Juliette Clovis - Erinaceus Amurensis, 2018 (detail)

Juliette Clovis

France 1978



Juliette Clovis
Juliette Clovis
January 13, 2020
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French sculptor Juliette Clovis has had other interests in her life besides art. She says various fields of classical studies were stressed in her family’s home when she was growing up. As an undergraduate university student, she took up law in addition to art history. And she worked in communications for a few years after completing those degrees. But a disturbing personal event that occurred when she was 24 motivated her to focus on art. She went back to school and got an additional degree, this one in graphic design. She has been working on her sculptures in earnest in recent years, and has had an impressive number of solo and group gallery exhibitions since 2007. Asked about the transition in her life that saw her choose art over other possible fields of study and professional work, she tells, “I do not imagine a single second in my life otherwise now. It is a deep need that I have always had in me.”

Juliette Clovis - Platycerium, 2019
Juliette Clovis – Platycerium, 2019

Clovis’s porcelain sculptures often involve hybrid creatures that are part human and part expressive forms of the natural environment. Some of her most striking works are figures where an elegant looking female bust seems to be getting overtaken by spreading flora. Spikes, horns, and snaky designs are also sometimes present, furthering the stark, mesmerizing appearances of the mythological-looking figures. So does this mean a deeply-held concern for the environment, and mankind’s treatment of it, is at the foundation of what inspires her works?

“Actually, the main idea I work on is the cycle of life and how it determines all our environment and life,” the artist explains. “So the relationship between humans and nature is logically omnipresent in my work. I question the balance of power between humans and nature. My work wobbles between a prophetic picture announcing the birth of a new living being and the onset of death caused by a hungry nature wanting to take back its rights.”

Juliette Clovis - Helleborus Conny, 2019
Juliette Clovis – Helleborus Conny, 2019

Clovis tells that she sees fully formed visions of her future works in her mind’s eye before she begins constructing them. She starts with draft versions of the pieces, by way of drawings. And it can take as long as several months or even a few years to bring a project from initial idea to full maturity. Contrasts are a constant element in her works. She shows us pristine beauty mixed with menacing danger, classicism mutated by modernity. The end result of many of her sculptures is to strike the viewer in ways that are both eye-pleasing and haunting. They’re equally dreamlike and confrontational. They may unsettle you, but it’s hard to take your eyes off them once you’ve had a look.

Juliette Clovis - Mucuna Bennettii, 2018
Juliette Clovis – Mucuna Bennettii, 2018

Clovis relates, “Contrasts and duality are everywhere in my work. Life and death, black and white, tradition and modernity, danger and peace, strength and fragility. I obsessively use these contrasts to form a balance and to reach a form of harmony. A good example is my big sculpture “Manis Tetradactyla.” A powerful form springs out from fragile porcelain shards. The spectator is faced with an unknown animal. Is it a threat? The impression of strength is palpable. But the delicacy and fragility of porcelain softens this tension, making the animal less disturbing and more intriguing.”

Juliette Clovis - Manis Tetradactyla, 2019
Juliette Clovis – Manis Tetradactyla, 2019

Inquired as to why porcelain is the best material to bring out what she wants to express in her works, Clovis explains, “Techniques and matters are very important to me. I think I belong in this new category of contemporary artists who borrow craftsmanship’s gestures and excellence, adding their artistic vision, and carrying it into contemporary art. My current production develops mainly around sculpture with my favorite medium: porcelain. The choice of this noble and classical material allows me to confront my deeply contemporary vision of art across a traditional and ancestral technology.”

Clovis’s next major exhibit will be at the Gend Museum of Design in Belgium, where “Manis Tetradactyla” will be displayed in a group show from March to September. Meanwhile, she is at work on new sculptures that are within a series associated with that snake-inspired design. Additionally, she plans other kinds of porcelain works, as well as going back to drawing and painting.

