A boat moves slowly through a shadowy sea in Claire Tabouret’s Le Passeur. Alone on the water, people huddle together in the small vessel. Several gaze bravely towards an unseen horizon, towards the future. Le Passeur was painted in 2011, the year the artist spent in residency in Marseille. While there, she spent two weeks traversing the stretch of the Mediterranean separating France and Algeria and from these boat journeys, Tabouret found inspiration for a new series evoking refugee crossings. If her earliest paintings were spare, almost abstract creations, Tabouret’s Migrants foregrounded the figure. For these works, she painted people in search of new beginnings, their boats floating atop darkly sinister seas. This sense of apprehension permeates Tabouret’s practice more generally: her fluctuating images recall the ghostly shadows of early photographs whose muted, unstable tonalities seem almost unmoored from reality. She often draws from archival imagery to begin her paintings, yet this ambiguity extends beyond the content of the work itself to encompass her methods and application. In Le Passeur, the impenetrable greys and aqueous brushwork reveal an uncertainty. ‘Paintings are not dead objects,’ Tabouret has observed. ‘[They] actually evolve—the way you look at it—because you’re going to change … It can be this dialogue that teaches you things your whole life. A good painting for me should be that’ (C. Tabouret, quoted in J. Palumbo, ‘Claire Tabouret’s New Self-Portraits Capture the Fragility of Solitude’, Artsy, 26 October 2020). Indeed, Le Passeur suggests a similar impermanence. The sea brings constant change, the boat moves ceaselessly, the fates of her subjects remain open and in the process of becoming.