French artist Jean-Marie Appriou creates sculptures, reliefs and installations that engage with materials derived from the earth, such as clay, glass, bronze, zinc and aluminium. Appriou has created a substantial body of work referencing folklore, belief systems and traditional craft techniques. Appriou’s expressive sculptures often feature roughly worked surfaces, recording the laborious making processes. Appriou taught himself smelting, forging, woodcarving, fur-tanning and casting, often from online tutorials, manipulating the materials in his own in this way using a trial-and error approach.
The resulting sculptures offer a complex reflection on the absurd poignancy of such a manual approach in our contemporary digital age. His sculptures appear archaic and mythical, yet offer a highly personal cosmology, full of the artist’s own experiences. Appriou weaves together an extensive range of cultural references, notably pop music, space exploration, prehistoric landscapes and astrology.
Jenna1 (2016) represents a giant hand, in whose palm rests a leafy branch and three large droplets, highlighted in gold. The work was first carved from wax, covered in plaster, then cast in aluminium. The palm faces the viewer in a gesture of openness and humility, with the three droplets opening up intriguing symbolic and narrative possibilities: they could be tears, dewdrops, rain or blood. Here, the human body stands intrinsically connected to natural processes. The work alludes to mythic transformations, where the body becomes a hybrid of the inanimate and the organic.