Be-Part, a platform for contemporary art in Waregem, Belgium, presents the first solo exhibition in Belgium by Caroline Achaintre (born in 1969, Toulouse, lives and works in London). The exhibition, entitled Fantômas, includes a dozen new ceramic sculptures and four large, hand-tufted wall hangings, in addition to a selection of drawings that have never been shown before.
Achaintre’s visually striking, witty ceramic sculptures and hand-tufted wall hangings evoke the subversive spirit of Carnival, creating an atmosphere that is simultaneously playful and absurd. Her works incorporate diverse references such as catwalk fashion, carnival, and death-metal iconography, as well as Primitivism and Expressionism – early twentieth-century Western art movements that borrowed heavily from non-Western and prehistoric imagery to find new ways of representing the modern world. At times menacing, sexual and playful they also present many contradictions between art and design, fashion and taste, abstraction and figuration.
The title of the exhibition refers to the mask worn by the eponymous shape-shifting French criminal, invented by writers Marcel Allain and Pierre Souvestre in 1911. In the 1960s, a TV adaptation of the novel was made, in which Fantômas’ face was hidden by a rigid-looking blue mask. For Achaintre, whose work often resemble masks, the mask is a place where fantasy and reality can exist at the same time. Appearing in cultures throughout the world, masks have the potential to take on a life of their own, conjuring ‘characters’ in the mind of the viewer.
Fantômas was originally developed for the De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea, and is presented in an expanded form at Be-Part. The ceramics were created whilst the artist undertook a joint residency between the De La Warr Pavilion and West Dean College, an arts and conservation college founded by the British Poet Edward James, a keen art collector known for his patronage of the Surrealist movement.
2 September - 2 December 2018