Here or Elsewhere…

June 10 - July 2, 2017 


Thomas Salet thought of a residency on his very first visit to les BauxdeProvence. Like so many others, he succumbed to the charm of the village and its old stone buildings and ruins. He imagined small ceramic figures placed discreetly here and there; a project on form and content, like a sort of defense of the village by autonomous organic shapes – little sculptures watching over, night and fireflies… This project should be construed in parallel with his exhibits in recent years at the Frédéric Lacroix Gallery, exhibits that have emanated from studies of biomorphic DNA mechanics, unknown organisms from the influence of microscopic biology on our world, or exhibits at the Pannonnica Gallery on his work with organic shapes. And we might ask ourselves: is Thomas Salet truly in the tradition of biomorphic artists?

It is agreed that biomorphic art is “an abstract art where shapes and masses are abstracted preferably from animated objects rather than from inert geometrical objects. Biomorphic or organic shapes are linked to natural processes; they allow the artist to explore the natural world without directly representing it. The resulting art works are characterized by organic shapes, curvilinear figures and abstract images that bring to mind microscopic subaquatic forms of life.”1 Historically, Art Nouveau

Thomas Salet

Ensemble d’éléments en céramique phosphorescente 2012.

has taken its inspiration largely from animal and vegetal shapes. During the first half of the twentieth century, the prevailing artistic movements were those in which figurative art gave way to a pursuit of the universe’s fundamental structures in a spirit of abstraction and geometric rigor. Cubism and abstract art are not particularly inspired by biological nature, and only surrealism echoes Art Nouveau’s interest in life forms – although significantly transformed by the imagination, as the fantastic universes of Salvador Dali or Max Ernst amply demonstrate.

With the development of industrial society the role of Nature in culture and the world view has often varied. Our relationship to living things is constantly changing, and this has an influence on the role played by the representation of living shapes in the various manifestations of artistic culture.

Because the main trend in modern art is nonfigurative and pays little attention to Nature, art historians tend to consider the organic inspiration of some avantgarde artists (sculptors like Hans Arp, Constantin Brancusi and Max Ernst, or painters like Paul Klee and Georgia O’Keeffe) as an anomaly, a resurgence of Romanticism, or an influence of esotericism. Nevertheless, under the influence of surrealism, a biomorphic production did develop during the interwar years with artists like André Masson or Joan Miró. So, in light of the above, yes, Thomas Salet is without doubt a biomorphic artist.

Our era bears the imprint of genetics and molecular biology – yet so anchored within a digital information society that we actually speak of artificial intelligence. Both the digital imagination and ecology are changing our cognitive and artistic relationship with Nature. This has its effect on the artistic imagination in contact with Nature, opening up possibilities for a wealth of metaphoric fantasies. We will discover Thomas Salet’s fantasies created out of chamotte clay (also known as grog or firesand) during his residency in the Serra workshop, at an exhibit in 2017.


Sylvie Caron

Curator of the exhibition 



1. Simon Diner, in Biomorphism in the modern artistic culture, Nancy, october 2007.

© Matthieu Faury