Not clowning around: Galerie Kreo hosts Pierre Charpin’s ’Marbles and Clowns’

Not clowning around: Galerie Kreo hosts Pierre Charpin’s ’Marbles and Clowns’

The London outpost of Galerie Kreo presents a new body of work by French designer Pierre Charpin. Titled ’Marbles and Clowns’, the exhibition combines a humourous fleet of expressively painted clown faces sitting atop contrasting marble consoles of various sizes. 

The marbles – a rather humble understatement for the incredible skill and craftsmanship behind these geometric masterpieces – were inspired by the process behind marble manufacturing. Charpin noted how marble is shapeless in its natural state in the landscape, and sculpting it for art or design pieces is essentially about removing something from it. His graphic pieces take this (literally) to the next level, featuring an empty circular void in the middle of each monolith. 

And then there are the clowns: ten faces painted on vases from the designer’s collaboration with Manufacture Nationale de Sèvres in 2008. They not only contrast the marble pieces in shape and colour, but also in concept. ’If marble is all about subtraction,’ explains the designer, ’clowns are the opposite : they are about excess, additions, colour and make up.’ This is what Charpin focused on when he painted each of his characters’ faces onto the white porcelain. 

The designer is fond of the title – it’s one, he admits, that ‘couldn’t be any clearer’ about the exhibition’s contents. ‘You can never underestimate the importance of a title,’ he admits, and the one he chose here is not just clearly illustrative of this small collection’s contents; it also narrates the project’s development. ‘That’s the order they arrived on the page,’ he says, ‘the marble simply came to me first, the clowns followed later. They weren’t part of the programme, that’s how they made their entrance: no drum rolls or pre-show announcements, but flying in the face of the perfect, impassive solemnity and elegance of the marble, which unsurprisingly remain stonily indifferent.’

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