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I THINK I SEE IT – Interview with Nicolas Lefeuvre

Why shine by your presence when it is so much more elegant to shine by your absence ?
Nicolas Lefeuvre

As indicates the name of his exhibition SELF ARCHEOLOGY, Nicolas Lefeuvre is an archeologist – questioning not only himself but the whole human being, diving deep into his own emotions to transport us into a world of light, depth & mindfulness.

Working mostly with ink, from deep blue to dark, paper & objects, Nicolas Lefeuvre will be exhibiting in Singapore through a retrospective of his recent artworks SELF ARCHEOLOGY, LAND(E)SCAPE & THE STATE I AM IN.

While waiting to experience his work in person from Nov. 5th to 28th, as part of the vOilah! France Singapore Festival, let’s discover our conversation with the artist!

« Trop de couleurs distrait le spectateur » ( « Too much color distracts the viewer » )
Nicolas Lefeuvre

Younger, you studied at Beaux-Arts in Rennes and architecture/ product design in Paris. Have you always wanted to be an artist? How did you get this taste for art?

I do not know if I have always wanted to be an artist, but I know I always wanted to draw and paint. I was a shy child and it helped to express myself!

You finally left France after graduation to travel for almost a year all around Asia. You opened in 2001 your first creative studio in Singapore before becoming Head of architecture and design for CHANEL Asia Pacific a few years later. Where did your interest in Asia come from and what did this experience bring to you in an artistic point of view?

In 2000, in France, was released the beautiful film “The Vertical Ray of the Sun”. I booked a flight ticket to Vietnam right after I watched it.

I really admire the Asian diversity in people, culture, landscapes, history.. Asia is also full of positive paradoxes. Finally Asia taught me the art of ink.

Looking back, what did these 14 years spent at Chanel bring you in terms of creativity? How did these years shape the artist you are today?

Chanel taught me rigor, slowness, the love of a well done work, and the great tip of always looking at things differently.

So now, time plays a big role in what I do. Also, Chanel influenced the way I am using the best ingredients to make my own ink, and injected craftsmanship in my creative process.

And now, what is a typical working day like for you? What do you like the most about what you’re doing?

A typical day is made of mindfulness first. I usually go swimming in the sea, early, all year long: it kind of purifies me for the rest of the day. Then I put on some music (baroque, electronic, …) in order to set up a soundtrack for the rest of the day, while mixing inks, writing, painting, observing, …

[…] inspiration is guided by people I meet, places I go and experiences I go through […]
Nicolas Lefeuvre

Clementine de Forton Gallery will be exhibiting, from Nov. 5 to Nov. 28, 2022, a retrospective of your recent artworks, including SELF ARCHEOLOGY. Can you tell us a bit more about the project and the meaning behind? What can visitors expect to see from SELF ARCHEOLOGY?

In 1987, 1988, I buried two boxes in the garden of my grandparents’ house, in the countryside, filled with objects dear to my heart at that time. With a desire to leave stains, traces, almost in an archaeological way. I never dug them up. So then, one day in 2020, while painting, I decided to hide sketches and messages in pieces of linen which I used as tools, and mounted them on the artwork.

I did so in order to go against the tide in an age where, on the contrary, you have to show off and glorify your life in order to exist. A time when you have to be fully transparent so as not to be criticized…

I love the opposite, the concept of “mystification”, and I regret that it is not more prevalent around us, in media, in art, …

Why shine by your presence when it is so much more elegant to shine by your absence?

Unveil nothing, indeed, remain mysterious… I love mysteries as they beget wonder.

How do you proceed when you start a new artistic project?

I travel, I write down, I sketch and I record mentally lights, sounds, impressions which are important to me at a precise moment. Everything comes as in a storyboard for a film. Then there is a period of few months of creative process development. And I finally wake up, one morning, knowing exactly where I should go.

You are using mostly dark colours, from deep blue – as we can see in The Land(e)scapes series – to black, shaded or not. Why are you exploring these colours in particular? What drove your choices for both The Land(e)scapes series and SELF ARCHEOLOGY?

Jacques Tati said once « Trop de couleurs distrait le spectateur » ( « Too much color distracts the viewer » ). I go towards this direction : I do not want to “disctract” people, I want to give them hints, I want to invite them to a journey, to a moment of meditation.

Also, I am trying to give birth to light behind layers of ink, keeping in mind moments of the dawn and moments of the dusk, when shadow colors are between blue and dark blue.

What do you hope to make viewers feel or think through SELF ARCHEOLOGY?

I am trying to paint what I feel, not what I see. So I hope viewers will feel what I paint!

Where do you get your creativity from and how do you develop it?

I often force myself to do nothing! I just sit, think, observe… That is when ideas and images come to my mind. It is almost like meditation !

What do you find most difficult in your field and how do you overcome the different challenges you may face?

I use ink, which is a difficult medium to work with. When it comes to the paper, you cannot play with it for day as you could do with oil paint. So, I often need to start again and again.

Moreover, the tools I am working with are objects (piece of wood, linen, Japanese wooden shoes…) which I need to master day after day.

And finally, inspiration is guided by people I meet, places I go and experiences I go through, so I do not overcome, I let them come to me and process them.

What’s coming up next for you? Do you already have new projects in mind?

I have started a solo show in Paris up to Nov. 20, then I will be showing recent works in West Bund Art Fair in Shanghai (Nov.) and in Brussels Art Fair (January 2023).

For those who would like to get more involved in Singapore’s artistic life, would you have a museum or a gallery to recommend?

When I was living in Singapore ( 2001-2008 ) I was often going to Taksu Gallery in Holland Village. But I also like the Gillman Barracks complex and OTA Gallery next to it!

Thank you

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