Paul-Louis Rinuy, Tim Onderbeke
French artist Jean Chauvin (1889–1976) is considered one of the pioneers of abstract sculpture of the early 20th century. His oeuvre is characterized by its highly stylized shapes and pure forms in bronze, wood and plaster, intermediating between abstraction and figuration. He touches on themes such as human animality and sexuality, nature, sensuality, architecture, technology and futurism. Among his contemporaries are Constantin Brancusi, Jean Arp and Ossip Zadking, with whom he exhibited in the 1950s. In 1962 he represented France during the Biennale of Venice.
Throughout his artistic career, Jean Chauvin obsessively photographed his sculptures, and granted these images a certain autonomy. In his photography, Chauvin applied a documentary aesthetic, by which all factors that would project his personality are supposed to vanish in the interest of displaying the sculpture alone, stripped of all circumstance or context. In order to delicately magnify the contrast of light, shadow, colour and material, the works are placed against a solid black or white background in a highly illuminated space. A subtly balanced play of light and shadow reveals graceful surface details and planar shifts.
L’Ombre Atomique is published on the occasion of the exhibition at the modernist house of Atelier Jespers in Brussels (—2 May 2021), curated by Tim Onderbeke. The book presents a selection of the exhibited photographs, alongside exhibition views and a text fragment by Paul-Louis Rinuy from Chauvin’s catalogue raisonné.