Meeting + interview with Kim Lê

Brutal. went to meet the ceramist Kim Lê in her Parisian workshop on the occasion of her solo show from June 14 to 19, 2022 at Brutal. Let's discover his universe through an interview.

What is your background and your training to get to ceramics?
Initially I trained as an architect. After my studies in architecture, I worked for 8 years at the Pavillon de l'Arsenal, an exhibition center in Paris dedicated to architecture and urban planning. I started there as an exhibition curator, then became exhibition manager.
This experience taught me a lot and is of constant use to me in my practice and the management of the workshop: conceptualizing and carrying out a project, building an approach, having the ability to self-criticize, meeting production deadlines, developing communication tools, managing a budget, for example.
While working there, I discovered ceramics through hobby classes in 2017. I started out with an introduction to modeling but was soon drawn to turning and it quickly became a passion. Little by little, ceramics took over architecture and at the end of 2019 I left my job to open my studio in 2020.
Are you self-taught or did you learn from someone else?
Regarding filming, I learned to film for two years, from 2017 to 2019, in weekly classes at the In Girum Céramiques workshop, with Guillaume Taliercio. In parallel with the lessons, to progress more quickly, I settled in a shared workshop in 2018 and this allowed me to practice more outside of my working hours.
For enamel research, I trained from 2019 to 2020 at the Arts et Techniques Céramiques school, with Christophe Bonnard. Since then, I regularly continue to train myself, whether for turning and other cooking methods. So I didn't really have any academic training in ceramics, I trained little by little, according to my desires and my needs.
Do you remember your first play?
I don't remember exactly the very first piece, but one of the first pieces I turned and which I still have at home is a small round bottle, with a matte green glaze. I shot it at the start of my apprenticeship, after missing a number of them. It is awkwardly turned, very thick at the bottom and therefore poorly balanced, but I am very attached to it. Guillaume had let me take it out of the oven, it was the first time that I had opened an oven and discovered the results of firing in ceramics. I remember being very moved. This is one of the important moments in my career that made me want to continue and go further. I wanted to live that every day.
What is your creative and manufacturing process?
I always start by drawing, then I draw in the shapes that I sketch. Then I turn them, I observe, I adjust. I then see how the enamel lives on the form, then I develop these forms, cooking after cooking.
As in architecture, I proceed iteratively. From these forms, I sometimes make series, sometimes they remain as unique pieces. Some come back every season, some don't. I see it as a big construction site. Forms that I prefer to make, I change their proportions, I decline them to assign them different uses, and it's an infinite exercise. Over time, I tend to develop a repertoire of shapes and colors that I feel aligned with.

What inspires you outside of ceramics?

From my background, architecture of course. And in particular modern and contemporary architecture. The work of certain Japanese architects such as the SANAA agency or Junya Ishigami made a strong impression on me during my studies and afterwards. Then there is Nordic design as well: I lived in Finland for a year, in Helsinki during my studies and this experience was extremely formative at all levels. Otherwise the music I listen to in the workshop, the atmosphere of the Parisian streets, the landscapes of the Morvan when the fine weather arrives, are also inexhaustible sources of inspiration on a daily basis, both aesthetically and intellectually.

Can you tell us about one or more books on ceramics or something else?
I recently looked through a monograph by Jasper Morrison, a designer whose work I admire, called “A Book of Things”. It is a publication that traces his work through a collection of objects and above all a succession of stories behind his objects. The texts are succinct, filled with anecdotes and observations on his surroundings, which explain how he came to think of these objects. His way of looking at the details of the ordinary to extract something extraordinary from it is very inspiring.


Public opening
"the soliflores"
Tuesday, June 14, 2022, at 5 p.m.
19 rue Pétion, Paris 11 (Metro Voltaire)

We will be delighted to welcome you to Brutal Ceramics to show you the exceptional work exhibited by Kim Lê.

Talk / Discussion with Kim Lê
Thursday June 16, 2022 at 10 a.m. until 12 p.m.
Ceramist Kim Lê will talk about her career as a ceramist, and answer your questions.

Exhibition / sale "the solifores"
From Wednesday June 15 until Sunday June 19 from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.
19 rue Pétion, Paris 11 (Metro Voltaire)