Her visually striking, witty ceramic sculptures and hand-tufted wall hangings incorporate diverse references such as catwalk fashion, carnival, and death-metal iconography, as well as Primitivism and Expressionism – early twentieth-century Western art movements that borrowed heavily from non-Western and prehistoric imagery to find new ways of representing the modern world.
Achaintre’s sculptures often resemble masks. Appearing in cultures throughout the world, masks have the potential to take on a life of their own, conjuring ‘characters’ in the mind of the viewer. The title of this exhibition refers to the mask worn by the shape-shifting French criminal Fantômas, invented by writers Marcel Allain and Pierre Souvestre in 1911. In the 1960s, a TV adaptation of the novel was made, in which Fantômas’ face was hidden by a rigid-looking blue mask. For Achaintre, the mask is a place where fantasy and reality can exist at the same time.
For Fantômas, Achaintre will make a series of new ceramics, accompanied by new wall hangings. She will create the ceramics whilst undertaking a joint residency between the De La Warr Pavilion and West Dean College, an arts and conservation college founded by British poet Edward James, a keen art collector known for his patronage of the Surrealist movement