MAI-THU PERRET In the end you cannot change the fact that ginger is hot2020 Glasierte Keramik Glazed ceramic Photo © Mareike Tocha Ø 75 cm
Galerie Elisabeth & Klaus Thoman is pleased to present the first solo exhibition with Swiss born artist Mai-Thu Perret. Pièces Enfantines comprises three new sculptures and other wall objects made of glazed ceramics, drawings and a cloth whale floating in space. Perret finds inspiration for her work in literature, philosophy, arts and crafts, and the avant-gardes of the 20th century, among others.
The glazed ceramics created only this year, whose witty titles the artist borrowed from a Zen manual, are the result of Mai-Thu Perret’s direct physical interaction with the material clay, which in turn is based on a millennia-old tradition of craftsmanship. The wall objects show a relief-like tactile quality, resembling paintings in their nuanced colouring and hanging. With the Russian Doll (2018), a three-part sculpture made of glazed ceramic, Perret negotiates the relationship between monumentality and the human body. She takes up a motif from folk art that traditionally recalls motherhood and reproduction; associations with sarcophagi or grave vessels could arise.
The title of the exhibition Pièces Enfantines evokes another dimension of Mai-Thu Perret’s work, namely that of the childlike. Leviathan II (2013), a space-consuming stuffed whale (2013) inspired by Herman Melville’s classic Moby Dick, as well as the Russian Doll bringing up associations with children’s toys, coined in the seemingly rough and very playful use of clay in In the end you cannot change that ginger is hot (2020).
Perret’s practise of using and combining different interest can also be observed in the single group of abstract drawings, namely her Bible drawings (gouache, acrylic and pencil on paper, 2017). The motifs are close to Indian tantric painting and to the works of the spiritualist painter Hilma af Klint, however, they are also reminiscent of the Dadaist’s mechanomorphic images. Perret creates her own, unmistakable visual language and new spaces of association from the various formal suggestions.
Since the late 1990s, Mai-Thu Perret’s work evolved around The Crystal Frontier, a fictional narrative about a group of feminist activists who broke away from patriarchal society to found a utopian community. This ever-expanding narrative serves as the background for Mai-Thu Perret’s broad net of reference, reaching from literature to the craft focused movements of the late 19th and early 20th century, avant-garde aesthetics of modernity, the spiritual and the poetic that she virtuously intertwines with art-immanent questions of materiality and form. From early on, ceramic material played a fundamental role in Perret’s practice owing to its wide-ranging anthropological significance, inherent tactility and reliance upon the transformative role played by fire. (Francesca Pia / Zürich)
Mai-Thu Perret (b. 1976, Geneva, Switzerland) has exhibited internationally since the early 2000s. Selected institutional solo exhibitions include Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe (2019), Spike Island, Bristol (2019), MAMCO, Geneva (2018), NICC, Brussels (2017), Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas (2016), Aargauer Kunsthaus, Aargau (2011), Haus Konstruktiv, Zurich (2011), MAMCO, Geneva (2011), Aspen Art Museum (2009), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2008), The Kitchen, New York (2008), The Renaissance Society, Chicago (2006), Chisenhale Gallery, London (2006). Recent institutional group exhibition include Glasgow International, Glasgow (2019), Met Breuer, New York (2019), The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Connecticut (2018), Kunsthaus Zurich, Zurich (2018), Kunsthalle Basel, Basel (2018), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2018), Kunsthaus Zurich (2018), Kunsthalle Basel (2018), Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (2017), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2016), Swiss Institute, New York (2015), Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht (2015) and Migros Museum, Zurich (2015). Her work forms part of the collection of many major institutions. Mai-Thu Perret lives and works in Geneva.