10 / JEAN-PAUL GOURDON



01.
    It’s hard not to be captivated by the complexities of Jean-Paul Gourdon’s exquisite ceramic sculptures. As we pour over images of his work spread out across our desk, there is an instinctive desire to reach out and trace a finger along the edges of his pieces, seeking to feel out each delicate ridge, ripple & dimple of his glazed earthenware.

02.
    Born in Marmande, France in 1965, contemporary artist Gourdon originally honed his skills as a potter, before officially becoming a ‘modeler’; combining his passion for horticulture with his artistic flair. His career as a ceramicist has spanned decades, and over time he has effortlessly refined his style so much so that when coming across his work on antique tables, one instantly can point and exclaim cheerily ‘Oh, a Gourdon!’ His work is so elegantly recognisable, it is as if one is crossing paths with an old friend.
     Each of Gourdon’s pieces radiates a long lost romanticism, each small sculpture has such intricate & delicate detailing. His flora and fauna inspired sculptures are complete with trickling leaf veins and the graceful folds of weathered husks & pods.

03.
     Much of Gourdon’s work is veiled in his signature milky-white glaze, it is luminous, soft, and creamy; evoking the sensation that each piece is drenched in the purest of silks; minimal, but oh so indulgently luxurious. His vegetable sculptures are creatures of etherial beauty. Gourdon manages to capture the effortless magnificence of nature, immaculately preserving their sophisticated features.

04.
    His piece ‘LARGE CÉPE’ (Wild Mushroom) is an example of Gourdon’s extraordinary ability to present something so ordinary in such an elegantly charming way - he glazes the head of the mushroom, allowing its hollows to swell with the whitewash whilst he leaves the underbelly of the fungi un-glazed, raw and rough to the touch. Creating a sculpture that combines both the hard, earthiness of nature as well as the stunning structures of their anatomy is a crowning illustration of Gourdon’s craftsmanship.

05.
    Perhaps one of Gourdon’s most impressive pieces is his mixed-glazed cauliflower
- the level of detail is astonishing, pure perfection laces this exquisite replica. One might never envision a cauliflower as a concept of beauty - but Gourdon certainly contests that idea. Each ceramic in his vegetable collection is inspired by his own personal kitchen garden nestled in the hills of Southern France; he spent years of his life curating a nursery of fresh & vibrant vegetables. Each legume that inspires his ceramics he worked hard to nurture and grow and this care is reflected in his ceramics.

06.
    As well as a collection of ordinary garden vegetables, Gourdon is famed for his tableware such as graceful tureens and his smaller sculptures including an outstretched elegantly leaping hare, or the humble snail perched on an unglazed log. The 16cm tall snail sculpture is a story of subtlety, the pearly shell so perfectly rounded, smooth and glowing, atop this rugged and course balk; it itself is a love letter to the unsung heroes of the undergrowth.
    It’s hard to come by an observer of his work who can not appreciate the impeccable meticulousness & precision that has been carved into each of his pieces; which is why so many sculptures decorate the tables and shelves of some of the finest antique shops across Europe.

07.
      However with his beauty comes a tone of melancholy, a tarnish of sadness coats much of the work made from Gourdon’s hands. He is widely known for a past freckled with anguish and sorrow; reflective in his ultimate desire to chase perfection. Gourdon refused to sign any of his pieces that didn’t meet his specifications, so unimpressed by his efforts that he would disown anything that wasn’t flawless. One can draw a line from his mind to ours, cross-sectioning similarities when it comes to perfectionism and the desire to create art without a single blemish of fault.

08.
    Gourdon is a master at taking something seemingly familiar and conserving it’s hidden beauty - cherishing it for lifetimes to come. We dream of minimal tablescapes decorated with Gourdon’s pure & glossy frosted garden vegetables atop it, among Fir branches & white peonies.

You can view Gourdon’s work here.

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