In his series “Abuse”, Montreal-based sculptor and ceramicist Laurent Craste nails vases to walls, hammers them hard, subjects them to darts and stamping shoes and baseball bats. The violent rage radically changes the shape and form of the innocent-looking decorative objects. Yet they manage to be recognisable. These contaminated and corrupted items could be stand-ins for the human personality. They remain capable of being filled. They are beautiful, broken. And with that, resilient.
The artist explains: “My research centers on conceptual explorations of the multiple layers of meaning of decorative collectibles, in their sociological and historical dimensions, and also in their ideological and aesthetics ones. This approach takes its form in the re-appropriation of historical ceramic archetypes. My research considers the object as a social indicator, a ‘sign bearer’. Considered as instruments of political power, ideological vehicles, demonstrations of ostentatious luxury and economic power, but also as incarnations of emotions and experiences, the historical archetypes of decorative arts consummately provide me with useful material.”
Laurent’s influences come mainly from the classical forms of European art of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, especially sculpture and decorative arts but also religious painting, particularly representations of martyrology (for instance, the depictions of Saint Sebastian). In the field of contemporary art, it is specifically the postmodern ceramists like Grayson Perry, Charles Kraft and Paul Scott who have been a source of inspiration for him. Other artists, specialists in objects’ appropriation (détournement in french…), such as Brian Jungen, have also had an impact on him.
Originally from France, Laurent studied Veterinary Medicine in the commune of Maisons-Alfort, southeast of Paris. This was followed by a Master’s in Physiology and Anatomy in Montreal. Later, he obtained a degree in ceramics from the Centre de Céramique Bonsecours and a Master’s in Fine Arts from the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM). He teaches ceramics at the college level and has exhibited widely in Canada and abroad. He is currently collaborating with the Californian gallery Hohmann Fine Arts (www.hohmannfineart.com) as well as with the Back Gallery Project (www.backgalleryproject.com) in Vancouver.
Images used with permission.