The work of French ceramicist Pierre Casenove goes on show at Arles’ Villa Benkemoun, a 1970s piece of architecture by Emile Sala. Presenting a collection of sculptural work, large vases, lamps, and ceramic totems, the exhibition is titled ‘Coincidences’, referring to the lucky encounter between the villa’s owner, Brigitte Benkemoun, and Casenove. The name also reflects the unpredictability of clay, and the often unexpected results that Casenove’s work has produced. 

‘Coincidences’: Pierre Casenove at Villa Benkemoun

Pierre Casenove white ceramic vase with white wall and blue sky
Ceramic vase by Pierre Casenove near the metal fireplace at Arles’ Villa Benkemoun
Pieces by Casenove shown alongside Villa Benkemoun’s architecture and interiors

‘Potters know that everything is possible in an oven,’ he says. ‘If you put a simple clay pot in an oven and you see branches and leaves grow during the firing, you’ll be the only one surprised!’ Much of his ceramic work is led by random outcomes: while part of his output comprises gold-plated objects featuring anthropomorphic or zoomorphic forms, his clay production is more abstract. 

White glazed ceramic vase by Pierre Casenove featuring a black circular design
A ceramic vase by Casenove, part of the ‘Coincidences’ exhibition

For his ceramics, Casenove finds inspiration in Japanese aesthetics, favouring imperfection and discretion. To create the pieces, he works from his Jura workshop using a Japanese wood-fired oven, a tool which, he explains, allows him to explore different raw stoneware palettes.

The white modernist architecture of Villa Benkemoun framed by palm trees and blue sky
The curved silhouettes of Villa Benkemoun, which will frame the exhibition

The exhibition is presented inside the airy spaces of the villa, its distinctive design offering a charming contrast to the earthy work of the ceramicist. Architect Emile Sala was commissioned by Algerian couple Simone and Pierre Benkemoun in the early 1970s, to design a villa that was ‘transparent and open’. Featuring flowing, curved silhouettes and shifting perspectives, the villa has been restored by their daughter, Brigitte, and Thierry Demaizière, who transformed the venue into an art and cultural destination, regularly hosting the work of artists and designers. 

As part of the exhibition, a rare collection of ceramic tableware and unique pieces by Casenove will concurrently be on sale at the nearby lifestyle boutique, Moustique. §