“Permanente”, the first solo show in Rome by French artist Caroline Achaintre, can be visited until 10 October 2020 at Fondazione Giuliani.
On entering the exhibition rooms you see the materials used in Achaintre’s work, colourful and skilfully set up, in dialogue with the space and the architecture. From the softness of the wool in her famous tapestries to shiny ceramics, from exquisite watercolours to the monumental wicker and bamboo “walls”. White walls are paired with large hand-painted tapestries that the artist creates as if they were paintings.
These “hangings” look like ethnic carnival masks, consisting of geometric shapes, long fringes of semi-finished wool, with rigid contours but soft fabric, simple lines with hints of human faces. The route highlights small intricate watercolours that decisively round off the exhibition; watercolours used to represent preparatory drawings for creation of Achaintre’s tapestries. Now the artist starts from an impromptu draft with a marker pen to make the works more authentic, guided by instinct during the moment of creativity and creation.
The ceramic sculptures, on the other hand, have more elaborate surfaces, are small in size and are always grouped together. They are reminiscent of masks, pre-Columbian finds, sadomasochistic objects or hoods worn by secret organisations like the KKK (Ku Klux Klan). Several hang on the walls while others are situated on a platform specially created for the space so as to merge with the architecture. This type of installation is one of the artist’s trademarks, with which she creates an environmental movement and rhythm, contrasting the gloomy aspect of the works with the playfulness of these altars.
In the largest room, towards the exit of the Foundation, there are three large wicker partitions designed by the artist and made by traditional basket weavers. Originally, the first wicker sculptures were made directly by Achaintre and installed outside. Later the artist preferred to install them in closed spaces. The three sculptures have the same format and their arrangement is made in perspective on different levels; they represent glyphs which can be seen through, giving lightness to these barriers.
For the exhibition at the Fondazione, Achaintre has specially created the work entitled Louis Q. (2020), a tapestry inspired by the iconic beak mask used by seventeenth-century plague doctors, which has been widely used in Italian comedy and is still a popular carnival costume today. In the same room, the tapestry work Herbert (2018) recalls the famous Steel Jeeg mask, a fictional manga character which entered the world of anime and cartoons.
Irony and mystery, German expressionism and primitivism, carnival and death metal – these are just some aspects emerging from research that carefully analyses the origins of humanity, the technical and manual ability of the artist to materialise what would otherwise remain in their nightmares.
Caroline Achaintre.PERMANENTE, 24.06 – 10.10. 2020, Fondazione Giuliani per l’arte contemporanea, Rome
The exhibition is a co-production between Fondazione Giuliani, Belvedere 21, Vienna, MO.CO Montpellier Contemporain and CAPC, Bordeaux
images:(cover 1) Caroline Achaintre, «Cruizer», 2019, hand tufted wool; 256 x 220 cm. Courtesy l’Artista e Galerie Art : Concept, Paris, photo: Giorgio Benni (2) Caroline Achaintre, «Herbert», 2018, hand tufted wool; 115 x 273 cm. Courtesy Galerie Art : Concept, Paris, photo: Giorgio Benni (3-4) Caroline Achaintre, exhibition view at Fondazione Giuliani, Rome, photo: Giorgio Benni (5) Caroline Achaintre, «Louis Q», 2020,hand tufted wool; 236 x 160 cm. Courtesy l’Artista e Galerie Art : Concept, Paris, photo: Giorgio Benni(6) Caroline Achaintre, «Helter-Shelter», 2018. watercolor and ink on paper; 33,8 x 24 cm. Courtesy Galerie Art : Concept, Paris, photo: Giorgio Benni