Introducing the art of Raymond Warren (Interview)

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"With their simple and rounded shapes, my characters, either through the humor that emerges from them, or through movement that animates them, convey our emotions and send us back the image of utopian societies in search of the same answers as us."


Raymond Warren was born in Montreal, Quebec, in

This time, I had in mind to make a big gathering of

1947. His figurines harken back to the primitive

characters with their feet on the ground. To ensure their

beauty of pre-Columbian pottery. They are sculpted

stability, I had to widen the base. The idea came to me to

with finesse, with natural gestures, discreetly

add an object to it. Why not a suitcase? The suitcase, a

bringing us back to our sweetest memories. Warren

beautiful symbolic element, a simple shape with variable

lives in Maniwaki, Quebec.

proportions, a shape that would lead me to dress my characters, thus modifying their shape and, consequently,

Your current work 'Here and There' brings us into

their coloring. I have multiplied the variations on this

the world of travellers, and invites us to explore the

theme. The project has grown. Since then, current events

heaviness and lightness that comes with departing

have come to influence its development.

and arriving. How was the idea ignited and tell us the journey of 'Here and There' to this point?

'Here and There' is cathartic yet visceral, comforting yet

Many of the characters I have created over the years

confronting. How do you achieve that?

have been airborne: stilt walkers, tightrope walkers,

This was not the only challenge of this installation. I also

trapeze artists, or acrobats. Whether on a swing, at

had to harmonize characters of different formats and

the end of a pole or a rope, they escaped the ground.

colors. I also had to adapt to different possible exhibition

"Raymond has pursued the path with heart, developing a signature style that harkens back to the primitive beauty of pre-Columbian pottery. Each of his playful figures bears an opening into the hollow space within, that space where the soul of the artist breathes. In the glowing rounded bodies, in the gestural freedom of tiny hands and flying limbs you can hear the call of the clay as it speaks to him, and to us, of another time – a time when eternal images cradled the soul of the world in our daily lives." - Catherine Joyce, The Low Down.

"These clay beings, sculpted with finesse, with natural gestures, discreetly bring us back to our sweetest memories. Their clean shapes, revealing the essential, first give us a smile and then they make real feelings spring up in us, as if these men, women and children were telling us the story of our lives." Louise Parisien, B. Hist. Art Montcalm Gallery

"To enter Warren's universe is to quickly experience both the heaviness of the earth and its desire for elevation. On the one hand, stoneware clay is a heavy material: Warren's creations reveal the weight of their existence. On the other hand, the necessities of firing force the artist to lighten his pieces by hollowing them." André Lamarre

venues. That's why I made groupings of characters, at once united and separate, much like on different islands in an archipelago. I chose, on the other hand, to keep away from other characters, those with tragic fate, those who flee the unbearable. We will therefore see HERE, in the foreground, travelers who rub shoulders in a place reminiscent of a vast lobby. They are arranged on platforms more or less spaced from each other like drifting ice patches. Then THERE are various groups of displaced people in the background, some walking in line, others parked, seated, waiting. This exhibition project is not a priori a manifesto, it is rather a look at the current world. It is up to each visitor to read it personally. For my part, I find that here and there, people, beyond the fate that favors or overwhelms them, are deeply similar and that in similar circumstances and when time stands still, a shared humanity emanates from them. HERE and THERE, to leave is already to let go a little, to leave things behind. And while waiting for the departure, concerned just as much with what we are leaving as what awaits us, extracted from our habits, cut off from our environment, between two worlds and outside of them, as never otherwise, comes a time when our mind wanders. Our ideals are only built on such journeys within ourselves. It is there that, compelled to be patient, an opportunity presents itself to us to imagine them. Similar to recent projects, the shapes of these characters are simple and rounded, but unlike in previous works these figures are dressed, why? Strangely enough, although in most of my previous installations the characters did not have clothes, they did not express nudity, did not appear naked. Without clothes and accessories, they were just humans. This time, however, it was only logical that, as they are carrying luggage, they would be dressed. 'Here and There' connects to a recognition of the familiar space of a hall (perhaps a train station or airport terminal) but there are no clocks, no screens, no signages, no recognizable furniture... Why not? I believe that an abundance of detail takes away from what is essential: the human being.

"HERE and THERE, to leave is already to let go a little, to leave things behind. And while waiting for the departure, concerned just as much with what we are leaving as what awaits us, extracted from our habits, cut off from our environment, between two worlds and outside of them, as never otherwise, comes a time when our mind wanders."

