A vision of our world “Between Four Eyes” by Jean and Christine Viennet at Saint André Abbey
Saint André Abbey’s gallery is mounting a special exhibition for the family’s two artists – Christine Viennet, well known ceramicist and her husband, Jean Viennet, talented portraitist, from June the 3rd to the 6th of September. The title of the exhibition is “Between Four Eyes”. The art exhibition is combined with the opening of the Fantastic grotto, homage to Bernard Palissy. (Both exhibitions are included in the entrance ticket to the gardens).
Christine Viennet, specialist in the art of “Trompe l’œil”, for many years has been an eager follower of Bernard Palissy, (the French 16th century naturalistic ceramicist). Like Palissy, she creates pieces decorated with flora and fabulous creatures which emerge from clay. Her works are displayed in leading museums both in Europe and America.
Today, the human form, particularly women, is important in her work. Her new creations depict silent but emotional faces, decorated with nature’s many amazing aspects and creatures. As a nod and a wink to the paintings of her husband, some of her sculptures have double eyes, which have been Jean Viennet’s signature since 1995.
Nature has always been essential in the ceramic work of Christine Viennet. She was born in Norway in 1947. After many years of exuberant work inspired by nature, with her vases, platters and so on decorated with reptiles, shells, and flowers, the mysteries of deep waters captured her attention in 2010. Sea creatures, mutations, extravagant deep sea life, some half human, emerged in her creations. Sumptuous sculptures in coloured stoneware were combined with a sparkling imagination. These works also hinted at man’s disrespect towards nature.
Viennet’s new ceramic series of sea goddesses protect and carry our world’s history and secrets. “The human sensibility and emotions of today affect wild life and reflect a loss of harmony to be reconquered “, she says. “ The double eyes, are the double faced mirror of humanity.”
Christine Viennet’s relationship to art and nature was inspired by her master Bernard Palissy. Practically self-taught, she searches permanently for new ideas related to her fascination with the natural world. Shapes and colours are equally important. Her materials are clay, stoneware and porcelain, pigments, oxides and glazes. The miracle of firing amazes her constantly. Modelling and sculpting are happily reinvented each time with further challenges in the forming of her new series of human faces, while listening to the human spirit, visions of life and the universe.
There are two passions in Jean Viennet’s life: growing wine and art. Coming from a family of artists and patrons of the arts, he also is the 5th generation of wine growers in his family. He likes to make a balance between the good and the beautiful, and to enjoy creating an art of living between his vineyards and studio at his family domain, Château de Raissac, near Béziers, Languedoc, where the table is always laid.
This exhibition reflects his newer surreal work, with soft coloured drawings and charcoals where all the portraits have double eyes. His light touch of colours aim to simulate a darker questioning of an interior world, ambivalent and painful. This double look invites us to explore our interior and exterior worlds, forth and back, an existentialist exercise. His charcoal portraits are more direct, sensual and dreamy, haunted between myth and reality.