I like what’s in motion, what’s lively, what gives a sense of freedom and, in my work as a ceramist, what escapes from any intention, or at least seems to do so. In that sense I feel close to a fairly traditional form of Japanese ceramic attentive to the language of the clay, to the beauty of the accidents, and where the work of the artist is no longer visible.
The language of the clay
Nature inspires me. I’m fascinated by the complex patterns that one can find on a dried ground, a cliff, the barks of trees, or the crust of bread. These patterns are not random. They form a kind of language created by the interaction of the elements, such as air, water, or fire.
My work with the clay is an exploration of this language. However, as a ‘metteur en scène’ who highlights what he believes is meaningful, I don’t leave the whole story to chance.
When I was in high school, I wanted to be a painter. Born in 1977, I grew up in the very heart of Paris, two hundred yards from Beaubourg. The Centre Georges Pompidou was my playground. Later, when I had to think, make decisions, or just free my mind, I would sit in the museum for hours at a time, surrounded by Sam Francis, Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman, or Pierre Soulages paintings. At that time, my intention was to begin an artistic career. Life took me to a different direction.
After graduating from the University of Paris La Sorbonne and from the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, I went on to teach political science and sociology, and published a well-received book and several scientific articles on the French Algerian war. In 2006, I was awarded the Historic prize of Nîmes’s Academy for my research. I liked that job a lot, not necessarily the life that went with it.
I turned to ceramics when I left Paris for Burgundy. I went there to live an introspective period of writing. Instead, I discovered a potter’s village famous for its living woodfire tradition, Saint-Amand-en-Puisaye. There, I found a lifestyle closer to nature and people. I shared my early years of work with Rozenn Bigot and met some of the potters that had a deep impact on my aesthetical choices, as David Louveau de la Guigneraye.
In 2009 I settled down in Balazuc, a quaint medieval village in south of France considered as one of the ‘Most Beautiful Villages of France’. At this time my work began to travel more and more in museums and galleries in France and all over the world (USA, Japan, Korea, China, Belgium, The Netherlands…). I’m very proud to be a permanent artist at Galerie Atelier 28 in Lyon, France, and at Cavin-Morris Gallery, New-York City, USA, alongside huge artists as Ryoji Koie, Shozo Michikawa, Robert Fornell, Jeff Shapiro, Akira Satake or Tim Rowan, just to mention a few of them.
I have been lucky, as a ceramic artist, to find by accident what later became my signature. I had to unlearn almost everything I knew to improve my technique, and I still learn to unlearn. Make things look natural, as in every art, requires a lot of work. Between control and letting go, a balance has to be found between shapes, scales, volume, textures, and woodfire or glaze effects.
Inspired by traditional Japanese ceramics, as Iga, Bizen, Shigaraki or Mino, my work recalls this culture, as for my bowls inspired by chawans, or my ‘Hokusai mizusashi’ boxes. However, even if I feel extremely close to the philosophy that lies underneath this aesthetics, as zen or wabi-sabi, my work is definitely not an attempt to reproduce the outstanding masterpieces of this history. I rather see my work as a free interpretation of these codes, both inside and outside the canons, close enough to feel this heritage everyday, far enough to let my own sensibility operate aesthetic choices.
Des artistes en quête d’essentiel
Art et Décoration, n°512, mars 2016
Inspirés par leur environnement, les créateurs de la région subliment la matière pour créer des oeuvres uniques.
Balazuc, l’autre vie des villages d’Ardèche
Vous êtes ici, France 24, octobre 2015
Accrochés aux falaises des gorges de l’Ardèche, environnés de garrigue et d’oliviers, Balazuc et Le Viel Audon sont deux villages reculés, que des passionnés ont tirés de leur splendide isolement.
Yann, formateur, et Florine, bénévole au chantier de restauration du Viel Audon, nous font partager leur amour des belles pierres. Ils sont animés par leur volonté de restaurer un patrimoine vieux de plus de neuf siècles et de nous faire redécouvrir des savoir-faire ancestraux.
