Friday, 14 October 2016

Caroline Achaintre at BALTIC, Gateshead

Level 3 of the BALTIC is currently host to an exhibition of work by French artist
Caroline Achaintre. 

Achaintre "works across a diverse range of media that includes textiles, ceramics, prints and watercolours, using techniques typically associated with the applied arts. 

Her work is colourful and potent, evoking the subversive spirit of European carnival and creating an atmosphere that is simultaneously playful and absurd. 

Citing German Expressionism, post-war British sculpture and Primitivism as influences, her work also makes reference to more contemporary sub-cultural strands of sci-fi, the Goth-metal scene, psychedelia and horror films."

I find both the work and her means of installing the work interesting, considered and inviting. She varies the scale and type of work throughout the exhibition, and forces the viewer to engage with the work in different ways. Large-scale 
handtufted woollen hangings are impressive both from a distance and up close. Ceramic masks are displayed both in a line on the wall and on bespoke stands that resemble figures.

The 'false wall', (for want of a better term), was specially built for the gallery and the work that she was going to exhibit. 

Colourful drawings in a line face a line of black framed prints, one set neatly aligned to the bottom of the frame whereas the black prints seem to be hung from their central point.

I admire Achaintre's use of colour, not only in her artwork, but also in the means of display such as the different coloured plinths. 

In a recent interview for Aesthetica Magazine Achaintre revealed:

"Colour is an important part of my work, it sets the tone for the world/character the piece is from, often bright, but sometimes also muted and subtle. Again, I play with associations, also through colour. The tufted piece Ray-Inn radiates sun rays, whereas the ceramic sculpture ‘Mola’ looks like it comes from the bottom of the sea."

Nowhere is the colour more vibrant than some of the woollen hangings.         

"Shooting the threads through a canvas, working from the back to the front, she is basically working blind. She mixes the lengths of threads, producing an uneven surface and allowing accident, something that appeals to her, inspired by her professed love of expressionism."

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