Studio view detail, 2018, plants, aluminium foil, wax, perfume, photograph of nude
Born Abbeville (FR), 1988
Morgan Courtois’s work directly addresses the senses and the sensual. For the first time working just figuratively, he models larger-than-life nudes of slender boys. Lying on a sofa, sitting on a rock, or standing provocatively, the boys seem aloof, disinterested, or half-asleep – yet their poses hint that they might be enjoying the aftermath of sexual ecstasy. It is no wonder that Courtois’s erotically charged nudes take some inspiration from Bernini’s morbidezza technique: the Italian sculptor’s miraculous imitation of skin texture in marble. Interested in botany, textiles, and the symbolism of flowers, Courtois uses these elements to adorn the nudes, and in doing so enhances their inherent energy. In recent years, Courtois has moved away from an abstract, minimal approach to art, and has come to embrace the figurative and decorative. A theatrical set surrounds one of the sculptures, a nude inspired the taboo-breaking, male erotic work of photographer Vincenzo Galdi. The poses of the two ceramic pieces are inspired by the work of Baron von Gloeben, a photographer who portrayed naked boys in the lush environment of the Sicilian town Taormina. This inspira- tion always happens in dialogue with Courtois’s own photographs and photos from the internet, as well as books and drawings from the Rijksakademie collection. Although no scents are actually evoked by the works themselves, unlike previous work by Courtois, one can visually smell decaying flowers and bodily fluids – as well as a strong hint of longing – while walking among the nudes.