On closer inspection
By Rose Hobart
Stephane Lejeune’s paintings are deeply representative of the movement and fluidity of the human body. He utilizes blurred paint and swift brushstrokes in his latest series Bodies to illustrate the human body in various forms. The bodies are barely recognizable; the viewers can only identify the positions they are in. Yet it is the unidentifiable quality that emphasizes Lejeune’s talent of combining realism and abstraction in these figures. The contrast between the dark, murky colors and the bright whites and yellows highlight the contours of the body. Some paintings within the series forego the prominence of the figure and display the fusion of the body and the canvas. Fluidity and movement of the human body is reinforced with the distinct use of ink in his paintings. With this expansive range of tools, Lejeune is able to express a dynamic, exciting range of figurative abstraction.
Courtesy of the artist.
I recently had a chance to interview Stephane Lejeune about his artwork:
RH: From looking at your CV I can see you’ve been exhibiting work for roughly 15 years. Do you have an educational background in art? What made you decide to start working as a professional artist?
SL: I’m a graduate in graphic arts, specifically in advertising. But my first job was as a computer programmer for a social organization. Ten years later, I missed painting and I began to draw and paint again. I also had the chance to find a wonderful workshop with really interesting painters and sculptors who made and still make some amazing art. I’ve realized that even if I work again partially as programmer, painting is always going to be a bigger part of my life.
RH: Is there an important message that you are trying to convey through your art?
SL: I’m asking the question of what will remain when humans disappear and working on the relationship between the human being (with his body or city) and his environment. In the cities theme, a few geometrics forms (nearly abstract) remain in human civilization. The empty cities disappear in the tempest. Nature erases civilization. White tempest erases my painting. With the Bodies theme, human beings are taken away in a falling fire like in Pompeii or Icarus mythology. My works on paper is more of stylistic.They are works about movement and principal lines of the bodies. They are mainly still-lives of models of acrobats or dancers.
RH: When discussing his method of producing, he says nothing is more important than creating that special bond with the canvas and eventually with the art as he paints. A lot of your work is ink based works highlight the fluidity and movement of the bodies you are drawing, is this something you were trying to get across? How important are your materials?
SL: Inks allow a spontaneous yet intense work. They permit luminous and transparent colors. The mixture between colors is often surprising and allows for an interesting materiality. I’m often working without brushes in order to have real contact with the canvas, paper and inks.
RH: What is your biggest source of inspiration?
SL: I was really impressed by Caravaggio’s paintings I saw in Italy. It really inspired me for my work about bodies (colors, ‚Äúclaire-obscure‚Äù, movement). My first cities were made from Transsiberian’s pictures, Russian plains. The wandering. I was also impressed by Anselm Kieffer’s paintings. I’m working a lot with living models. It’s really an interesting experience. They’re also artists with a great knowledge of the body. It’s a continuous exchange.
RH: Lejeune asks questions and allow the readers to form their own opinions and views of his works. For him, his art does not fit into one mold but rather is an open-ended question that inquires into the unknown.: Your work lies somewhere in between realism and abstraction, do you think your work slots into any particular genre?
SL: This thin border between realism and abstract is really important to me. I want to give people the possibility to construct their own story from their own experience. Instead of giving the keys to my paintings directly, I want to provoke people to question it. So I give my paintings the same titles: Cities, Body, Nude. It’s difficult for me to put a label on my work. And it is not really important to me.
RH: Do you have any upcoming projects you are working on at the minute?
SL: I’ve begun a series with a model. I want to try new ways to work about the human body. I also want to experiment with the evolution of my vision about the same body for months. I’d like to continue this work for a year.
Lejeune’s works are creative figurative abstraction. He is able to depict the human body and its many forms and at the same time, portray the exquisite relationship of the figures to the canvas. Ultimately, freedom is conveyed through the movement and fluidity of the body; freedom from the temporal, physical world.In a magnificent and masterful way, Lejeune asks questions that delve into the nature of humans and civilization through his pieces.
Courtesy of the artist.