SCULPTURAL FURNITURE by Jean Servais Somian
Jean-Servais Somian’s series of Les Demoiselles de Grand-Bassam is inspired by the road leading from Abidjan to his studio in Bassam, which is bordered by a seemingly endless rich fringe of coconut trees. He mischievously associates the successive and contrasting sequences of the alluring curvature of the coconut tree trunks --each resulting from a particular combination of exposure to light, wind and soil -- to the Picasso’s iconic ‘Demoiselles d’Avignon’
As one of the young Designer-Makers of African origin who chose to work on the continent, Somian set himself the task of transforming into artworks the fallen coconut tree trunks that cover the ground on the coastland of Ivory Coast. This is a formidable challenge as the wood of the coconut tree has contrasting characteristics of extreme hardness and fragility.
Now on top of his game, Jean-Servais Somian creates series of experimental sculptural furniture -- the Demoiselles de Grand-Bassam -- in which each piece is worked on differently: he carves into the wood, sometimes hollowing it entirely, scrapes it or add elements to it, leaves it naked, waxes or paints it -sometimes in very vivid colour - always negotiating his intervention with the curve given it by the random physical situation of where the tree used to stand. The result is functional pieces that serve as shelving or cabinets or pure sculptures that stand awesomely and slightly supernaturally as high as 250cm.
Les Demoiselles de Grand-Bassam have powerful presence and being around them, which allow them to rejoice in the strength and beauty of the natural material only partially tamed by the human hand.