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THE PAINTINGS OF

LUC LEESTEMAKER BEYOND THE HORIZON

Galerie d’Orsay The Finest in Master Works

JUNE 1 — AUGUST 1, 2013


THE PAINTINGS OF

LUC LEESTEMAKER BEYOND THE HORIZON

33 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02216 Tel: 617-266-8001 www.galerie-dorsay.com


Copyright © 2013 The Estate of Luc Leestemaker All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without permission in writing from the artist’s estate. Portrait Photography Bjoern Kommerell Design & Production Fabrik Media Group Cover Image Landscape 2008.07 • 54 x 54 inches Mixed media on canvas.

33 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02216 Tel: 617-266-8001 www.galerie-dorsay.com


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THE PAINTINGS OF LUC LEESTEMAKER: BEYOND THE HORIZON BY EMILY LAU WHENEVER SOMEONE ASKED,

“Where are you from?” Luc Leestemaker always answered in his distinctive European accent, “Los Angeles.” Although Luc was born in the Netherlands, Luc believed that this gigantic life in America gave him a new lease on life. In spite of all its growing pains, it was the place he called home, and the people in it, his family. After all, it was in the City of Angels where, after more than three decades of finding and losing himself in Europe, he rekindled his relationship with painting. I met Luc in 2005 in a crowded boarding lounge at Chicago’s O-Hare Airport. While I was waiting to board a flight to Los Angeles, a tall, handsome silver fox walked by and caught my eye. When he circled the lounge, and then sat next to me, I asked him to watch my bags as I stealthily dropped my trash off in a bin just a few feet away. He told me later, that this gave him “permission to approach.” He told me he was a painter. “You mean houses?” I asked. “No, I’m not good enough for that,” he coyly answered. “I’m still practicing on canvases.” From that moment on, Luc has been a constant LUC LEESTEMAKER IN HIS STUDIO IN LOS ANGELES, beat in my heart. CALIFORNIA, 2009. His practice of painting on canvases was more than applying paint to canvas though. Every day when he entered his studio, I witnessed his commitment to apply himself--his whole and open heart into each brush stroke. He was willing to be vulnerable, to let go of his ego, and to see each session like a journey without a destination. People often asked him if he knew what he was going to paint before he went into the studio. He replied, “No. The emptier, the better.” Like a yogi in meditation, he regarded the nothingness as the place in which he could dive deeper.


Collectors often say they chose one of Luc’s paintings because it reminded them of somewhere they’ve been – a nostalgic place – a beach they frequented as a child, a seaside they once visited. “I know where that is. I’ve been there,” they’d say to Luc. And, he would smile and say, “You are right. It’s exactly where it is.” Considered a “light-and-space” painter whose studio is located in sunny Southern California, some may find it hard to believe Luc painted inside a studio without actual windows or views. Instead, I am certain the window was inside his heart, and that he painted what he saw from there. While with Luc, I also had the privilege of witnessing people fall in love with his paintings much like the way I fell in love with the man himself. It’s that magical moment when someone is attracted, perhaps first by its outer beauty, and then pulled deeper in by a force that is strange and familiar at the same time. It’s like we met before, but I’m not sure when or how. The love affair a collector has with a painting is personal and powerful, and I could see why Luc loved what he did. Through his paintings, he connected people to their inner child, or their longlost self. He took them to that place. Somewhere between the lines and beyond the horizon, people could find themselves. Therefore, to be drawn to, appreciate, and to even have a painting was to give one’s self permission to love oneself. The relationship between Luc and Galerie D’Orsay has lasted over a decade. Through the years, Luc’s work transformed and shifted as his own life had. And, with the support of Sallie Hirshberg and the staff at Galerie D’Orsay, they established a generous and gracious audience. Boston became a second home for Luc. He loved his annual visits to the gallery to spend time with the “D’Orsay Girls” as we affectionately called them, and to meet with his new and long-time collectors on the East Coast. On one such visit, he wrote this passage in his journal: While the world around me is buzzing, I do not feel lonely in this room in the world. I feel an integral part of it. Maybe it has to do with watching a PBS documentary on the history of planet Earth. Life as it exists today could only evolve through the process of photosynthesis; When organisms started interacting directly with the sun. I instinctively understand that. When I sit on my deck in the intense summer heat, I feel how I am an integral part of that magical relationship.


