For more than forty years, Jean-François Fouilhoux has passionately explored the nearly infinite potential of traditional Chinese Celadon glaze. Yet his mastery has produced work that can hardly be equated with anything remotely traditional. His celadon alchemic potions, when used on his resolutely—some might even say aggressively—contemporary ceramic objects, form sculptures that the most celebrated celadon artists, curators, and collectors consider to be the purest examples of the supreme living master of this dimension of color, matter, space, light, and time. In Fouilhoux’s mind and hands, the ideal is a work of translucence inside with a satiny and polished outside. Worlds within the galaxies without.
His sometimes-craggy shapes with their stunning jade-like glaze, are writing in clay; signs drawn with an incisive and continuous movement. With a blade or a curve, he may cut with a surgeon’s precision or seemingly slash through a volume of clay, just as the tip of a pencil moves through the surface of paper to inlay it with graphite. This path, this calligraphy, is linear, cursive, and a paradox that he draws within a volume of space and matter. “That's my subject!” His shapes, he notes, “arise from a unique course, without remorse or recovery,” with both an entry and an exit in the clay. They are "graphs in three dimensions, types of ideograms” whose meaning is revealed to anyone with the ability to look and truly be seen. Touch and genuinely be touched. Listen and hear his music. Every gesture that ultimately shapes a piece is associated uniquely to each object, despite its sometimes apparently fraternal twins or more distant cousins. Each movement is a choreography rehearsed mentally and physically time after time before the first action, before the initial sweeping movement. Before the moment the dance begins.
“The rest,” he says, “is just technique.”
Fouilhoux studied at the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Appliqués in Paris from 1962-68. In 1980, he won the Gold Medal at theInternationale Handwerksmesse in Munich, Germany. In 1982, he was awarded the Prix CSC at the Biennale Vallauris, France and in 1998, he was the winner of the renowned Fletcher Challenge Ceramics Award, Auckland, New Zealand. His work is widely represented in museums and private collections all over the world.