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"A Floral Chair"
Marc Courtemache, "A Floral Chair", 2010, stoneware, 33" x 16" x 16".
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Marc Courtemache, "Clamp", 2013, metal and stoneware, 2" x 16" x 4".
By Portia Priegert
You might be able to tap in a finishing nail with one of Marc Courtemanche’s hammers, but it would be risky to pound anything much larger. While Courtemanche’s sculptures may look at first glance like ordinary hand tools, they actually are partially made from clay.
Courtemanche, who lives near Buckingham, Que., wants his art to draw attention to how ordinary objects are made and function. He typically replaces a tool’s wood components with clay, leaving metal fixtures intact. He also creates chairs in a similar way – adding real leather cushions to a ceramic frame, for instance. Interestingly, he adapts woodworking techniques to ceramics, making clay boards that he sands and carves, or even glues or screws to another component, pushing the boundaries of clay as far as he can.
“It creates tension or confusion in the viewer,” says Courtemanche, who likes to create puzzles for people to resolve. Is a chair a chair because it looks like one or because someone can sit on it? In effect, he is driving a nail into a central conceptual conundrum within contemporary art – the nature of the real versus the representational – as well as challenging conventional distinctions between art, craft and manufactured objects.
Courtemanche, who was born in Sudbury, Ont., has been fascinated with tools since his youth and trained as a mechanic after high school. He eventually decided to study art, and earned a Master’s degree in 2001 at the University of Regina.
Marc Courtemanche is represented by the Slate Gallery in Regina and the Darrell Bell Gallery in Saskatoon. His work is priced from $150 to $15,000.