Makeup artist Karim Rahman enters ceramic class and finds his balance – WWD
Makeup artist Karim Rahman has a must-have new product: clay.
But don’t expect it to show up on models’ faces in her next photo op. He uses it for the ceramic creations that are featured in his latest project, the Hors-Series gallery he opened in Paris with framing specialists Marie-Christine Gautier and Frédéric Duarte.
Opening a space dedicated to ceramics was an outcome Rahman never imagined when he got his hands dirty seven years ago following a friend who had signed up for an amateur ceramics class. . “I was interested but didn’t realize right away that I was a collector. It really hit home when I moved in, packing them all up. That’s when the scale of my thing for vases hit me,” he admits.
A first bowl, the simplest element according to him, was his gateway to the practice of ceramics, which led him to enroll in a five-month course without telling anyone – “not even my assistant,” he says.
What really sealed the deal was the solo practice. “No art director, no stylist, no photographer, no assistant, no colleagues. Just me, my teacher, and the fact that I’m building an object with my hands – the same tool I use as a make-up artist – that won’t be wiped off with nail polish remover,” says the make-up artist, whose work has been photographed by personalities such as Karl Lagerfeld, Patrick Demarchelier and Collier Schorr.
The glazing, too, turned out to be both frightening and attractive to him. “In makeup, if I mix white and red, you would get pink. But here it can go black or bubble up in weird ways because it’s the chemistry, the molecules that made me really dive into science.
At first, he hid his new passion, for fear of looking like a dilettante. He divides his time equally between Paris and his career as a sought-after make-up artist, and the world of ceramics he has built around his home in the Luberon, a hilly region of French Provence.
Going from solo practice to gallery owner was a big part of this process, he says, explaining that shining the spotlight on other ceramicists was essential to the project, because offering only his own creations would have been like “a photographer launching a magazine , but just post your own pictures.
He then formed a trio with Duarte and Gautier, who helped him structure his ceramic work. “I’m used to being surrounded by a team. When I enter my [ceramics] studio, I don’t know where to start. Even if I have 350 plates to prepare, I will make three, go down for a coffee, walk my dog,” he admits, adding that he was finishing promised large orders for restaurants in France and Hong Kong, including a trendy Parisian restaurant. Rose’s Kitchen, before taking a break from commissioning to make way for her more artistic practice.
The gallery, located a stone’s throw from La Samaritaine at 91 rue Saint-Honoré, was previously a showroom for Duarte and Gautier frames. The 270-square-foot white space simply denoted by a lowercase logo — by longtime friend Ezra Petronio — offers little visual distraction, letting ceramics from Hors-Séries’ rotating roster of artists do the talking.
Their intention with Hors-Séries was to present ceramics as an accessible art. “Even though some of the pieces border on sculpture, I wanted utility – vases, bowls, things that have a function in addition to being beautiful to look at – and affordable, so people can dream of it. , but also find the one that fits their budget,” he says.
Coins are attractively priced, starting around $100 and arriving at just under $1,000. Although not a hard limit, Rahman believes that higher numbers “should be justified by rare techniques or thousands of man-hours”.
For their inaugural exhibition, the trio offered white vases as a symbol of this blank page of their respective careers. Flowers from fashionable Parisian florist Debeaulieu – “I used to buy her three vases a week”, admits Rahman – gave life and color to the whole thing.
Among the pieces on display are colorful columns by British, France-based ceramicist Sophy Mackeith; the large undulating vases by American artist Luisa Maisel; Solenne Belloir’s tubular forms, and Margot Dawance’s gravity-defying free forms, which uses drying time as one of its parameters. A range of eye-catching 1960s wood-effect pieces by renowned French ceramicist Grandjean Jourdan take pride of place on one wall, Rahman being quick to point out that these were his personal collection.
The criteria that allow an artist to enter this gallery? Surprise the trio. “Everyone has references but what matters is a distinctive vocabulary, nothing too obvious. This little something that tells us that we are in the presence of someone serious [about ceramics]as Rahman puts it.
Coming soon for Hors-Séries are exhibitions on tableware in March and lighting in September, with perhaps one on beauty objects in July, as a way for Rahman to further connect the dots between his two creative spheres. “Now that you’re going to print it, I’m going to have to stick with it,” he jokes.
While ceramics inspired a different approach to colors and textures in her make-up art, having the gallery as her fixed professional residence also brought her a sense of peace. “It was a way of feeling grounded – pun intended – and being able to stop, take time. There’s something great about putting down your rolling kit and being strapped down somewhere,” he says. “You have a happy man in front of you.”