Saturday, January 23, 2016

Karine Benvenuti: ceramicist/sculpltor

Karine is an artist after my own heart.  If I weren't so wayward I am sure we would see each other more often. 

For her artist's biography let me begin by stating that Karine was born in Marseille in 1959,  lived for some years in Canada , then Paris and has now settled to work and live in the South of France.  

When I met Karine and Olivier as a couple, they were living in a small village outside of Nice and Karine had already begun the study of ceramics.    But for the last ten years her work has gone from strength to strength and she is now creating unusual and powerful works in clay

Karine started with a classical education,  learned to work the ceramicist wheel,  then left both traditional worlds behind to throw herself into an art form which is becoming a fresh statement of our times...  that of contemporary sculpting of earth, of clay.   You could say that she works the soil of France like her French forbears.

It is certain that Ms Benvenuti's art is influenced by nature which creates for me a primordial attraction to it.  She starts with nature's panoply of clay soils( some very difficult to come by),  and searches out the hidden secret in each... its foibles and its hidden offerings. 

Karine invents tools and methods,  often using just the force of her own body to pummel the clay towards or against its natural inclinations.  The results are a variety of shapes and forms whose textures call out to be caressed and explored. 

There is a noted subtlety of glazes and enamels in the work.  My guess is that the art is even more about the tending of the fires; the movement and gesture of creation;  the conflict between artist and clay.    With most abstract artists one starts out with an idea of where you want to go but the material may say otherwise.  I imagine it's that way with the material of earth. 

Karine was awarded the prize of the Ateliers d'art de FRance for her oeuvre, Matrice, at the International Biennale of the nearby village of Vallauris a few years back.  

The large sculptures of Karine Benvenuti ( and some of her smaller objects) can be seen at l'Ancienne Poste Gallery, (an hour an a half outside of Paris) which specializes in contemporary ceramics. .    You can also visit her website at  for more information and some fine photos. 

And for those who would like to own a smaller piece ,  Karine has some of those works available at her studio in Contes.  These include porcelain tea and coffee bowls and a line of neck pieces on ropes ( I hesitate to call them necklaces). 

My coffee bowl   photo by Mary M Payne

 I use a Karine Benvenuti coffee mug in the mornings.   Monsieur, aficionado of rare green teas, has two small tea cups of Karine's of which he is quite fond.   I also own a small Benvenuti piece that reminds me of all the elements of earth.  

Sculpture by Karine Benvenuti  photo by Mary M Payne

Here are some photos of my recent visit to the studio that Karine shares with Olivier Planchon in the village of Contes.

Mas in which is found" l'atelier de Karine Benvenuti et Olivier Planchon", Contes  photo by Mary M Payne
Entrance to studio of Karine Benvenuti, Contes    photo by Mary M Payne

Thierry, Patrick and Karine Benvenuti in atelier of Karine     photo by Mary M Payne

Necklaces and earrings designed by Karine Benvenuti   Photo by Mary M Payne

Friends admire the texture of Karine's neck piece.  photo by Mary M Payne
Work of Karine Benvenuti    photo by Mary M Payne

A row of tea bowls by Karine Benvenuti  photo by Mary M Payne

Sculpture by Karine Benvenuti    photo by Mary M Payne

Sculpture by Karine Benvenuti  photo by Mary M Payne

Containers by  Karine Benvenuti  

sculpture by Karine Benvenuti  photo by Mary M Payne
I call this one the "hippo"....  Studio of Karine Benvenuti    photo by Mary M Payne

bowls and small sculpture of Karine Benvenuti     photo by Mary M Payne

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