Fantastic Beasts by Johann Kreten

Johann Kreten is an unrepentant traveler. He travels in the technical and agricultural fields that have nurtured him since childhood. Driven by his curiosity and sensitivity, he travels the world wherever he can learn new technologies. Being a nomadic artist, he will have itinerant workshops where exhibitions take him and where he is drawn to craftsmen, whether ceramicists or founders. Always on the lookout for new workshops where one finds other inspirations, other lands, other Mina traditions, and other kilns. Until May 29, La Piscine de Roubaix presents the fascinating and disturbing world of the artist.


Lucio Fontana’s baby

We find him, in disarray, in Nice, on a farm in the Mexican desert, in the Beaux-Arts in Paris, in a garage in Ciete, in a clean studio in Miami, at Alfred University in New York, but also in a factory in Wisconsin, in Hong Kong. …and a few years in Manufacture de Sevres where we met him, running from workshop to workshop, the wick in battle, frantically like a rabbitAlice in Wonderland. He can boast that he was the first artist invited to the residence by David Camillo, then the director of the building, and that he gave center stage to the manufacture of stoneware, the production of which has ceased since the nineteenth century!

Johan Creten, L’Hippocampe secret, 2019-2022, chamotte white sandstone, carved work in mass, hollow and then reassembled on sandstone slab plate, fired at high temperatures in a gas furnace, mineral enamel, ‘blister’ Email », Traces in majolica and red enamel at low temperature, 155 x 70 x 70 cm / 180 kg, unique and unpublished work © Creten Studio and Gerrit Schreurs Courtesy Galerie Almine Rech, Brussels

The eighties he spent in Sèvres was decisive; He slept there, making, examining, designing sculptures of maximum size for the furnaces of which he was the first Odor de Femina. Likewise, try a funny mix of enamel after studying Palissy rooms at the Louvre for a long time. The years were more significant as the outlook for ceramics was changing, and Johann Kreten had a lot to do with it. ” I was a pioneer. What I was doing was taboo. In the art world, ceramics were considered quite old-fashioned Porcelain was still a matter of potters being classified into the small decorative arts and certainly not of noble sculpture, even if Gauguin, Rodin or Carriès excelled in it!

Johan Creten, La Mouche Morte, 2019-2022, chamotte white stoneware, metallic and sulfatara enamel, 69 x 119 x 6 cm © Courtesy Galerie Almine Rech, Brussels / Creten studio and Gerrit Schreurs

John Critten dead fly2019-2022, chamotte white stoneware, metallic and sulfatara enamel, 69 x 119 x 6 cm © Courtesy Galerie Almine Rech, Brussels / Creten studio and Gerrit Schreurs

In 1987, at the large exhibition Lucio Fontana prepared by Bernard Pleistin in the Center Pompidou, the audience was surprised and greatly surprised by the numerous ceramic “sculptures”. We still do not know in France that this pioneering Italian-Argentine artist, inventor Conceto Spaziali A conceptual maker of pits and crevices, since the 1930s a large part of his work has been on polychrome clay, modeling women, knights, crocodiles and other animals. Tormented, aggressive, sexual, cracked, baroque, Fontana pottery was a living matter, shimmering with multicolored enamel. Fontana wrote in 1939: I’m a sculptor, not a potter A statement Creten has certainly made for years. This effect is evident, especially in relation to Fontana’s works such as Donna Con Fury 1948 or Conchiglia and Polo From 1938. Already flowers and animals.

skin stories…

With Cretan, exuberance, expressiveness, mannerisms, it is clear that the affinity for mythological or societal themes is not the same, especially since he often claims his own deep and more political Flemish identity. Some of his sculptures only show delirious assemblies, teeming with cells, lined with roses or myriad shells until they form iridescent drips, barely emerging from the sea floor, a living being like the remains of shaggy fur suddenly petrified, concreted metal like the petrified wooden poles which Venetian palaces support … Recently at Art Geneva showed two types of flower covered with fishing net in pastel shades, a type of leather covered with elegant fishing net.