La renaissance des villages ardéchois a également attiré de nouveaux arrivants, comme Tom, céramiste et parisien repenti, reconverti à une nouvelle vie. La nature, la vie au village : l’Ardèche propose aujourd’hui un choix de vie alternatif, un retour au patrimoine d’autrefois.
L’Art des choix
Ateliers d’Art, n°109, janvier-février 2014
Installé en Ardèche, le céramiste Tom Charbit témoigne combien le paysage, l’art de vivre et l’insoumission des hommes de ce territoire peuvent nourrir la création et offrir un ancrage aussi politique qu’artistique. Quand le choix d’un lieu et d’une façon d’être à son métier entrent en résonnance…
Texte de Tom Charbit
Photographies de Félix Ledru
Let's keep in touch
Wild and elegantRandall MorrisCavin-Morris Gallery, NYC, USA
Fascinating and beautiful. I think I am convertedJan Lewin-CadoganPontyberem, UK
Positively volcanic!Natalie WilsonSydney, Australia
Incredibly prehistoric-looking. That's one of my biggest complimentsRobert F. TrentWilmington, USA
Une force brute avec le matériau craquelé et une certaine élégance avec le choix des couleurs. La combinaison des deux est époustouflanteGaëlle CholletBlois, France
Tout simplement superbe. Je suis émerveillée, émue aussi... De la poésie au bout des doigts !Carol Delage, France
Beautiful in every respect shape, glaze and conceptDawn BurnhamToronto, Canada
Your works are powerfull and naturalMako NishimoriNYC, USA
Breathtaking... You're a perfectionistCatherine GeenenEtalle, Belgique
Sublime!! What else?Eric LecharmeFrance
This makes me want to throw copious amounts of money at you so I can own oneNicole PinkGun Barrel City, USA
Remarkable work!Mark SmalleyCongleton, UK
Vos chawans sont sublimes. La matière brute et en même temps subtilement maitrisée fait de chaque pièce une oeuvre d'artYann LemonnierParis, France
The color and design has an Asian sensibility in the surreal abstract landscapeBobbi Roseman SiegelbaumNYC, USA
Textures are so beautifully and naturally carved, as if something passing by or the wind left them on or as if they were shaped in many years of water workFiliz SahinIstambul, Turkey
Premier sentiment dès la première vue : éruption volcanique ! Magnifique !Lucile ClaraPrivas, France
Your art is intensely beautiful Tom - congratulations!!Michael KirschBalazuc, France
This kind of work makes my heart beat fasterMichelle KatzPheonix, USA
I have never seen a piece that stopped me in my tracks like this just did! I can't even aspire to dream this much awesomeness in textureMatt MabisGarrett, Indiana, USA
Surrounded by beauty---even his cat---Charbit creates even more beauty---such an inspiring site to follow!Bonnie MasseySaint-John, New Brunswick, Canada
Looks Like you put a stick of dynamite in this one. The spontaneous shapes look as if human hands have not touched or created but rather the shape grew from its self. Love itLoren HowardChattanooga, Tennessee, USA
Buon lavoro, il sogno di ogni ceramiste... FavolosoIsabelle FrançoisTorino, Italy
Dear Tom, Your work has been a motivation for some years now. Your works colour and surface patternation of flame and carbon have inspired and fueled my own drives and ideas. Its a good thing to return thanksSim TaylorWeston Super Mare, UK
It's unique! - even for old Japanese masters!Gábor Halupka
Wow! I've never seen anything like this!!! Very very awesome!!!Barb Howard
Beautiful imperfectionBetsie Hilberink
This is sooo beautiful!!! Great work! And the firing method enhances its form!Nina Petrik
Beautiful work, love the forms, colors and texturesCynthia HandAmherst, USA
Stunning!Moira KaminskiLondon, UK
Bellissimi !!!Stefania Domini
I am seriously in awe... beautiful!!Marie Elizabeth BrocklebankWooburn, UK