Les masques (La vallée) (The Masks (The Valley))

Les masques (La vallée) (The Masks (The Valley))
signed and dated ‘C. TABOURET 2015’ (on the reverse)
acrylic on canvas
78 ¾ x 118 1⁄8in. (200 x 300cm.)
Painted in 2015
Galerie Bugada & Cargnel, Paris.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2017.
É. Vendrenne, 'Claire Tabouret, Portraitiste Insoumise', in Connaissance des Arts, no. 746, March 2016 (illustrated in colour, p. 99).
Paris, Galerie Bugada & Cargnel, Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog, 2015.
Naples, Villa Campolieto, Così fan Tutti: Artworks from the Collection of Ernesto Esposito, 2021 (installation view illustrated in colour, p. 38; illustrated in colour p. 39).

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Lot Essay

Stretching across a monumental canvas, Claire Tabouret’s Les masques (La vallée) conjures an otherworldly landscape in dusky golden and sepia hues. A masked female figure crouches as if poised for action, her weight splayed between her limbs and taut muscles visible through her catsuit-style clothing. Beside her, the inky limbs of a cactus sprawl skywards. Part of a series titled Les masques (‘The masks’), the work was painted in 2015, following Tabouret’s relocation from her native France to Los Angeles, a move which perhaps influenced its desert-like setting. Tabouret’s techniques play with the materiality of her medium, and the present work’s varying dilutions of acrylic give it depth and dimensionality. The bold and gestural brushstrokes used for the cactus’ tentacles contrast with the washes that drip down from the top of the canvas, veiling the landscape in ethereality. For Tabouret, who was propelled to international acclaim by her haunting and confrontational portraits of children and adolescents, the reflective potential of art and the play between the viewer and the viewed are pivotal: ‘that’s the essence of my activity, a gaze, gazing’ (C. Tabouret quoted in L. Bismuth, ‘“Je veux render visible ces energies las” : entretien avec Claire Tabouret,’ in Claire Tabouret, exh. cat. Galerie Isabelle Gounod, Paris, 2014 p.69). Here, the woman’s piercing frontal stare transcends the twilit scenery behind her, transforming her into a liminal figure. Tabouret’s oeuvre is permeated by questions of identity and individuality, and masks and costumes are recurring motifs in her corpus, serving as a route for the exploration of selfhood. Laced with anticipation, Les masques (La vallée) gleams with an entrancing sense of mystery.

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