Philippe Bousquet is a multidisciplinary artist and designer from France, who has been living in Johannesburg since 2004. He is known for his intricately constructed jewel-like sculptures and poetic assemblages incorporating found objects, but his talents extend to painting, ceramics and photography, and he moves freely between them all.
Born in Marseille in 1964, Bousquet graduated from the École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Marseille in Luminy in 1989 and practised as an architect for seven years. He left the profession in 1996 with a desire to return to hands-on making and taught himself silversmithing, exhibiting in contemporary jewellery galleries in France and attracting significant national recognition. In parallel with the jewellery, he began making sculptures in silver and gradually transitioned towards working as an artist full-time.
Bousquet is an inveterate observer, thinking deeply and critically about the world around him. After relocating to South Africa, he moved away from working with precious metals, opting instead for found objects and the language of assemblage art. He began making toy-like sculptures, lamps and small pieces of furniture from scrap metal sourced from factories, junk shops and antique dealers, often with no welding or new components. The humour and simplicity of the works struck a chord with people when they were exhibited at Design Indaba Expo in 2008 and 2010.
With an expert eye and through the clever orchestration of disparate parts, Bousquet’s assemblage works have evolved into elliptical poetic tableau. His 2017 solo show at Southern Guild, Between Dusk and Dawn, brought together over 100 thought-provoking paintings and sculptures made from salvaged elements – both precious and junk – combined with pieces he created himself in ceramic and bronze. His current work veers towards abstraction, which he believes is the purest way to embody the idea or act of creation.
Bousquet has taken part in various group and solo shows around the country and his work has been bought by private collectors in the United States, Australia, France, Germany, England, Japan, Honk Kong, Belgium and Switzerland. He created one of his one-of-a-kind chess sets from precious stones and found metals for Xigera Safari Lodge in Botswana.