Claude Cattelain was born in Zaire and lives and works in Valenciennes and Brussels, Belgium. He is an artist- performer and sculptor, often combining the two in order to perform sculptural feats using his body as a tool or active participant in the creation of a work. He thus actively demonstrates the role of an artist as a force in the world and as a metaphor for human strength, will and endeavour, attempting the impossible, struggling to overcome obstacles. He uses his body as an instrument to make images, to create sculptural form, but also to test his strength, balance, and powers of concentration. He often puts himself in situations where he undertakes tasks which are nearly impossible or fruitless, but the effort to complete them creates tension and drama. His work explores some of the fundamental visual languages of art, such as balance, symmetry, proportion, line, form. At one level it is about sculpture and drawing, but using the body and a limited range of formal tools and structures. claudecattelain.com
‘Colonne empirique en ligne
For the performance ‘Colonne empirique en ligne’, he reconstructs a horizontal line of white Ytong blocks into a vertical column, moving them one by one from their ground line. In doing so, his body must not touch the ground, so the column becomes both his task and his perch. His balance is increasingly perilous, grasping the next block becomes ever more challenging and eventually impossible. Here it is being performed in Norwich in 2014 as part of a European cross-channel ‘Interreg’ funded programme ‘Time and Place’. fabrica.org.uk
‘186 cm Underground’
This is a work (the title relates to the artist’s height) which the artist first performed in Brussels in 2012. Using a heavy mallet, he drives a stake as far as he can into the ground. It is both a metaphor for life and death, and a trial of strength. This version was made on the coast at Sheringham in 2013, as part of an Art and the Sea programme commissioned by the Sainsbury Centre at UEA, and funded by The Crown Estate. claudecattelain.com
Claude Cattelain has had over 30 solo exhibitions and is very frequently included in group shows. His large-scale sculptures also explore elements of risk and balance, often seeming to defy gravity. He works in wood and metal to make huge constructions.