As a maker, Xavier Clarisse finds inspiration in the process of exploring materials. Trained as a sculptor and product designer, he experiments with a range of techniques from very manual production to modern and industrialised processes. Born in Lyon, France he studied mechanical theory and technical drawing before attending L’Ecole Nationale des Beaux Art in St Etienne, specialising in sculpture and product design. He has worked in France, the UK and now South Africa.
Clarisse is inspired by the local surroundings – both nature and the local aesthetic. The abundant sub-tropical vegetation of Durban, his home town, is reflected in many of his designs where leaf motifs cast atmospheric light. A common theme of his work is the theatricality of the object itself – his designs often employ elements of interactivity, movement and playfulness.
He has developed custom production techniques that allow him to emboss and embellish leather hides, creating works that play with light, shadow and depth – Fracture and Stella are two such pieces highlighting this.
Clarisse’s work is represented in the Durban Art Gallery collection and his interactive, mechanical sculpture, King Protea, is on permanent view in the Presidential Suite at the Moses Mabhida Stadium. His Cabinet of Curiosities was commissioned by the Art and Global Health Centre, UCLA for an international travelling exhibition and is now in the permanent collection of the University of Witwatersrand Adler Museum. He has exhibited with Southern Guild at The Salon Art + Design in New York in 2018, as well as at Intersect Aspen in 2020.