Galerie Elisabeth & Klaus Thoman is pleased to present the first solo exhibition with Swiss born artist Mai-Thu Perret. Pièces Enfantines comprises new sculptures and wall objects made of glazed ceramics, a group of abstract Gouache drawings and a cloth whale floating in space. Since the late 1990s, Perret’s work has evolved around the project The Crystal Frontier, a fictional narrative about a group of feminist activists who form an autonomous commune in the desert of southwestern New Mexico to escape capitalism and patriarchal conventions. This ongoing narrative serves as a background for Perret’s artistic work, whose broad net of references ranges from literature, the craft-oriented movements of the late 19th century, the avant-gardes of the 20th century to the spiritual and poetic.

The glazed ceramics created only this year, whose witty titles the artist borrowed from a Zen manual, are the result of Mai-Thu Perret’s direct physical interaction with the material clay, which in turn is based on a millennia-old tradition of craftsmanship. The wall objects show a relief-like tactile quality, resembling paintings in their nuanced colouring and hanging. With the work A Russian Doll (2018), a three-part sculpture made of glazed ceramic, Perret negotiates the relationship between monumentality and the human body. She takes up a motif from folk art that traditionally recalls motherhood and reproduction; associations with sarcophagi or grave vessels could arise.

The title of the exhibition Pièces Enfantines evokes another dimension of Mai-Thu Perret’s works, namely that of the childlike. Leviathan II (2013), a space-consuming stuffed whale (2013) inspired by Herman Melville’s classic Moby Dick, as well as the Russian Doll bring up associations with children’s toys; just as the free, seemingly playful use of clay in the work In the end you cannot change the fact that ginger is hot (2020) can be related to childlike shaping of clay.

Perret’s practise of using and combining different sources in terms of both aesthetics as well as its content, can also be observed in the group of abstract drawings, namely her Bible drawings (gouache, acrylic and pencil on paper, 2017). The motifs are close to Indian tantric painting and to the works of the spiritualist painter Hilma af Klint, however, they are also reminiscent of the Dadaist’s mechanomorphic images. Drawing on various sources, Perret creates her own visual language and new spaces of association.

Mai-Thu Perret (* 1976 Geneva, Switzerland) has been exhibiting internationally since the early 2000s. Her works have featured in numerous solo exhibitions, a.o. at Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe (2019), Spike Island, Bristol (2019), MAMCO, Geneva (2018), NICC, Brussels (2017), Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas (2016), Aargauer Kunsthaus, Aargau (2011), Haus Konstruktiv, Zürich (2011), The Aspen Art Museum, Aspen (2009), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2008), Kunsthalle Sankt Gallen (2008), The Kitchen, New York (2008) and Bonnefanten Museum, Maastricht (2007). Participation in international group exhibitions, recently at Times Art Center Berlin (2019), DePaul Art Museum, Chicago (2019), Fondation CAB, Brussels (2019), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2018), Kunsthaus Zürich (2018), Kunsthalle Basel (2018) a.o. Perret’s work forms part of the collection of many major institutions. She lives and works in Geneva.


VIDEO Mai-Thu Perret and John M Armleder in Conversation: Representing Feminist Social Utopias