09 june 2017
Karen Swami, The sublimated fissure
Karen Swami has her hands in contact with earth, and this, since childhood. Along a brilliant career in cinema, the earth she worked with on her potter wheel installed in her office of movie producer, finally shaped her destiny. Her ceramics are now travelling all over the world and are embellishing the finest interiors of the greatest French interior designers.
She describes herself as pragmatic. She is mostly anchored in earth.
The earth which, passed in her hands, is transformed into slender containers, aspiring to perfection but totally assuming their imperfections as one turns his weaknesses into a force. The beauty of these basins, pots, and pieces with generous volumes, is entirely due to their accidents, repairs, small defects which find their own equilibrium, and does not hamper their harmony.
The earth has always been, for her, a breath. Her pieces are said to be “tender” wabi-sabi, mingei *? Pure chance. It is the resolution of problems, the desire to save parts that are sometimes cracked, the sudden and unavoidable urge to work a color, an energy from within that moves her and plunges her into the spirit of time. Karen Swami is listening to herself, her desires, what passes through her and then gives her hands the duty to translate.
In the 50s and 60s Paris, her father is a fashion photographer. For Karen, enrolled in a pottery course since the age of five, her passion is earth. However, she will attend a major international business school, finds herself in Berlin at the time of the fall of the Wall, in a company in charge of privatizing real estate in East Germany.
She is serious about it ! But her artistic fiber is still vibrating inside her. When returning to Paris, she went to the Ecole du Louvre, which she left behind, finding classes too theoretical. She wants concrete, to knead the real like clay. A detour through real estate, she then spends two years at the Antiques of the Paul Bert market alongside her husband. Becoming a mother, she leaves the earth. Single, she has to work, she falls in the movies industry and becomes in 2003, producer for the company of Ariel Zeitoun, then works with Alain Terzian, defending the interests of the independent producers. She develops business plans, manages the production, delegated or executive, for feature films.
She leaves nothing to chance. And lacks of oxygen! Professional retraining, internship in Montreuil, CAP of clay worker. Her teacher advises her to “work clay” every day. In 2010, she installs her potter wheel and an oven to cook the pieces in her office and takes a “breath” between two phone calls. “The lady in the car with glasses and a gun” by Joann Sfar will be her latest film. The thread of relations will bring the great Parisian decorator, Christian Liaigre, to discover her work, and the first acquisitions by the Christian Liaigre house begin in 2012.
For Karen Swami it is a real revelation. “In life, you spend your time looking for yourself,” she says. And there I had finally found myself. In terms of feeling, it was a bomb! An incredible energy. When I work earth, it sparkles! “. The sparkle will take her to the Rue Victor Schoelcher, the French politician who definitively abolished slavery in France, born like her, on July 22nd.
At number 6, a shop is looking for a taker. It will be her gallery and studio, the place of her achievement. Since October 2014, she manufactures her pieces on her wheel, installed behind the window, in this space covered with shelves and ceramics in jade color, cracked white, carbonic black, in the center of which stands a rocking chair. “I do not necessarily claim a Japanese style, I do what I like! “.
The great names of design and decoration are falling for her creations: the prestigious Alberto Pinto and Bruno Moinard house. In search of carbon black, she discovered that this one can be obtained in ceramic only by smoke. The piece, still raw, must be polished for hours with an agate, cooked once in an electric furnace and then cooked again to almost a thousand degrees, then plunged, incandescent, into the sawdust which it ignites. The smoke then penetrates into the clay. The aerobatics then consists in creating an atmosphere low in oxygen to intensify the black. These pieces often crack when cooking. Karen tried to save them.
She discovered the Kintsugi technique originally invented by Japanese lacquerers
to repair broken parts. If the fracture means for them the end of life, Karen, on the other hand, sublimates the cracks by using vegetal lacquer (urushi) sprinkled with pure gold (kintsugi). “The fissure, the repair of fissures, the sublimation of fissures, in the sense of making weaknesses a force, it imposed on me in a very pragmatic way: I did this to overcome a technical problem and I discovered the concepta posteriori. She planned the future, totally integrating the unexpected in her practice. “My privileged partner is accident,” she says. “The accuracy of gesture is much better than five years ago, so less extraordinary to me. As a result, it is the accident that will surprise me and that draws me into the revelation of something that escapes me. It is the accident that produces the piece. What is expressed comes from elsewhere, I am only an intermediary. Basically, I’m not much for it … which allows me to welcome compliments more easily! “. In her gallery, time goes by, away from the hustle and bustle of the city, in search of the balance of form. At the mercy of pieces, a beauty supplement is born.
Karen Swami céramiques,
6 rue Victor Schoelcher 75014 Paris
Tel. : 06 86 30 99 25