As I was browsing the news, the ads, the commentaries on the various creations and installations of art, it dawned on me (and this may well have been triggered by that PBS documentary), that for me, true art is an expression; an experience; in other words, good art is the ability to for a moment, express my wholeness without the separation of my thoughts; being a full and integral part of nature: The place where observer and observed are morphed into one experience. In this place the judgment disappears. There is no good and bad either; there is only experience. This is the re-connection with the innocence of nature. I then ‘felt’ or ‘experienced’ that when judgment makes place for observation, the seed of wisdom has sprouted. So then, there is in reality very little to say about art, since true art SUMMER EXHIBITION IN takes place in the experience. And the process of BOSTON, 2010 experience lies outside the realm of the intellect and words. But it can express itself in the poetry of a painting, or sculpture. And this is what moves the spectator about the artwork; the spectator feels the melancholy, the draw back to that timeless place where all energies converge, and where one is re connected with the very powers that brought the first life to earth. Newbury Guest House Boston, July 13, 2005 During this past year, I have received an outpouring of love and admiration for Luc and his body of work. The most intriguing for me have been letters from people who never met Luc in person, but have only recently encountered his paintings or his story. One person said, “Only a handful of times in my life have I encountered an artist who had a suddenly paradigm-shifting influence on me…To be so moved in such a profound yet elegant way is a life-changing moment.” Another fellow artist who read Luc’s autobiography, “The Intentional Artist: Stories from My Life,” wrote:


Luc expressed so beautifully the unfolding of his self-awareness, and described so gently the artist’s difficult task of self-examination and self-motivation with a matter-of-fact practicality that never dipped into narcissism. His evident insight into human nature made the lessons he learned in his life so clearly accessible to his reader...it wasn’t just his own life story he was writing, it was a story that could inspire any creative person. In his lifetime he was able to integrate his talent with his keen intellect, his spiritual nature, his focus and determination as well as his sense of playfulness. That is an accomplishment that eludes many who live twice as many years; it seems he was well rewarded on most every count. I was also moved by his deep gratitude for so much of his experience and for the people who motivated and supported him, and the kindness with which he sought to treat everyone in his world. That’s another important lesson, and a spiritual practice in itself. These thoughtful and sincere words impressed me because it became clear to me that Luc left a legacy that goes beyond his physical life. Luc was a force within himself who changed lives through his paintings, words, or simply with his winking smile and presence. I called this the “Luc Effect,” and I am proud to see that it lives on in the people whom he continues to inspire and move. He would be gratified to know that people still find truth in his work and that it may even have opened something in their own hearts. After all, I believe Luc had the courage to live large in his own heart first. “Whatever the outcome,” Luc wrote in an essay titled, “Alchemy,” “the artist should focus only on living through his or her heart, on emptying the soul of all clutter and sabotaging thoughts, in order to make the creation of artwork as pure a process as possible. That is, to live life as a creative being, both inside and outside the studio. In the final analysis, success does not come from the art world. It comes from making life itself the work of art.” Luc put so much of nothing into every painting so that any one could make it theirs –a gift from a man who lived to make art, and whose life was a work of art.


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HAIKU, THE BEGINNING, 1997 • 24 X 24 INCHES • MIXED MEDIA ON CANVAS


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TR.2001.45 • 48 X 48 INCHES • MIXED MEDIA ON CANVAS


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LANDSCAPE, 2005.36 • 54 X 54 INCHES • MIXED MEDIA ON CANVAS


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LANDSCAPE.2007.14 • 8 SET • 12 X 10 INCHES • MIXED MEDIA ON CANVAS


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LANDSCAPE 2008.01 • 40 X 40 INCHES • MIXED MEDIA ON CANVAS


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LANDSCAPE 2008.02 • 50 X 46 INCHES • MIXED MEDIA ON CANVAS


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LANDSCAPE 2008.02 • 60 X 48 INCHES • MIXED MEDIA ON CANVAS


