Enamelled porcelain
23 x 14 x 10 cm
Unique piece
Work acquired in 2016


Sébastien Gouju

Born in 1978, Sébastien Gouju lives and works in Paris.
Graduated in 2003 from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Nancy.
Represented by the Galerie Sémiose (Paris).

A pheasant pokes his multi-coloured head from an ornate wine pitcher and makes his appearance, challenging the viewer. The ceramic sculpture is based on an unsettling and incongruous association between two elements—a utensil and an animal—generating a multitude of meanings and possible interpretations. The technique of realization and the choice of material used, provides the pheasant with a certain degree of realism. The container, decorated with bunches of grapes and other motifs evoking the world of wine, was originally made using the same method. The figure of the pheasant, as it is here, refers both to hunting and to the culinary arts. Its association with the pitcher and the confusion in terms of scale or size—a pitcher could not physically contain the bird’s body—produces an effect of surprise: one wonders if the situation represented here has not been taken from a fable or a fairy tale.

Sébastien Gouju situates his work amongst the register of daily life, using familiar objects and figures as the starting point for a kind of hybridization that often plunges the viewer into a strange and wonderful world, with echoes of surrealism.

The witnesses of our time, his choice of subjects, objects and motifs translate questions about the relationship between man and nature, the wild and the domestic, albeit in a playful style.

Sculpture also bridges the gap between art and craftsmanship, evoking both a traditional genre in art—the representation of the animal world—as well as forms of decorative art—tableware and crockery—in a somewhat trivial and kitsch fashion, if we refer to the appearance of the pitcher. Sébastien Gouju often makes use of techniques and processes associated with the world of crafts (embroidery, metal, etc.), as is the case for the strange work entitled Parties de cartes (Card Games) from 2013, where an entire game is designed according to the techniques practised by goldsmiths.

The theme of the animal escaping from the container was explored by Sébastien Gouju in a series of works produced in 2015 and can be considered as a fascinating bestiary. This theme also refers to a tradition of table decoration, where dishes represented the animals they contained. These include the extraordinary trompe-l’œil terrines in the shape of animals, produced in Germany and France in the 18th century, visible for example in the collections of the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature in Paris. Does the artist provide the bird—destined to be nothing other than game—with a new and intoxicating form of freedom?

Beyond this question, Sébastien Gouju is especially concerned with the decorative nature of his work. Through his drawings and sculptures, he demonstrates an attention to, and penchant for ornamental forms, and it is these decorative elements that contribute to the facetious dimension of his work.