Carpenters Workshop Gallery opens a mid-career survey of Ingrid Donat

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Carpenters Workshop Gallery opens a mid-career survey of Ingrid Donat
Ingrid Donat’s most recent works show clear signs of her inspiration taken from tribal art. This is an exploration of her origins and roots from the island of La Réunion.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA.- This September, Carpenters Workshop Gallery San Francisco unveiled Ingrid Donat | Rituals – a mid-career survey of the acclaimed artist’s signature works of functional sculpture. In this long-awaited exhibition, the gallery showcases pieces that demonstrate the evolution of Donat’s work over the course of her 30-year career.

Ingrid Donat was always creating, first during her studies at Paris École des Beaux Arts and later in life when she began making lamps as presents for friends and eventually created larger pieces of furniture for her home. As her children grew, a friend encouraged her to sell her pieces; it was the overwhelming response from this first sale that convinced her that she could turn this talent into a career.

Over these first three decades of her career Ingrid Donat committed herself to continuous technical improvement, material sourcing and historical research into the artists and designers who inspired her. Donat says of her creative process: “I envision my work as a ritual, a structured repetition in time and space from which an energy emanates. Matter, which I carve as one would practice automatic writing, becomes the substance that cements an unconscious belief.” This exhibition shows the variation in her sculptural designs and the wide range of materials and techniques that are employed in her oeuvre.

The exhibition is accompanied by a monograph dedicated to the artist’s work. Written by acclaimed decorative arts author Anne Bony with the input of renowned interior designer Peter Marino, the monograph takes a look at the last 30 years of the artist’s career and offers an analytical perspective of her body of work.

Ingrid Donat’s most recent works show clear signs of her inspiration taken from tribal art. This is an exploration of her origins and roots from the island of La Réunion. Many pieces are decorated and inspired by tribal tattooing. For example, the bronze ‘Table Tribal’ (2015) features inlaid leather disks carved into the piece with decorative relief patterns. The overall style of the piece is reminiscent of tribal tattoos that inspired the artist in the first place.

With ‘Cabinet Klimt’ (2015) bronze, Ingrid Donat designed the work to appear like lace. The strong material of the piece contrasts with the delicacy the artist wants to achieve. Thus, the overall effect is one that is striking, and it requires a closer look. The repetition of circular shapes creates an identity distinct to Ingrid Donat’s work that have become synonymous with her style.

Ingrid Donat has mastered a variety of materials that include rich, natural resources such as bronze and leather. She also incorporates rarer materials into her work such as parchment. Ingrid Donat’s work invokes the majestic spirit of 1920s Art Deco designers such as Pierre Legrain and Armand-Albert Rateau who transformed African tribal design into luxurious works of art. The motifs she engraves recall the animal and fish skins Art Deco artists incorporated into their works to add texture.

There is an intricacy found in her engraving that Ingrid Donat was able to achieve by developing her own precise tools in order to get the exact effect needed. These tools and techniques have evolved over decades along with her style and technical approach.

Throughout her work, we see echoes of Legrain’s wooden ceremonial chairs with their incorporation of symbols and patterns often found in West African tribal art. In addition, there are curves inspired by nature and those of the human body.

Ingrid Donat’s bronze pieces are reminiscent of Armand-Albert Rateau’s decorative engravings of animal, flora and fauna motifs. Both take basic, natural aesthetics and transform them into elegant, finely crafted and highly decorative works. She also admires the detailed patterning of Gustav Klimt’s painting and brings this into her work.

Ingrid Donat’s artistic practice is consistent. Developed and created at Roissy with a team of skilled artisans, her creative process starts with a sheet of wax. She then engraves, carves and shapes the wax to form the design of her work which is then applied to her pieces. The artist engraves the bronzes, paints the upholstery, and treats the wood herself.

An example of the union of these techniques is the ‘Bibliotheque Murale en 5 éléments’ (2008) created in bronze with red parchment. In addition, the ‘Buffet Cisco’ (2015) is a limited-edition bronze that shows the delicate beauty of her engraving with hypnotic circular forms. The continual pattern of shapes and circles is a distinctive trait of Ingrid Donat’s work.

Ingrid Donat was born in 1957, in Paris, into a family of artists. Raised in Sweden she returned to Paris in 1975 in order to pursue her passion for art and sculpture.

Developing her talent quickly, she drew inspiration from renowned artists such as César, Sylva Bernt, her partner André Arbus, and Diego Giacometti who inspired her to start sculpting furniture. In her work you can see the influences of tribal art, the Art Deco movement and organic forms of Art Nouveau. The artist only began to exhibit her work publicly in 1998, presenting a show with more than 20 years worth of work.

Her classic style remains timeless and prevalent in all of her works. She is one of the most important artists in the decorative arts market today, represented for ten years by Barry Friedman Gallery in New York, then exclusively by Carpenters Workshop Gallery since 2008. Her works and private commissions can be found within some of the most beautiful collections in the world. Even if there is only a difference of two hours between Sweden and the Reunion Island, a big cultural gap exists between the two civilizations.

The act of creation is the expression of her freedom. Raised in Sweden, she came to Paris as a young woman to live with her father. In a workshop to prepare her for the entrance exams of École des Beaux-Arts, the Atelier Delarue, she freed herself from the constraints of language and reason. Drawing became her form of expression.

She is fascinated and influenced by tribal art. For her, it is a way to grasp the matter without preconceived ideas, to celebrate a popular art that is naïve as well as having a ceremonial dimension. For some pieces, she draws her inspiration from scarification, which is divided into two distinct categories in African traditions, some are hollow, and others are prominent.

Ingrid Donat’s artistic approach fits naturally into this tradition of working on the skin, on the furniture’s surface, an approach well served by the bronze technique. This material is very important to Ingrid Donat. She likes to exploit its diversity.

She adopts a form of necessary unlearning, in order to re-discover a process that is original, timeless and with a powerful impact. She calls on patterns and shapes that are a kind of DNA, bringing together all the creators, a fundamental link.

From a more figurative representation to a more abstract expression, Ingrid Donat’s work confirms the idea that furniture and objects can be subject to a sensorial translation with patterns that flower on surface.

Ingrid Donat deals with her repertoire of signs: loops, squares, circles, rings, staples, lines, interlacing... repeated and obsessive patterns that take possession of the surface, such as a released litany. A form of rhythmic and regular writing spreading over all the surfaces of the object, on the front as well as on the reverse.

Ingrid Donat carves out her own path as an artist, she chose life as her territory of expression. The piece of art accompanies us in our daily life, a way for her to share her sensibility and to satisfy her taste for conception of a global universe. “What I like is not the piece of furniture, it is the soul of a whole house, the vibes we put inside it.”

Ingrid Donat entered the world of art with humility, hesitant to anchor it to reality, she created sensual and spiritual work. Following an obsessional ritual of creation, she marks the material intuitively as the Estrucans did in the early hours of humanity.

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