This Parisian Artist Translates His Work Across Three Ancient Art Forms

When a sentence or phrase is translated from one language into another — and perhaps another, returning eventually to its native tongue — the result is often a completely different set of words whose meaning ultimately remains unchanged. For his Traduslation project, French-Swiss artist Réjean Peytavin has created an objects-based version of this kind of kinked-up inspiration funnel. Peytavin’s multi-step development process typically involves drawing a found vessel, translating it first to carpet and then to wildly textured ceramics, allowing him to move his concepts through a series of physical states, carrying commonality from one form to another, yet ending up with three totally distinct collections of work.

Peytavin often uses the ceramics he’s observed in various museums as a starting point. He first draws or paints an image of the vessel on paper, then sends his drawings to Morocco, where the weavers of the Mabrouka Cooperative translate the images into brightly hued patterns for wool rugs, his imagined vessels clearly defined against their block-colored backgrounds. Once back in the artist’s studio, the knots of the woven kilim carpets are reinterpreted as highly tactile and expressive three-dimensional versions in glazed stoneware. Each wildly different in shape, color, and texture, these objects stray from their original inspiration, yet still retain a palpable relationship and integrity.

The idea for this process-based triptych came from studying the Roman archaeological site of Volubilis in Morocco, where mosaic artworks bore a resemblance to later Berber carpets — suggesting a millennia-old shift across mediums. The body of work also encompasses three of the oldest art forms: drawings, weaving, and ceramics, all of which are part of Peytavin’s research into both ancient and contemporary production systems, and the cultural exchanges they offer. In Milan, Traduslation was presented alongside minimalist furniture by Danish designer Frederik Fialin as part of an exhibition titled Tandems, organized by Oxilia Gallery, but Peytavin’s forms — and the questions they inspire about the fluidity and legibility of a body of work across time — have stuck with us now for months.