Ceramic Sculpture Series Interrogates Life’s Biggest Oppositions

French multidisciplinary contemporary artist Juliette Clovis‘s fascinating series of morphed human busts, sculpted from fine porcelain, is the most uncanny art you’ll see all day. Living and working in Bordeaux, with a residency at Manufacture La Seynie (the oldest Limoges porcelain manufacturer, founded in 1744), Juliette has three key focuses in her ceramic work – the dialogues between life and death, tradition and modernity, and humanity and nature.

Memento mori 2

Imposing, graceful shapes and appendages are added to human busts made from fine translucent Limoges porcelain fired at 1400 °, sometimes decorated in the traditional fashion with on-glaze paint in a variety of colours. This mixture of traditional materials and processes cuts across Juliette’s firmly contemporary focus, creating a intersection that sets her fascinating work apart. Inspired by Hitchcock, with sensually evocative natural details, her ceramic busts are complex and provocative pieces birthing new visions of the human form that are both progressions and corruptions of the familiar body.

Limoges porcelain – White glaze and white biscuit
3,7×13,3×9 in. 


The Plus: How did you originally get into ceramics?
Juliette Clovis:
I was working with two dimensional materials, vinyl and plexiglas, for more than ten years before I began working with ceramics. I wanted to make a break with these very contemporary materials and get back to a more traditional and natural medium.

TP: How do you convey messages with your plastic art?
I try to convert messages and words by using emotions. You can’t use words, but you can transmit an emotion or tell a story using forms and characters. I don’t think much of my work needs words to be understood.

TP: What are you inspired by? How do you stay fresh?
I have 2 main inspirations: Nature and History, and then I add these inspirations to my own feelings, emotions and questions.

TP: Could you take us through them?
I have always been fascinated by the wild beauty of Nature around me and during my different trips. I always draw inspiration from it to create human jungles, and to explore the wild aspect of the human body. I like questioning the balance of power between Humans and Nature.

TP: And History?
For the historical influences, I draw my inspiration from different periods and different cultures : XVIII century Saxe and French porcelain of course, but also China – the blue and white porcelain of the Ming Dynasty, for its sobriety and the simplicity of the lines, and later the Kangxi period. I also admire the detail and finesse of Imari-style Japonese porcelain.

TP: How would you describe your style?
I suppose my style is somewhere between baroque, classical, and contemporary expressions.

TP: What sort of artists do you admire, or have influenced you?
If I had to name only one artist; it would be Jerome Bosch; the Dutch Renaissance painter. I love his madness. From contemporary artists: Ai Weiwei and Jan Fabre for their freedom and non-confomity; Chiharu Shiota for her poetry; Jaume Plensa for the serenity of his characters. For ceramic artists: Ah Xian, of course, and Johan Creten for the emotional beauty of his work.

TP: Any tips for newcomers hoping to be a ceramist?
Be patient and work hard!

TP: What’s coming up for you this year?
I am working on new porcelain pieces. The human body may disappear, to have its place taken by a more invasive Nature.

“Rosa nigra”
Limoges porcelain – White biscuit and white glaze
Matt black and bright black hand painted
13×12,6×7,9 in.

Rosa nigra 1
Rosa nigra 3
Rosa nigra 8

Limoges porcelain – White glaze
Blue Cobalt hand painted
16,5×13,4×9,4 in

Mazama 1
Mazama 3
Mazama 4

Limoges porcelain – White glaze 
and white biscuit
White hand painted
16,5×14,5×11 in

Pamina 1
Pamina 2
Pamina 3

“Erinaceus concolor”
Limoges porcelain – White glaze
Blue Cobalt hand painted
13,4×13,8×9,4 in

Erinaceus consoler 3
Erinaceus consoler 7
Erinaceus consoler 1

“Memento mori”
Limoges porcelain – White glaze and white biscuit
13,7x13x8,6 in

Memento mori 3
Memento mori 9 details
Memento mori 4

“Atsu Bashiri”
Limoges porcelain – White glaze
Red and gold hand painted
13,4×13,8×9,4 in

atsu-bashiri 4
atsu-bashiri 5
atsu-bashiri 6

Limoges porcelain – White biscuit and white glaze
14×16,5×10 in.

Cernunnos 13
Cernunnos 15
Cernunnos 16

Catch Juliette Clovis’ solo exhibition at the Mondapart Gallery in Paris, from 23rd March to 4th May. 80 rue du Château, 92100 Boulogne-Billancourt.