Artist Talk Week 3; Caroline Achaintre 

Caroline Achaintre is French-German artist, whose practice has been based in London for the past 19 years. She was also my artist of choice to research for my summer project about artist influence.
Her work began with small abstract drawings, channeling what she describes and ‘teenage angst’, with surrounding themes of primitivism, postmodernism, and german expressionism. These works also explored themes of masquerade, clowns, multiple personalities, and tense energy.
Then, whilst at Goldsmiths college, she decided to try and translate this aesthetic into textiles; specifically tufted wool; in order to try and “minimise the work from being opulent to being expressive”. She drew the inspiration for this from masks and anthology collections.
Image result for Caroline achaintre
Image result for Caroline achaintre
Image result for Caroline achaintre


Artist Talk; Week 1, Caspar Heinemann

Caspar Heinemann, self described as a ‘twinky butch anarcho-communist mystic’, is a Berlin- based artist whos’ chosen mediums include sculpture, drawing and poetry. Themes often found in their work include identity, politics, vulnerability, mental health, nihilism, and the philosophy of value. They don’t describe their work as having an aim or purpose, rather that honest self expression; art for the sake of art.

“The less you eat, drink and read books; the less you go to the theatre, the dance hall, the public house; the less you think, love, theorize, sing, paint, fence, etc., the more you save – the greater becomes your treasure which neither moths nor dust will devour – your capital.

The less you are, the more you have; the less you express your own life, the greater is your alienated life – the greater is the store of your estranged being.” – Karl Marx

 Caspar Heinemann, nothing is the end of the world they made (2016) , exhibition view. Courtesy the artist and Kevin Space and the artist. Photo: Georg Petermichl

Caroline Achaintre


Media used; Textiles (tufted wool), print, ceramics, watercolour.

Main Influences;
German expressionism, primitivism, post-war british culture, anthropological museum displays, expressionism, post-modernism, carnival costume, masquerade.

Minor influences;
psychedelia, the Goth-metal scene, sci-fi, horror films.

Core ideas/themes;
Achaintres dualistic work purposefully perches on multiple themes. Never quite falling into one category, they teeter on the edge of primitivism and postmodernism; abstraction and anthropomorphism; old and new. Her large tufted wool sculptures depict multiple beings, with “a facade on the surface, with the question of who is behind it”.
Achaintre finds interest in the psychology of what the audience may see in the work she creates. Whilst her work isn’t fully figurative, by incorporating disguised figurative elements into her work, she leaves the audience in a state of pareidolia.
The face-like sculptures she creates are bulky and untamed in form, simultaneously geometric and bunchy. The spontaneity of her creative and material process is reflected in her finished works, as shown in their impromptu, brawny compositions and striking use of stripes.
Stripes and lines often used her in work, akin to jutting carnival costumes. In the Camp Coo 2013 exhibition, her sculpture presentation was influenced by tetris pieces; “clean lines and modular units to counteract the uneven contours of hardened clay.”

Whilst Achaintre has used a range of materials, one of her most striking choices has been the tufted wool with which many of her sculptures are made. She works with the wool as she finds it has simultaneously attracive and repulsive qualities; further contributing the the dualism of her work.

Artist statement.

The concept for my final sculpture piece originated from idea of an ‘impossible sculpture’, this being an incomprehensible, terrible creature; the physical embodiment of oil, charcoal and death. The actual sculpture itself is the blackened, discarded skeletal forearm of the creature, bound together with string.  Chicken, duck, and roe deer bones were used. These were boiled to disinfect and remove soft tissue. They were then coated with PVA glue, nail polish, and several coats of matte black paint. They were then bound together into the shape of the hand, first using a glue gun, and then string around the knuckle/finger joints of the hand.

This sculpture is a physical articulation of ideas, interests and feelings. It is also an investigation of materials. The aim of this work is to convey these concepts to the viewing audience.

One of the main aims of this work is to express a feeling dark, hollow fragility, in the desiccated remains of what once was. Two songs that heavily influenced this are “Risingson” by Massive Attack, and “Cage of Bones” by Son Lux. They both evoke a heavy, visceral atmosphere, reminiscent of a desperate howl in an endless void. One feels something primal and unexplainable when listening to them; I aimed to achieve this atmosphere in the form of physical matter.

I selected the bones for the sculpture in order to make it gangly and lumpy, with emphasised knuckles and a curving grip. Black string was woven around the knuckles, simulating sinew, in order to emulate the ephemeral delicacy of viscera and ligament; joint and cartilage. This was done in order to express an appreciation of clumsy biomechanics, and a fascination with the delicate intricacies and curves of natural bone. The work of Egon Schiele has been a major influence in this aspect. In many of his paintings are depictions of bony, nimble looking hands, with a similar aesthetic to my sculpture. The black thread emphasising the knuckles of my sculpture are a nod to the, bloody, bruised knuckles depicted in Schieles’ hands. The matte black paint was used in order to mask the subtleties of the bone, requiring the viewer look closely in order to see them; if the viewer has looked close enough to see them, they may find the fascination that I am trying to convey within themselves.

The mode of presentation (a pool of white liquid) is part of the sculpture and was influenced by the work of Damien Hirst; namely ‘Pickled Shark’. Hirsts’ work presents dead creatures in preserved in fluid. Therefore, the white fluid in which my sculpture sits could have been the pickle in which the hand could have been preserved. It could also be interpreted as the blood of the creature from which it came, but it is up to the viewer to decide the context of the fluid.

egon schiele – hands

Once again, I return to the work of Egon Schiele as a point of reference. More specifically, the humam hands infamously depicted in his figurative work.
The elongatd fingers, bruised and sore knuckles, and overly pronounced bone structure of the hands evokes a feeling of curiosity for anatomy, and an appreciation for the subtle curves of biomechanics; something I am also aiming to express in my own work.

Image shown;’ Portrait of Erin von Graff’
File:Egon Schiele 062.jpg