In The Flesh: Quentin Garel

Press release
Cuturi Gallery is delighted to unveil In The Flesh, the inaugural exhibition of acclaimed French sculptor Quentin Garel (b. 1975) in London. This marks the gallery’s fourth exhibition at Cromwell Place and Garel’s debut in the UK. The exhibition, which will take place in the beautiful Lavery Studio at Cromwell Place, is also a significant turning point in Garel’s distinguished 25-year career, as he ventures into the realm of human faces for the first time. An exclusive collection of over 15 large-sized works, including rare wood and bronze sculptures will be on display from Tuesday, 31st October to Sunday, 12th November 2023. In The Flesh embarks on a captivating journey that transcends the boundaries of the animal kingdom and delves into the intricacies of humanity’s relation to the natural world.
Inspired by the animal kingdom, Garel employs his craftsmanship to transform blocks of discarded wood, into magnificent sculptures. The overarching Animalia theme presents an endless variety of shapes and forms, constantly challenging Garel’s sculptural finesse. Through his unique creations, Garel gives alternative perspectives of interpreting his work. His hyper-realistic sculptures act as caricatures of animals both faces and skulls, skilfully manipulating selected features to project his own innovations. This includes Mask of the Chimpanzee (2023), where the face of a Chimpanzee is seen isolated from the rest of its body. The menagerie of intricately carved animal busts and skulls encompasses both wonderment and satire. From a contrasting viewpoint, In the Flesh astutely critiques the triviality of man’s fixation on dominating the natural world. 
While communicating the power differential between humans and animals, Garel’s work showcases a perfect harmony between abnormality and execution. Dramatic choices in scale, from an astounding three-meter-long warthog skull - Phacochoerus (2023) to an exaggerated pink flamingo skull - Phoenicopterus (2013), are made with careful precision to create convincing sculptures of palaeontology and taxidermy. Within the backdrop of these sculptures are Garel’s elaborate charcoal sketches, Palimpsest, which grant a glimpse into the preliminary visions of his oeuvre. 
Displaying his unique technique, the unassuming wood grain of Garel’s sculptures is in fact made of bronze, as seen in Elephant III (2021). The internationally renowned artist faithfully replicates the organic textures of wood onto bronze through a meticulous process of concept drawings, wood carving, mould making, and finally, bronze casting. Ultimately, Garel’s ingeniousness gives warmth and character to his bronze sculptures that document and immortalise the finite existence of real and imagined species. Two sculptures, the masks of Chimpanzee and Gorilla, will have both the original sculpture carved in wood and the version cast in bronze installed adjacent to each other, commanding viewers to pause and critically examine the sculptures before making a distinction between the two seemingly identical primate masks. This break in momentum allows audiences to contemplate their realities and role in a burgeoning era of animal rights and environmental activism. 
In The Flesh offers a moment of transformation as Garel takes an audacious step towards human sculpture with the Human Masks I and II (2023). The human sculptures will be standing in juxtaposition to his animals. This dialogue blurs the boundaries between species and invites contemplation on themes of liberty, identity, and our interconnectedness with the natural world.
 In The Flesh will be on view at Cuturi Gallery at Cromwell Place’s Lavery Studio from 31 October to 12 November 2023.