"In addition, while being hollow, the sculpture must be pierced so that air can escape. I like to think that the two small holes in the eyes of my characters allow the soul of anyone looking at them to penetrate inside them and settle there for a short time."

This traveler, this anonymous character

When will this be exhibited?

moving forward, he hopes, but he doubts.

The exhibition has been rescheduled to

Most of the time, he manages to keep it to

next summer at the Trinity Gallery in

himself and knows how to reassure those


he loves. I learned that the words human, humility, and humor have a common root,

Each figure is hollow, tell us about this.

the Greek word humus, which refers to

All ceramic pieces must be hollow. When

the earth, more precisely the soil.

it comes to a bowl, a cup, you don't pay attention to it, the vacuum corresponding







to the object's function. When it comes to

arrangement, what do you aim for when

making a character, this need for the

creating a space for your characters to

shape to be hollow first appears as a

be displayed?

constraint. I quickly realized that it is, on

I like that the installation represents the

the contrary, an advantage, that it

character’s universe. None of them,

facilitates the shaping. In addition, while

during the short period of the exhibition,

being hollow, the sculpture must be

is a work of art. It is the whole that is the

pierced so that air can escape. I like to

work of art. I like that the characters are

think that the two small holes in the eyes

"at home", that the visitor entering this

of my characters allow the soul of anyone

place feels at once foreign and familiar,

looking at them to penetrate inside them

like Gulliver in Liliput.

and settle there for a short time.

like to make smile. You can work the clay directly with your hands, without tools, without great effort, without making noise. You can work with clay spontaneously, quickly. However, clay only comes to life through firing. Sometimes the momentum is built up from the start, from the initial sketch that reveals the character’s emotion. But even when everything is finished, when the character comes out of the kiln and nothing can be changed, there is still time to create a new assembly, to associate other materials with the ceramic, etc. This is how the installation entitled LA CANDEUR DU CARPENTIER took shape. I developed this exhibit to meet a last minute request. All the characters had already been made. I added wooden structures, easels, ladders to give these characters a second life. You do not use any coloring oxides so the figures have a burnt appearance but the process bestows some coloring effects. There is also the paradox of the controlled modelling and the random finishing results. Share with us some insight into this. Clay is called upon to become, under the action of fire, both fragile and resistant. I chose wood firing. Living in The characters harken back to images of utopian

the countryside made it possible for me. Firing with

societies and awaken something of the child within all

wood is unique. It allows me to forego the use of glaze

of us. What are we searching for that these characters

and to rely, for the variety of textures and colors, on the

can satisfy?

presence, in varying and more or less predictable

Who doesn't need a little more patience, confidence, gentleness, calmness, indulgence and courage? A little more tenderness? A little more stamina? A little more humor? Without being able to easily and simultaneously find all these qualities around us, works of art offer them to us in the form of images, words, music. Diverse and innumerable, they are all possible stops along our journey. Works of art can affect us in many ways: they can serve as well as challenge the established order; they can beautify, they can explain. If my characters are good companions, that's already a lot. What do the figurines satisfy within you and at what stage during the process do you get that feeling? It is said that on the Sixth day God created Man out of a little clay. I like to think that he left all the unused clay there for fun. Clay is a wonderful material that obeys the slightest pressure of the fingers. It’s a heavy material, which I like to lighten; a plain material that I

"Firing with wood is to hope that the image created will be enriched by the expression of fire."

concentration, of smoke, flames

wood that will feed this kiln and

and ashes in the kiln. To call upon

also to transform some of this

fire, to ally with it, is to accept

wood into planks with which to



build sheds where all this wood


will dry. All my seasons are

elsewhere, giving it colors and

modulated in this way: a time

textures in exchange for its lost

for shaping clay, a time for

plasticity. Firing with wood is to

firing, a time for exhibiting, a

hope that the image created will

time for harvesting wood, a time

be enriched by the expression of


fire. Day by day, I make clay

maintaining the kiln...



determines, that








pictures, with the hope that the fire will put them on my Sunday.

What would you say to future generations of sculptors?

You work everyday in a kiln that

I would say: “One day, perhaps,

you built yourself 37 years ago.

clay will be shaped by 3D

Tell us about your work process

printers. I feel sorry for these

and your close alliance with fire.

machines for they will never

Building a wood-fired kiln is a bit


like taking an oath. This is how I

pleasure of grabbing a handful

made a commitment, in a way, to

of clay”. And, finally, I would

to go into the forest to harvest

say:” Bon voyage!”




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