Claudia Comte - The Big Marble Grumpy Bumpy (2019)
The Swiss artist Claudia Comte (b. 1980) makes sculptures, paintings, murals and installations, in which she combines various visual idioms. Her sculptures of wood and marble are clearly inspired by the modernist work of artists such as Henry Moore and Constantin Brâncuşi, but are also reminiscent of classic American cartoons. Her painted work unites geometric abstraction with optical art (also known as ‘Op Art), in which shapes appear to move or vibrate as a result of the way in which the lines, colours and structures have been applied.
In her often monumental, space-filling installations, sculptures and paintings are positioned against a background of various dizzying serial zigzag motifs, dots or wavy lines that reshape the space, so that visitors experience it in a different and overwhelming way. This strong sensory experience is further reinforced by the dualities that characterize Comte’s practice: nature versus culture, geometry versus organic form, order versus chaos.
Comte works from a 3000 m2 studio in Berlin, which is divided into two spaces, one for painting and one for sculpture. She obtains the wood for her sculptures from the forests around the town in the Swiss Jura where she was born, so as to be certain that the wood is from trees that have been felled for ecological reasons. She cuts these tree trunks with a chainsaw in rough curves, after which a very precise process of sanding and polishing begins, in order to create perfectly smooth sculptures, thus uniting traditional methods of craftsmanship with familiar forms from art history and popular culture.
More recently, Comte has expanded her sculptural practice to include works in marble, using a new machine process in Carrara, Italy. For DELIRIOUS, Comte has made a 280-cm-high sculpture in that same white Carrara marble. It is an abstract form, but here again there are obvious similarities with those rocky desert landscapes in Looney Tunes cartoons. It looked like a somewhat stylized version of a cactus, lost in a woodland park in western Europe.