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May 26th 2024 
Contemporary art

Andrea Tricarico

Sculptures, Daniel Pontoreau tells his story at the Galerie Berthet-Aittouarès

Daniel Pontoreau's workshop, © Odile Aittouarès, courtesy Galerie Berthet-Aittouarès  

Galerie Berthet-Aittouarès on the Rue de Seine in Paris is currently hosting a major retrospective of the evocative sculptures of Daniel Pontoreau. Entitled "Sculptures," the exhibition, curated by Michèle and Odile Aittouarès, brings together the French master's ceramics, transforming their Parisian gallery into a mineral theater. Born in Paris in 1947, Daniel Pontoreau met the collector Monique Fausto in 1968, who encouraged him to pursue his artistic research. After a few years, his artworks were exhibited in major Parisian institutions, including the Salon de Mai, the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles, and the Jeune Sculpture. This was in 1971. A year later, he won the special prize at the Vallauris Ceramics Biennale. In the early 1980s, he accompanied the choreographer Kilina Cremona to New York and Montreal, and in the early 2000s, he began exhibiting in prestigious Japanese galleries in Kyoto and Nishinomya. After this necessary sequence of names and dates to best describe the international renown of our interlocutor, we leave it to the artist's words to tell us about "Sculptures," inaugurated by Galerie Berthet-Aittouarès on May 24th and exhibited until June 29th, 2024.

Three questions to the artist Daniel Pontoreau: 

Over your artistic career of more than 30 years, it can be said that you have been inspired by, or more generally linked to, the great artists of Arte Povera and British sculpture. Who are those you can define as your masters? And why?

"My interest in British sculpture lies in the variety of mediums. The British sculptural tradition does not use much terracotta, while Arte Povera artists prefer it, both because it is not such a rare and noble material, and therefore in line with the philosophy of the movement, and because it is historically rooted in the Italian artistic tradition. I believe that artists have different research axes depending on their country of origin. Artistic research goes in many directions. I was not inspired by any particular artist; it was rather the overall movement of this historical period that inspired me. We belonged to the same generation of artists who embodied a break in the sculptural tradition."

Griffures, 2020. Refractory clay – 35 x 24 cm each. © Daniel Pontoreau, Courtesy Galerie Berthet-Aittouarès

How were the artworks in the exhibition created? Were they designed to be exhibited by the Galerie Berthet-Aittouarès?

"The artworks I am presenting in this exhibition were not created specifically for it. Odile, Michèle (respectively the gallery director and founder) and I chose them specifically for this space. I found a point of articulation that provokes a global vision of the exhibition. The way I organize my artworks leads to a movement of the spectator who does not remain fixed on one artpiece. They are not cut off from each other and the spectator goes back and forth between them, while they, immobile, merge with the space that surrounds them. My specialty is to provoke a change in the course of a real place."

One could qualify your creative process as wonderfully intimate. How important is the first approach to the raw material in the realization of the final artwork?

"The raw material is very important in some of my final artworks. They are composed of natural elements. On some sculptures, I add pieces of clay that I have extracted from the quarry and I cook them, but I do not touch them. The material is raw. I add sensitivity to the material by working and transforming other aspects of the artpiece in a spontaneous way. The treatment of the artworks is a subtle process. As you can see, my artworks are the staging of a mineral theater. It is the stage of a theater composed of mineral elements. The human component is very present in the way I create my artworks. The work of clay is direct, with a very strong physical impact, to which I then add subtle and delicate elements."

Daniel Pontoreau, Paysage horizon, 2017, terre réfractaire, porcelaine, 25 x 40 x 20 cm, ©

Paysage horizon, 2017. Refractory clay and porcelain – 25 x 40 x 20 cm © Illès Sarkantyu, Courtesy Galerie Berthet-Aittouarès

Pierre en suspens, 2020. Terracotta and feldspath – 115 x 85 x 35 cm

© Daniel Pontoreau, Courtesy Galerie Berthet-Aittouarès

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