Cécile Raynal is a French sculptor who lives and works in Normandy, France.
For several years, Cécile Raynal has had two passions : dance and sculpture. As of 2007 she has focused her work on portrait, scrutinizing faces like veritable geographies and places of endless souvenirs.
The substance for her work is clay. She gives it a great amplitude of motion, has a capacity for improvisation and a remarkable finesse in the detail of its expressions.
Sculpture is for her a way of exploring the world, between documentary and fiction. Thus she often sets up her workshop in remote, forgotten or marginal places, that she goes over and then reconstructs in clay. A prison, a retirement home, a hospital, a convent, a cargo-ship… are among the places in which she invites the inhabitants to pose for her, so as to sculpt their portraits and capture these rare encounters.
Sculpture offers the possibility, in traveling the world, of finding its origins, its structure in a supremely documentary register.
«From either fortuitous or sought after encounters my work stems from a sculpted portrait, a totemic record of each of these confrontations, and builds itself on the complicity, the exchanges and the correspondence that results from them. It's about the encounters and about the places where the encounters happen. These busts, these figures, these portraits imbricate human relation, artistic flair, "the trade of living"»…
And born of these sculpted encounters are the frameworks of blackened and atemporal portraits.
In amongst all the different human portraits will sometimes be those of objects or animals. The latter two being produced in her main workshop in Normandy, in a narrative taking into account mythology, tales, psyche and memory.
Between each residence is the very necessary spent in her proper workshop in Normandy where the firing takes place. Cécile Raynal uses chamotte (grog), the only clay capable of withstanding firing temperatures of 1200º and the subsequent smoking phase. This final stage, inspired by the Japanese method 'raku', imparts the black, grey and metallic aspect on the pieces that make it difficult to determine what the sculpture is made of. The bulk of the sculpture's supports are made of wood or steel.
Her Norman workshop enables her to get away from the outside, to traverse the interior of the sculpture, and develop more shapes, more narratives, more mythologies. In this place off the beaten track, the work commences, recommences, ripens, is embellished, is found and is finalized.
To address Cécile Raynal's sculpture is to delve into the very meaning of an artistic process in which it is difficult to separate art and life.