ability to reinvent the world in order to preserve it.
The exhibition SUPERNATURE – Claude Como is presented in the museum’s Galerie des éphémères and is divided into two parts: the first part, called ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’, presents a collection of works produced between the 1990s and the present day; the second part, dedicated to the installation ‘Supernature’, was specially designed for the Musée de Louviers. The exhibition presents more than 70 works.
Cabinet of Curiosities
Entering the world of Claude Como is like crossing the threshold of a cabinet of curiosities, where portraits and self-portraits, fragments of the human body and ‘teton vases’ mingle.
“These are portraits and self-portraits, fragments of the human body and porcelain “teton vases”, trophies and vanities, anamorphoses and erotic nudes, enigmatic landscapes and atmospheric perspectives, ceramic houses reduced to their simplest expression and images of huts in the woods, paintings inspired by the great masters and flat expanses of pure colour, childhood memories and traces of our humanity, sea animals and insects trapped in resin, pieces of rebellious or sublimated nature…” Each of the artist’s themes is explored methodically and meticulously.
Since the 1980s, Claude Como has been working in large series, drawing his inspiration – and all his creative energy – from living matter. For each series, Claude Como wanders silently through his subject, picking up fragments of reality here and there, absorbing them, working them until they are exhausted and become free forms, disengaged from all reality.
The first room of the Galerie des éphémères presents a subjective selection of these series, created between 1980 and the present day. The first series is called Szondi test (1990-1996) and is dedicated to the interpretation of 48 portraits of psychopaths. This is followed by the series Être contemporain (portraits made between 1996-2019), Corpus (1996-2010), Child in Time (1998-2011), Rosacerdoce (2000-2002), Les Trophées de la peinture (2005-2017), Cataclysmes (2011-2015), Homes (2012-2016),
Landscapes (2012-2018), Animals (2018-2020), Gaïa (2019), Supernature (from 2019).
Claude Como dedicated herself to tufting in 2019. Her first goal was to master the tufting machine, a kind of gun that sprays material. She tinkered with the tufting machine to create ‘cans’ of wool, trying to solve technical problems on her own, relentlessly experimenting with the art of creating loops of varying degrees of tightness. She made her first large loom on which she stretched a special cloth purchased in England. Initially, armed with her tufting gun and guided by her instinct, she creates directly on the stretched canvas, without having made any preparatory drawings. She does not compose the work on the canvas as it will be presented on the wall when finished, but tries to optimise the surface of the support by exploding the shapes. Colours and details appear as he puts them together. In this way, he gives free rein to his inspiration, inventing from time to time and enjoying the accidents that occur by chance. Like an upholsterer, he works on the reverse side and, thanks to his mastery of the tufting machine, she can do what he wants with the material: he plays with thicknesses, effects, curls, hairs; sometimes he integrates external elements such as fake hair. Although she works with volume and wool, she does not consider herself a sculptor or textile artist. She declares that she is and remains a painter at heart and that the art of tufting is a way for her to transcend the boundaries of the frame.
Her first tufting works were inspired by views of planes, landscapes or subjects from the great masters of painting, such as Tribute to Masters, reminiscent of Rembrandt’s The Flayed Ox, already reinterpreted by Soutine, Chagall and Bernard Buffet. He soon moved on to free, natural and colourful forms, inspired by nature: “not a desolate, dilapidated, polluted, cluttered nature, but a beneficial, reassuring, rich and radiant nature; a dreamed, idealised, invented nature” to the point of being as real as the things of this world can be. So he began a new series, which he called SUPERNATURE. At first he wanted to “proliferate everywhere” (floor, ceiling, wall), but at the beginning of this new work he preferred to remain frontal, in relation to the wall. She designed artworks composed of a mother cell and a multitude of small cells loosely inspired by organic forms. The cells are, he says, “pieces of nature that support each other until they form a coherent whole and become a testimony to nature”. Claude Como creates by pieces: one shape pulls another, the cells assemble and disassemble in a very natural way, becoming a fluid material capable of filling an entire space.
An installation created for the Musée de Louviers
In 2020, the Musée de Louviers discovered Claude Como’s tufting works on social networks. This work responds to the institution’s ambitions to promote contemporary creation, to create links with the city’s woolly past, to revisit the notion of landscape, very much present in the collections, and to recall the so-called ‘tapestries’ of the 19th century, in which the walls were entirely decorated with tapestries.
The idea was to promote contemporary art, to create links with the city’s woolly past, to revisit the notion of landscape, which is very much present in the collections, to recall the so-called ‘tapestries’ of the 19th century, in which the walls were entirely covered with paintings, and to raise public awareness of nature through art. Hence the idea of inviting the artist to create an immersive work in one of the museum rooms.
A work in which visitors could touch, move and come into contact with a sublimated nature, “unrealistically augmented and materialised”, in which all reference points of the real world were blurred. Claude Como took on the challenge of occupying the entire walls and floor of a museum room 12 metres long and 5 metres wide. A race against time was launched to design this monumental installation and create all the main rooms and the cells connecting them. Wanting to evoke an invasive nature, and in line with his constant desire not to be constrained by the law of the frame, the artist chose to move out of the exhibition space and occupy all the museum’s galleries, installing works here and there in clumps, emerging from the walls, woodwork, ceiling, skirting boards, etc. because, like plants, Claude Como’s artworks are not confined in boxes; their instinct is to spread and proliferate.
Presented in the second room of the Galerie des éphémères, Claude Como’s tufted installation is like the nature that surrounds us: palpable, stimulating, lush, fragile and resistant. Like a magician who silently transforms reality, the artist questions us on our capacity to reinvent the world in order to preserve it.