LIVES AND WORKS
LIVES AND WORKS
DATE OF BIRTH
Born in 1982 Paris, Keen Souhlal’s career path is atypical. After studying at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris (ENSBA), she settled abroad in Iceland, Greenland, then Quebec and completed her training with a vocational training certificate in marquetry at the Ecole Boulle. Her work is built around many different disciplines, such as sculpture, ceramics, embossing, drawing and photography. Keen Souhlal develops a protean body of work with real subtlety, trifling with the perception of the observer in order to unsettle him more effectively in his convictions. The artist freezes the material in its most ephemeral and precarious phenomena, in order to reveal more fully its plastic and poetic potential, thus prompting wonder in the observer. Eclectic in her choice of mediums allows her to consider the nature in a wide variety of views and procedures. The artist's reflection object is the natural and raw material from his natural environment. Influenced by a wide range of movements, from Land Art to Arte Povera, the artist crosses materials, forms and techniques for both rendered rough, sensitive and delicate that reveal the tension between strength and fragility.
Following her residency at the Cité des Arts in Paris, she set off to carry out work research with scientists expedition in the Antarctic ocean. Recently she was an artistic member for a year of the international residency “La Casa de Velazquez” in Madrid, in Spain. She also was awarded in 2017 from the “Institut Français de Paris” of the residency “Blanc de Chine“ in Fujian during 2 month.
Artist words :
“My work stems from a deep connection to nature, a connection that is, at the same time, sensitive, philosophical and spiritual. Walks in the forest, voyages to the far reaches of the oceans, collaboration with scientists, woodmen or craftsmen are milestones in my quest for new techniques and new materials. I see sculptures as the transitional manifestation, the stage of a cycle that starts with the tree and leads to the piece of work before returning to nature again, and so on. I invested raw organic materials that have a high potential to change state. I transform them by physical reactions. I burn wood cobblestones, so that they become pointless. I contain glass in fusion in tiny pierced wood that burn. I bake and I smoke land through direct contact with the flames and turn it into ceramics. I stuff wood with cement till it bursts. I cross the world to collect in jars the purest air in the world. In these hybrid objects, I transfigure the nature and I seal a pact with our urban civilization. I deliberately restrict what I do to tiny and delicate gestures, the significance of which lies not so much in the fact of transforming the raw material as in expressing its many different properties.
A sculptor said—who just had bought
The finest marble ever wrought
What must my chisel here produce?
A god, or cowl for common use?
No, it shall be a god, I swear;
His hand the thunder-bolt shall bear:
Mortals, fall down, or hence be hurled;
Behold the sovereign of the world !
Jean de La Fontaine – The statuary and statue of Jupiter (1678)
A block of stone, earth, concrete or wood that is the strictly material origin of sculpture.
What to do with this material? What to make it say? How to attune it to an extremely rich history?
I am attentive to the physical properties of materials, to their symbolic significance, but also to their history. I inject this knowledge in a reflection in which past and present coexist and attract and hybridize each other.
The sculptures are born from technical, material and formal investigations. I use wood, earth, lava, plant fibers, and stone, concrete or metal and utilize either forms that exist in nature or objects resulting from artisanal and traditional practices such as basketry, woodworking, glass or ceramic.
I make use of their structures and specificities to generate sculptures with new and composite forms. In this sense, I activate a process of mixing or, what Edouard Glissant refers to as creolization: « Creolization is a mixing of arts or languages that produces the unexpected…” By introducing a concept of sculpture situated between geology, ethnology and archeology, I build bridges between territories, between art and craft, between nature and culture, between East and West, between the artificial and the natural.
The works forward a plural reading of geography, landscapes, cultures, objects and natural materials. I then, through hybridization and contamination, I break down barriers and produces the unexpected.”
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