I first discovered Philippe Lejeune by total chance. I had completed a photo shoot with John Pitocco, (www.johnpitocco.com), and some photos were taken in front of a mostly demolished building in Providence, RI. Someone on Facebook pointed out that the artwork behind my photo was created by Philippe Lejeune. So of course, fate has brought a meeting between us. (And I got the chance to meet Jackie Lee, she’s fabulous and up and coming in RI- more about her in another blog!)
It is not over indulgent for me to mention that I am a true lover of trees and have drawn or painted many in my life. Something always calls to me through the roots and branches of a tree that speaks to me as a human. I think for me it conjures up feelings of the past merging with the present and reaching for the future. Well, for Philippe, his passion for art led him to the painting of trees (with coffee by the way), and is now a calling which has led him on quite a journey.
Phillipe came from France to the US in 1984 with great aspirations as an illustrator to work for a big time design firm. He did exactly that as he was producing etchings, and sometimes working for 3 months at a time on one illustration. Philippe soon grew tired of working to others specifications, longing to be truly free to express his art and soul through his work, he took a leap of faith and went to work for himself.
Not only did Philippe realize there was a whole other world out there artistically that he could participate in, but his hands and heart bonded while using his hands to create, in multiple medias, works that expressed his soul. One medium would run its course, then another would come alive. Sculpting and painting eventually turned to working with aluminum, where something in his soul was set to fire. A door opened in his creative path towards working with wood to create trees. (This story I want you to hear in his own words at another time.)
Philippe has gone through many exploratory stages of growth as an artist. In fact, for me, I don’t think I have met an artist as diverse as he is in a while. That sounds funny and curious doesn’t it? Philippe pretty much always works with wood creating trees, how can that be diverse, you ask? Well, I gotta tell you, he has traveled on a path that crosses over the boundaries of one type of art to another so many times that he, in my estimation is one of the truest, purest forms of an artist I have seen. He thinks like an artist about everything. From detailed etchings, to painting, to sculpting with metal, glass and wood, to making amazing creatures in photoshop as well as designing on the computer, creating videos, the art of conversation, and playing the guitar?
Whoa, we have a Renaissnce man in our midst folks.
If there is wood, and Philippe is there, you are bound to find even a building surrounded by trees. What is the story behind this man’s motivation. This is a real obsession, a true calling. He has answered the call.
Coming soon in Pawtucket is a cafe’/ gallery that Philippe is completely filling with his art. There will also be live performances and more exhibiting artists as time rolls on. I’ll make sure to announce the opening of this new cafe! Philippe and the owner have high hopes that they are creating a space for the arts, in many forms, music, fine art, and performance art, to thrive.
This environment suits someone like Philippe so well because, as he stated to me in our conversation, he is very inclined to disrupt the system. He does not like how the internet is used in society. Not only is this reflected in his work, but it is his desire to see this cafe/gallery break people free from the internet while they are in this cafe. Surrounded by other inspiring artists, people will come to be living in the moment, fully alive with the opportunity to thrive.
Below in this photo you will see an installation made of individual shingles, each created separately then installed like shingles as a wall. I just let my eyes wash over this. I felt soothed by the rhythm I perceived. It read like a book to me. Only I followed the pattern row by row, starting from the left top row then going across to the end, dropping down a row and scanning right, dropping down and scanning left. All the way down then back up again, not too fast, not too slow. My eyes snaked fluidly over this work and it was exhilarating. I wonder how your mind will process this work? Won’t a conversation in a seat by this wall be interesting? Or will you lose yourself in the repetition of the pattern and not think at all, just feel? Will anything register at all?
I really admire Philippe. He lives totally and completely on the edge. That takes courage and vision of which he has both in abundance.
There is another project that Philippe has done using glass and it is fantastic! It is a work that inspires interaction and live performance art by anyone who gets involved with it. There is much more to be inspired by with Philippe, and if you have questions feel free to ask. Let’s keep this conversational rolling!!!
Check out Philippe On Facebook
The Sarah Hale Folger Project seeks to inspire greatness in humanity by sharing inspiring stories with the world. Please contact me through my website at http://www.SarahHaleFolger.com
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