Corinne Chauvet

Corinne Chauvet featured in CAKE
Photo: Didier Beguin-Chauvet

It’s not often you see a contemporary version of Buddhist art in the style of Corinne, we are all familiar with Buddha crossed legged, the majestic symbolism of reincarnation, nirvana, yoga and liberating insight.  Corinne’s work is reminiscent of that spiritual quality, in as such that most of her art is of Buddhist monks, combined with an observation of the human face.  There is something droll about her artwork, they convey interaction, the variety of expression, different happy faces, along with the enjoyment we seek as humans in being together.  Sometimes it’s just the faces and then the whole person and the overall effect is this contemporary rugged refinement.  The theme of concentrating on these monks began with her choice to go travelling, focusing on Asian countries like Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, the Southeast Asian nation of more than 100 ethnic groups, and this is where she discovered the face, she tells me.  Describing how she became attracted to the Asian face, she explains that she couldn’t read anything when she arrived.  Purely for the reason that the language and written word in this part of the world was so alien to her.  That the way you see the world is like a child, she emphasises.  This observation is very prevalent in her work.

sculpture by Corinne Chauvet
Conversation by Corinne Chauvet
Sculpture of Buddhist Monk by Corinne Chauvet
Hitsuko Shima -3-8 Bronze by Corinne Chauvet
Sculpture by Corinne Chauvet
Ajima by Corinne Chauvet

What Corinne observed, is how these Monks in Myanmar who have taken a vow of poverty by choosing this lifestyle and when they weren’t meditating, they were happy and smiling, this made her think of her own country France. The French have everything a social security system, free healthcare and they are always complaining and unhappy, she tells me, this trip gave her a new insight and she fell in love with the Monks faces.  These sculptures one could say represent the best of ourselves, they have wisdom and an innocence running through them.  Then Corinne discusses her earlier sculptures; they were straight, simple and really long elongated figures, she saw herself as shy but really strong, and this body of work represented this, she titled it ‘La Femme Fille’ (The woman Child).  She believes this is when her real life began.  Corinne was born near Poitiers in the centre of France, her father an engineer and mother a teacher.  They moved to the South of France, when she was very young, her father had decided to become a goat farmer and produce Capri cheese.  Corinne grew up in the countryside, and spent plenty of time moulding the white clay from the lake, observing how her mother took the same clay from the lake and started to make things during the summer months.  Our mother opened my brothers and my mind, she explains, educating us in music, dance, theatre and art, she wanted us to be artists and now her brother is a photographer and graphic designer.  At the age of 12 her parents divorced and they moved to the city where Corinne attended the high school near Toulouse.

Buddhist Monk bronze sculpture by Corinne Chauvet
SOHIRE Bronze by Corinne Chauvet
Sculpture by Corinne Chauvet
Migration by Corinne Chauvet
Sculpture by Corinne Chauvet in CAKE
Classroom by Corinne Chauvet

Corinne studied Fine Art and History of Art, for five years, three in Montpellier, followed by one year in Bordeaux, she was primarily a painter, but didn’t really enjoy it,  her final year she spent in Leicester, in the United Kingdom.  She recalls visiting Chatsworth House where she encountered the sculptor Elizabeth Frink’s work, she was so impressed by her work, her bronze sculptures of figures appearing to be running through the woods,  this inspired Corinne, and she decided this is what she wanted to do, be a sculptor.  Today Corinne spends half her time in Paris with her husband and the other half in her larger studio, in the town of Albi.

Sculpture by Corinne Chauvet featured in CAKE
Hashima Gres Noir by Corinne Chauvet
Artwork by Corinne Chauvet
Conversion Bleue Izenajima et Bentojima Gres Noir by Corinne Chauvet

She is currently completing a Public commission, her first public sculpture in the town of Montauban near Toulouse, the artwork is a homage to the legendary artist Antoine Bourdelle.  The artwork stands 3.5 x 3.5 meters in size and is made primarily of resin, a modern form of sculpture, it’s a majestic piece of art, in brilliant white of Hercules, titled ‘Herakles’ as he comes out of the earth with his bow and arrow; 40 sculptors applied for this commission and only four were given the chance to showcase their artwork.  She used a new method of sculpture as she anticipated that Bourdelle would do the same, as he was one of the leaders of modern sculpture along with his friend and colleague Rodin.

Herakles by Corinne Chauvet
Herakles by Corinne Chauvet
Sculpture by Corinne Chauvet
Herakles by Corinne Chauvet

Corinne, has dedicated herself fully to her life as a sculptor, I worked for a museum and didn’t work as a sculptor for 10 years, everyone was telling me being an artist wasn’t a job.  Then she tells me of how one rainy night she had a huge car accident, nearly loosing her life.  They had to do a skin graft from her leg to her arm, to prevent her from loosing it.  When something really hard happens in your life, it changes you, you begin to realise the price of life, Corinne explains.  You can choose to be happy or choose what is considered right all the time.  “The way of Buddhist philosophy is when you are doing something, it’s about what you are doing in the moment.  You don’t think about the past or future, you think about the now”.  As an artist she has exhibited around the world, with her work being shown in Monaco viewed by Monegasque Royalty Princess Caroline.  Clearly the enchantment of her clay and bronze sculptures resonate that kindred spirit of happiness and joy with a trendy ethereal quality.  For that’s what makes these sculptures so powerful, they represent the faces of wisdom with a modern edge.

Interview: Antoinette Haselhorst

Corinne Chauvet featured in CAKE
Photo: Didier Beguin-Chauvet

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