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Being a figurative painter in our contemporary times is a hard task to overtake. In a society that is constantly looking forward towards the unknown future, it is of fundamental importance to look back and learn from past greatness. Claire Tabouret confronts the abstractness of our “likeness society” creating beautiful images filled with ancient reminiscence and referential appearances, combining artificial palettes with earthly hues to express both contemporary freedom and ancient truths. 

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French born, Los Angeles-based painter Claire Tabouret was formed at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and at the Cooper Union in New York. Ever since her graduation in 2006, Tabouret has been pushing the boundaries of figurative painting, creating beauty out of well measured compositions and using her expressive colour palette to communicate a feeling of both theatrical movement and introspective quietude. 


Claire Tabouret, Makeup (Green Dots), 2021. Acrylic on canvas.


In her paintings, Claire Tabouret takes a close look at the identity of her subjects, unveiling their enigmatic individualities and creating a feeling of isolation from collectiveness, constantly focusing on the vulnerability existing within human relationships. Thoughtful brushstrokes and layered surfaces show the artist’s ability to alternatively give-in to her productive urgency, while as well leaving space for moments of quiet reflection in which Tabouret carefully meditates the next brushstroke gesture. An interesting matter comes up when looking at Claire Tabouret’s colour palette, a clever mixture of both artificial and natural hues, referencing the fictional and factual truths of representation. Washed and hydrous palettes are used by the artist to create an ethereal feeling, in which earthly tones, of ancient temperatures and reminiscences, are combined with those synthetic hues that remind the viewer about makeup and artificial aesthetics.

The settings in which Tabouret’s expressive outputs are allowed to break free, give us the idea of washed colour fields where the possibilities of “anywhere” and “site specific” are yet to be chosen, creating a feeling of stillness that allows the viewer to focus on the subjects’ individualities, more than on their collectiveness or on the reasons that brought to their gathering. Layers, transparencies and opacities, as well as details, brushstrokes and an unquestionable technique, show Claire Tabouret’s maturity in terms of decision making, courage and painterly freedom, creating a feeling of a forward looking figurative aesthetic in which the freshness of her artificial palette combines with the depth of her referential belonging; enhancing dialogues with the past whilst communicating to the contemporary viewer.  


Claire Tabouret, Makeup (Red and Blue), 2016. Monoprint on paper.


In the times of artificiality and conceptualisms, being a figurative painter is no doubt an impervious path to enter. Claire Tabouret overtakes the present rejection towards figuration, expressing beauty out of past truths and compositional lessons, using courage and artistic freedom to communicate the uncertainty of our individual future. 


Claire Tabouret, In Between Us (Orange), 2018. Acrylic and ink on paper.


Claire Tabouret, To Be As One (Pale), 2018. Ink on paper.


Visit Claire Tabouret at Massimo De Carlo Gallery, Milan - Portraiture One Century Apart.

Cover image: Claire Tabouret, The Dancing Shadows (yellow), 2018. Acrylic and ink on paper. 

Written by Mario Rodolfo Silva

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