Featured image: Juliette Clovis – Erinaceus Amurensis, 2018 (detail)
Text by Brian Greene. All images and text courtesy of the artist

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2019Juliette ClovisMondapart Gallery, Boulogne Billancourt, France
2019Biennale Revelations
Grand Palais, Paris, France
2019Gaia reborn, Curated museum exhibition
Urban Nation Museum, Berlin, Germany
2019Art Up Lille
Louis Dimension gallery, France
2018Biennale Fahrenheit
American Museum of Ceramic Art, Pomona, USA
2018La Collection Bic, Curated exhibition
Le Cent Quatre, Paris, France
2018On a Pedestal, Curated museum exhibition
Castletown House of Dublin, IrelandGroup
2018Duo show Combas / ClovisGalerie Petitjean, France
2018Art Up LilleLouis Dimension gallery, France
2017Juliette ClovisMondapart Gallery, Boulogne Billancourt, France
2017YIA Basel
Virginie Barrou Planquard Gallery, Switzerland
2017Collective show
Art Angels gallery, Los Angeles, United States
2017Art Up Lille
Louis Dimension gallery, France
2016Trio show Crespel/Clovis/Strama
Alain Daudet Gallery, Toulouse, France
2016Scope Basel
Mondapart Gallery, Switzerland
2016Art Southampton
Artemisia gallery, New York
Collective show
Art Angels gallery, Los Angeles, United States
2015Juliette ClovisRise Gallery, London, United Kingdom
2015Art up LilleLille, FranceGroup
2015LollipopARTEMISIA GALLERY, New YorkGroup
2014Juliette ClovisMondapart gallery, Boulogne Billancourt Solo
2014Asia Contemporary Art FairDamina gallery, Hong KongSolo
2014Selected in the Emerging artists at Art'Up Lille Lille, FranceFocus
2014Revelation by Art'UpLille, FranceFocus
2014Trio show Nielly/Alben/ClovisAlain Daudet Gallery, ToulouseGroup
2014Asia Contemporary Art ShowHong KongGroup
2014Art up LilleLille, FranceGroup
2014Singapore Art FairSingaporeGroup
2014ST'ARTStrasbourg, FranceGroup
2013Juliette ClovisDamina gallery, Hong KongSolo
2013Juliette ClovisValérie Lefèbvre Gallery, LilleSolo
2013Auction - Contemporary ArtCornette de Saint Cyr Focus
2013AuctionDrouot, Paris, FranceFocus
2013ST'ART Strasbourg, FranceGroup
2013AAF New YorkARTEMISIA GALLERY, New YorkGroup
2013Singapore Art FairSingapore Art Fair, SingaporeGroup
2013Lyrics!Helène Bailly Gallery, Paris, FranceGroup
2013Scuderi’artGuilhem Gallery, MegèveGroup
2013World’s Apart Art Fair Damina gallery, SingaporeGroup
2013Lille Art Fair, FranceGroup
2013Art O'clockParis, FranceGroup
2012Juliette ClovisMondapart Gallery, Boulogne BillancourtSolo
2012Juliette ClovisValérie Lefèbvre Gallery, LilleSolo
2012Asia contemporary art fairHong KongGroup
2012Singapore Art FairSingaporeGroup
2012AAF BrusselBrussel, BelgiumGroup
2012ST’ArtStrasbourg, FranceGroup
2012Art O'clockParis, FranceGroup
2011Juliette Clovis770 Gallery, Paris, FranceSolo
2011Juliette ClovisMondapart Gallery, Boulogne BillancourtSolo
2011Chic Art FairParis, FranceGroup
2011AAF BrusselBrussel, BelgiumGroup
2011Nowhere @150ARTEMISIA GALLERY, New YorkGroup
2011SeizeARTEMISIA GALLERY, New YorkGroup
2011AAF New YorkARTEMISIA GALLERY, New YorkGroup
2011ST’ArtStrasbourg, FranceGroup
2010Juliette ClovisSeven Seventy Gallery, Paris, FranceSolo
2010AAF New YorkARTEMISIA GALLERY, New YorkGroup
2010AAF BrusselBrussel, BelgiumGroup
2010Mac 2000Paris, FranceGroup
2010ST’ArtStrasbourg, FranceGroup
2009Juliette ClovisLM Events, Paris, FranceSolo
2009ST’Art Strasbourg, France Group
2009AAF ParisParis, FranceGroup
2008Juliette ClovisGallery View, Séoul, KoreaSolo
2008Juliette ClovisArt Jingle Gallery, Paris, FranceSolo
2008AAF ParisPetitjean gallery, Paris, FranceGroup
2008Europ’Art Geneva, SwitzerlandGroup
2008Lille Art FairLille Group
2008AAF LondonARTEMISIA GALLERY, London, UKGroup
2008London Art FairLondon, UKGroup
2007Juliette ClovisStephanie Hoppen Gallery, LondonSolo