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A.4 • 18 X 14 INCHES • MIXED MEDIA ON CANVAS


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DREAMS #6 • 40 X 40 INCHES EACH • MIXED MEDIA ON CANVAS


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DREAMS #23 • 24 X 18 INCHES EACH • MIXED MEDIA ON CANVAS


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DREAMS #24 • 24 X 18 INCHES EACH • MIXED MEDIA ON CANVAS


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LANDSCAPE.2008.09 • 9 SET • MIXED MEDIA ON CANVAS


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OFF WHITE #1.2008 • 48 X 48 INCHES • MIXED MEDIA ON CANVAS


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KYOTO SERIES 2008.07 • 41 X 33 INCHES • MIXED MEDIA ON CANVAS


SOLIQUOI COMMUNITY #3 • 60 X 60 INCHES • MIXED MEDIA ON CANVAS


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SOLIQUOI #12.2008 • 48 X 48 INCHES • MIXED MEDIA ON CANVAS


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SOLIQUOI #43. ODE TO MATISSE #2.2008 • 41 X 33 INCHES • MIXED MEDIA ON CANVAS


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LANDSCAPE.2009.01 • 9 SET • 10 X 11 INCHES EACH • MIXED MEDIA ON CANVAS


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HAIKU #8 • 50 X 50 INCHES • MIXED MEDIA ON CANVAS


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HAIKU #82 • 48 X 48 INCHES • MIXED MEDIA ON CANVAS


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ALLEGORIES #123 • 39 X 39 INCHES • MIXED MEDIA ON CANVAS


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ALLEGORIES PART 2, #105 • 41 X 33 INCHES • MIXED MEDIA ON CANVAS


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ALLEGORIES PART 2, #114 • 30 X 30 INCHES • MIXED MEDIA ON CANVAS


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UNTITLED LANDSCAPE 2010.14 • 60 X 60 INCHES • MIXED MEDIA ON CANVAS


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NEW WORKS, UNTITLED LANDSCAPE 2011.34 • 48 X 48 INCHES • MIXED MEDIA ON CANVAS


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NEW WORKS, UNTITLED LANDSCAPE 2011.35 • 48 X 48 INCHES • MIXED MEDIA ON CANVAS


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NEW WORKS, 2011 • 9 SET • 12 X 12 INCHES • MIXED MEDIA ON CANVAS


PETER FRANK ON LUC LEESTEMAKER IT’S BEEN MY PRIVILEGE,

and a welcome aspect of my profession, to know

thousands of artists and creative individuals. I’ve been inspired and influenced by many of them, and personally fond of many more. Luc Leestemaker inspired me, influenced me, and delighted me as have few other people in my experience. I take great comfort and reassurance from his art, which I regard as traditional in the best sense, and also impelled by deep, genuine vision and native skill. But I took even greater comfort and reassurance from the spirit and intellect of the man himself. Luc was an unusually dynamic human being, generous to a fault, sometimes frightfully insightful, wise in the ways of the world, articulate in his observations and philosophy, and open to all. He was a model of self-confidence but even more eager to share that confidence with others, to collaborate with those who intrigued and engaged him, and to explore the possibilities of the known world. Luc came from a family of artists but also from a nation of builders and explorers. He was ever the Flying Dutchman, but he never flew without taking so many of us with him. I soared high with Luc, and remain buoyed by his memory. He left some great paintings behind, but more importantly, he left behind a legacy of wisdom and devotion. Peter Frank, Art Critic July 1, 2012


LUC LEESTEMAKER (1957-2012) B O R N I N T H E N E T H E R L A N D S IN

1957, Leestemaker was largely self-taught as

an artist but took inspiration and guidance from his grandfather, a painter in the Dutch court. In his native land, Leestemaker was an organizer and entrepreneur in several arts, including visual art, theater, and literature. Working in Amsterdam, he helped found a performing arts center, an art collective, and a monthly magazine devoted to business and the arts. He was managing director of Leestemaker & Associates, a consulting firm specializing in arts marketing, financing, and public relations that at its height boasted the Dutch government's cultural portfolio as its most prominent client.

