Three in one: Benoist Drut passionately curates a ceramics show for Maison Gerard

Image of brown pot
Besnoit Drut coincidentally met three ceramicists on three separate occasions – and each of these encounters, in hindsight, formed an evident intangible exhibition in his eyes. He materialised this idea with 'Out of the Fire,' an exhibition bringing together personalised pots, lights, and objects of all sorts
(Image credit: Besnoit Drut)

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. 

Image of a ceramic object

All of the different ceramicists' works are recognisable through repetitive traits. Eric Astoul's objects for instance have a particular appearance, quite resemblant to ruins or old curiosities found after decades of decay

(Image credit: Eric Astoul)

Use of different materials and a pallet of earthy colours

Astoul explores this particular aesthetic through the use of different materials and a pallet of earthy colours, extremely naturalistic by essence

(Image credit: Astoul)

Use of pale colours quite similar to skin pigments

Guy Bareff, conversely, makes use of pale colours quite similar to skin pigments. In this lightwork, the light seems to emerge from the eyes and mouth of the dedicated mask

(Image credit: Guy Bareff)

Image of light is disseminated

Indeed, the way light is disseminated but also its reception in Bareff's work is very important: it is never straightforward but rather intricate and well thought

(Image credit: Bareff)

Image of miniscule sculptures

His objects sometimes rise like miniscule sculptures or architectures. They are by nature, quite whimsical and exuberant

(Image credit: Bareff)

This white work with wavy holes

This white work with wavy holes plays again with the notion of light and allows the latter to create an illusion of motion through the use of particular shapes

(Image credit: Bareff)

Image of 3 rock like sculpture in black

Nadia Pasquier's more contemporary-looking pieces differ from the others in the sense that they are not as raw. The shapes and forms are smoothed out and rendered especially sleek while the drawings decorating the objects are subtle and minutious

(Image credit: Nadia Pasquier)

Image of 3 rock like sculpture in white

Her works are quite similar in appearance and stylistically recognisable. The only colours she uses are black or white

(Image credit: Nadia Pasquier)


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Ann Binlot is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer who covers art, fashion, design, architecture, food, and travel for publications like Wallpaper*, the Wall Street Journal, and Monocle. She is also editor-at-large at Document Journal and Family Style magazines.