Johan Creten, Why does exotic fruit always look so sweet?, 1998-2015, bronze with multicolored patina, gold leaf, 305 x 114 x 102 cm © Creten studio and Gerrit Schreurs

John Critten Why does exotic fruit always look so sweet?1998-2015, Bronze with multicolored patina, gold leaf, 305 x 114 x 102 cm © Creten studio and Gerrit Schreurs

Creten has a knack for enlivening surfaces with sensual and exotic skins, attractive or disgusting. You have to believe that mixing clay in this way naturally pushes towards animals. In the case of Cretin, imagining animals allows him to approach the theme of life and its disease. The Eagles appeared in 1993 in his exhibition at Villa Arson in Nice. ” My bird is a hybrid between a cormorant, an eagle and an owl. Eagles also appeal to the image of Rome, Napoleon and America. His inconsistencies always suggest a bit of humor and you want to get people to interact. If he also used bronze, a smooth and clean material far from filthy earth, this also provoked the bourgeoisie! The irony is never far away.

animal metaphors

Johann Kreten is a wonderful and sophisticated being. Dandy, he always receives, even in full work, elegantly fitted in colorful Etro-signed jackets, never soiled, the beautiful features and mischievous eye that refer to the self-portrait of Flemish painter Anton Van Dyck. To prepare for the exhibition at La Piscine de Roubaix, where we received the huge black bat that had already been erected in Rome in the garden of Villa Medici during the “I Peccati” exhibition in 2020-2021, he left to work for three years at the Struktuur 68 workshop in The Hague. In these giant spaces, he was able to cook his last food Bestarium. And we develop very new and beautiful glassware.

Johann Creten, Flamingo 1, 2019-2022, chamfered white sandstone, carved work in the block, densely chamfered, hollow and then reassembled on sandstone slab, multiple fires at high temperature in a gas kiln, matte enamel and glossy materials • 100 x 112 x 74 cm / 235 kg, unique and unpublished work © Creten Studio and Gerrit Schreurs Courtesy Galerie Almine Rech, Brussels

Johann Creten, Flamingo 1, 2019-2022, chamfered white sandstone, carved work in the block, densely chamfered, hollow and then reassembled on sandstone slab, multiple fires at high temperature in a gas kiln, matte enamel and glossy materials • 100 x 112 x 74 cm / 235 kg, unique and unpublished work © Creten Studio and Gerrit Schreurs Courtesy Galerie Almine Rech, Brussels

Cruel game themes

The locustsThe dead dogThe Sam beaverThe big snailThe urchinme’dead spiderThe rabbitThe swans… These monsters carved into the white chamotte sandstone are most often released at high temperatures. Whether they drape themselves or flow with daisies, they are harmless, a bit rigid, especially when they are dead! They are completely stuck in their vitality, in what humans consider filthy.

The Flemish artist in front of his famous bat (2014-2019), which toured Europe

The Flemish artist in front of his famous bat (2014-2019), which toured Europe

Creten’s animals no longer tilt upwards like his earlier vertical sculptures, but rather look down at a disturbing horizontal. They are not animals that glorify them as heroes, like the lion king of the jungle, but rather small, usually unloved predators, who disgust, drool, or spend their time chewing or growling, such as dirty pig In the middle of what looks like his droppings. However, these monsters, which often fascinate children as much as frighten them, sometimes appear, as in superstitions de la Fontaine and many others, In Human Postures. Thus, the dead fly Which reminds us of a woman giving birth on her back. They look like abandoned games in a cruel game. Immersed in their animal silence, these creatures frozen in their poses, inanimate, seem to wait for their way out. Laid at their base like good little soldiers, a little naive at times, mysterious, they are brightly colored toys but immersed in a stunned melancholy.

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