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Throughout the years he subconsciously knew that he needed time to build the psychological framework for his art. Upon moving to the U.S. in 1990, Leestemaker felt he was ready to fully commit to painting. Not unlike other European and Dutch artists, (particularly, Willem de Kooning), living and work-


ing in the US created a dramatic transition. His stylistic journey would take him from early inspiration by the CoBrA movement; through densely abstract expressionist art compositions; to the significant “Inner Landscape” and “Transfigurations” Series, which are situated on the borderline of realism and abstraction and inspired both by Mark Rothko and 18th Century Dutch and English landscape painters (notably Ruysdael, Constable). He eventually evolved a more lyrical style, in which the expansive brushstrokes and vivid palette of Abstract Expressionism becalm themselves, ultimately taking on the composition and atmosphere of land- and seascapes. Vigorous, yet imbued with art-historical reference, his paintings have a distinctive and evocative style. The larger canvases were first treated with a thin cement layer mixed with raw pigment powder, then worked into with acrylic paint and finished with an oil based varnish. This fresco technique on the canvas created a layered luminous sense of the work, which seemingly changed in different shades of light. The smaller canvases making up the sets of the “Inner Landscapes” were made with 51

the palette knife, and created a rich, layered look to the work. Landscapes became Leestemaker's signature. Even in the later, more abstract work, the ‘atmospheric landscapes' set the foundation. He used the universally understood language of landscape painting to express his emotion/intuition of the abstract compositions. Leestemaker saw the role of the artist as the shaman, or the Greek priest, translating the message of the gods into worldly understood action and matter. The painter does this visually. The tragic mistake of the romantic idea of the artist is that he has lost half of this message. This has cast the artist in the eternal role of the outsider, where as Leestemaker believed that the role of the artist was to fill the world with spirituality and make it whole. He did not subscribe to the recent 19th/20th-century romantic notion that the artist must be a solitary, suffering individual who locks himself away in a state of despair, creating art that can only be understood by a select few. His experience in marketing and public outreach convinced Leestemaker that artists have a public role to play even beyond the presence and impact of their work. He advo-


cated this public role to artists and non-artists alike, lecturing and giving workshops on the creative process, the artist’s identity, and the symbiosis between artist and society. To this end, Leestemaker published a memoir-like book, “The Intentional Artist: Stories From My Life,” in 2010. Several other books and catalogues, including the monograph “Luc Leestemaker: Paintings” (2004), have documented Leestemaker’s oeuvre, as has the widely-screened film “Swimming Through The Clouds: A Portrait of the Artist” (2008), directed by Terence Gross and Ruy Carpenter. The artist also collaborated with famed composer and musician Charlie Haden and created the artwork for Haden’s 2005 Grammy Award-winning CD “Land of the Sun.” His partnership with Hollywood’s film industry has led to a number of film and television projects including “Spiderman,” “Bringing Down the House,” “Erin Brockovich,” “Shopgirl “Spiderman III,” “Fracture,” and “Boston Legal.” In 2006, Vincent Ho, composer-in-residence of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra used four paintings of the artist as inspiration for a chamber music composition, “Four Paintings By Leestemaker.” In 2011, Leestemaker worked with Ho on a symphonic and visual concept based on transformation and healing. This collaboration became “From Darkness to Light: A Spiritual Journey” and was performed at the 2012 Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra’s New Music Festival in February 2012. Ho recently wrote another composition called “The Shaman” inspired by another two of Leestemaker’s works, and will be performed at Carnegie Hall in May 2014. In March 2012, Leestemaker was selected as a Star of Design in the art category by the Pacific Design Center. On May, 18, 2012, Leestemaker passed away peacefully on his 55th birthday. As well as being a part of major corporate and private collections, Leestemaker’s work continues to be exhibited widely throughout North America and Europe, in museums, commercial galleries, and various public spaces.


LUC LEESTEMAKER’S FINAL ENDEAVOR

“A life, a legacy, and a future of art and beauty for the world. I am very proud to continue to share the legacy of my friend, Luc Leestemaker.” — SALLIE HIRSHBERG


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33 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02216 Tel: 617-266-8001 www.galerie-dorsay.com

The Paintings of Luc Leestemaker  

Beyond The Horizon

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