It’s not often you see a contemporary version of Buddhist art in the style of Corinne, we are all familiar with Buddha crossed legged, the majestic symbolism of reincarnation, nirvana, yoga and liberating insight. Corinne’s work is reminiscent of that spiritual quality, in as such that most of her art is of Buddhist monks, combined with an observation of the human face. There is something droll about her artwork, they convey interaction, the variety of expression, different happy faces, along with the enjoyment we seek as humans in being together. Sometimes it’s just the faces and then the whole person and the overall effect is this contemporary rugged refinement. The theme of concentrating on these monks began with her choice to go travelling, focusing on Asian countries like Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, the Southeast Asian nation of more than 100 ethnic groups, and this is where she discovered the face, she tells me. Describing how she became attracted to the Asian face, she explains that she couldn’t read anything when she arrived. Purely for the reason that the language and written word in this part of the world was so alien to her. That the way you see the world is like a child, she emphasises. This observation is very prevalent in her work.
What Corinne observed, is how these Monks in Myanmar who have taken a vow of poverty by choosing this lifestyle and when they weren’t meditating, they were happy and smiling, this made her think of her own country France. The French have everything a social security system, free healthcare and they are always complaining and unhappy, she tells me, this trip gave her a new insight and she fell in love with the Monks faces. These sculptures one could say represent the best of ourselves, they have wisdom and an innocence running through them. Then Corinne discusses her earlier sculptures; they were straight, simple and really long elongated figures, she saw herself as shy but really strong, and this body of work represented this, she titled it ‘La Femme Fille’ (The woman Child). She believes this is when her real life began. Corinne was born near Poitiers in the centre of France, her father an engineer and mother a teacher. They moved to the South of France, when she was very young, her father had decided to become a goat farmer and produce Capri cheese. Corinne grew up in the countryside, and spent plenty of time moulding the white clay from the lake, observing how her mother took the same clay from the lake and started to make things during the summer months. Our mother opened my brothers and my mind, she explains, educating us in music, dance, theatre and art, she wanted us to be artists and now her brother is a photographer and graphic designer. At the age of 12 her parents divorced and they moved to the city where Corinne attended the high school near Toulouse.
Corinne studied Fine Art and History of Art, for five years, three in Montpellier, followed by one year in Bordeaux, she was primarily a painter, but didn’t really enjoy it, her final year she spent in Leicester, in the United Kingdom. She recalls visiting Chatsworth House where she encountered the sculptor Elizabeth Frink’s work, she was so impressed by her work, her bronze sculptures of figures appearing to be running through the woods, this inspired Corinne, and she decided this is what she wanted to do, be a sculptor. Today Corinne spends half her time in Paris with her husband and the other half in her larger studio, in the town of Albi. Continue reading “Corinne Chauvet”