It was completely by chance that Benoist F. Drut, the gallerist behind New York-based Maison Gerard, happened upon the work of three French ceramicists over the past few years. He first discovered a small sculpture by Eric Astoul at Les Puces, the famed Parisian flea market. He was immediately drawn, so eventually traveled to La Borne, where Astoul works. Next Frederic Fieux from L'Arc en Seine New York and Pierre Marie Giraud from Brussels introduced him to the angular works of Nadia Pasquer. Finally, Drut's friends Helene Bréhéret and Benjamin Desprez of Galerie Desprez-Bréhéret brought Guy Bareff's illuminated terra cotta pieces to his attention.
Drut was so taken by the three French ceramicists that he decided to bring their recent works together for an exhibition at Maison Gerard titled Out of the Fire, on view through 1 July. 'They're all inspired by what's around them - the earth, or the sky,' said Maison Gerard director Julia Hartshorn. Astoul, who works in the French ceramics capital La Borne, is informed by the earth around him, as evident in the organic patterns on his stoneware and porcelain pieces. He also counts his travels in Africa as another source of inspiration. 'When he's firing, if something is touching another piece, you get this circle effect,' says Hartshorn. Pasquer looked to the sky, art history, numbers and geometry for her black and white slightly curved, angular forms, which have subtle, delicate recreations of various constellations on them. Bareff, whose earthenware works are a seamless fit with Southwestern design, double as lighting objects or tables, is drawn to the light - 'What happens when the light shines on the piece, the shadows it creates,' says Hartshorn.
Although at first glance, the seemingly disparate ceramicists have no commonalities aside from Drut's personal interest, their links become more obvious upon learning more about each of their practices.