Keen Souhlal


Through processes of melding, melting, carving, burning, Keen Souhlal reworks familiar materials to create sculptures with new and composite forms, presenting them in unexpected states of transience. Her detailed knowledge of materials, both natural and handcrafted, allows her artworks to display not just their physical properties, but also their symbolic significance grounded in the environments and cultures whence they came. The hands of the artist do not dominate or subdue materials, but instead reveal their plasticity and poetry. Led by the organic forms of her media, Souhlal's practice alternates between a wide range of disciplines, such as sculpture, installation, and photography. 

The artist's latest explorations are rooted in the villages near Bến Tre and the swift energy of Saigon. Her encounters of both a pastoral and urban Vietnam are reflected in how she juxtaposes materials, combining functional items with iridescent surfaces. Through repetitive and meditative gestures - stacking baskets, wrapping paper - Souhlal conveys an appreciation for the humble and the ubiquitous - a purposeful spotlighting of the quotidian moments that pass us by. 

Keen Souhlal (b. 1982, Paris) received her Fine Arts training from the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and completed her vocational training certificate in marquetry at the École Boulle. She has held numerous exhibitions in galleries and institutions in Europe, including La Ronde #5, Natural History Museum, Rouen, France; 16E Édition, curated by Frédéric Bodet, Stéphanie Lefollic Hadida, and Laurence Crespin, C14-Paris, Paris, France; In&Out, Espace Culturel François-Mitterrand, Beauvais, France; Alchimie des matériaux, Centre d'Art Hors-Cadre, Auxerre, France; Itinérance 2017, Musée Dobrée, Nantes, France; Politics of discontent, Irène Laub Gallery, Brussels, Belgium; Topographic 5, Église Notre-Dame des Forges, curated by François Loustau, Tarnos, France; Viva Villa!, curated by Cécile Debray and Federico Nicolao, Cité des Arts, Paris, France; La Amenaza Invisible, curated by Nerea Ubieto, Sala Amadís, Madrid, Spain; 11th Biennale of Young Creation, La Graineterie, Houilles, France; Por Venir, Casa de Velázquez, Madrid, Spain; Precarious Postures, Museum and Gardens of the National Museum of Archives, Paris, France; Intimate Cartography, The 116 Contemporary Art Centre, Montreuil, France; 18th Biennale of Contemporary Ceramics, Musées de Châtearoux, Châtearoux, France; Hand in Glove, Galerie Virginie Louvet, Paris, France; Art and Landscape, curated by Matthew Corradino, Sologne Biennale, Chaumont-sur-Tharonne, France; Conversation with contemporary vestiges, Centre d'Art l'Attrappe Couleurs, Lyon, France; and Myths & Legends, 17th Biennial of Contemporary Ceramics, Musées de Châtearoux, Châtearoux, France.

Keen Souhlal was selected for the Villa Saigon arts residency in 2020 and the Blanc de Chine residency in 2017, initiated by the Institut Français in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and Dehua, China, respectively. Her work is held in a number of private and public collections, including the Contemporary Art Collection of the City of Montreuil, and the Collection of the French Academy of Fine Arts, Casa de Velázquez. 

Keen Souhlal lives and works in Paris.