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PAINTING AND SCULPTURE

PAINTING AND SCULPTURE

ALEXIS LAURENT ALEXIS LAURENT


ALEXIS LAURENT PAINTING AND SCULPTURE

Introduction by Robert Flynn Johnson

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ALEXIS LAURENT PAINTING AND SCULPTURE

Introduction by Robert Flynn Johnson

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The End of the Beginning1

decade. He relished, then, the opportunity to work with his hands and feel the satisfaction of creating forms and physically shaping content. His course was set.

To see is to forget the name of the thing one sees. Paul Valery (1871-1945)2

In the old days, pictures went forward toward completion by stages. Every day brought something new. A picture used to be a sum of additions. In my case, a picture is a scene of destructions. I do a picture—then I destroy it. In the end though, nothing is lost: the red I took away from one place turns up somewhere else. Pablo Picasso, 19354

A definition of the word regret is “sorrow aroused by circumstances beyond one’s power to remedy.”3 In life we all suffer regrets both small and large throughout our lives. It is, however, most tragic when someone later in life comes to the realization that there was an earlier moment in one’s life journey when, at a crucial crossroads, the wrong road was taken. Through family history, peer pressure, fear of failure, uncertain financial reward, lack of prestige or power, one’s natural destiny to sail on an uncertain sea of creativity was permanently blown off course to the safe harbors of predictable success and numbing regularity. That sense of regret for what might have been but now will never occur must be a hard thing to live out one’s life with that knowledge.

The first steps Laurent took towards realizing his aspirations as an artist was in painting. What is clear, however, is that the underpinning of all his work from his earliest paintings to his latest sculptures has never varied. The bedrock of his art is based on an intuitive interweaving of color and texture within the two and three-dimensional surfaces he works upon. Without a formal studio while in France, Laurent’s first paintings, by necessity, were smaller panels, which allowed him to conceive and complete those works in a more compressed time period than his later work. It must be said that a key aspect of Alexis Laurent’s character as an artist is one of controlled creative impatience. Like writers whose ideas flow faster than their ability to write them down, Laurent’s restive conceptual process is especially evident in the surface of his paintings. In the spirit of the Picasso quote above, Laurent’s paintings are as much a result of the premeditated violence of his destructions as his initial painted layer. The non-objective surfaces of these early works (pp. 10-21) teem with a rough vitality where you can feel the passion of the artist in personifying the works with texture and shape formed out of color.

At the age of thirty-four, Alexis Laurent came to that crossroads in his life. With a splendid education in his background, success in several businesses, and blessed with a loving and supportive wife and two beautiful children, Laurent was poised to continue a familiar career path in its foreseeable upward mobility. Instead, he decided to take stock of his life. We live in a world today that values action over reflection and his decision to take a two and a half year sabbatical would be seen by many as foolhardy or time wasting. It was neither. It was, instead, revelatory and life altering as can be seen by the works of art in this catalogue created since that fateful decision was made. Laurent on his sabbatical, which began in 2003, returned to his roots in rural France. There he reawakened his memories of handcrafted creativity practiced by his parents in the field of making jewelry, which he observed close at hand as a boy. This inspiration of the visualization of forms made real by his parents’ artistry was further compounded by a brief foray into the field of construction and design earlier in the past

With additional studio space, Laurent’s paintings expanded in size but also became more monochromatic and less agitated in their surface tensions. The paint application and/or destruction within the compositions became broader and more simplified. This reached its most refined in a series of paintings (pp. 40-48)

Untitled, 2008, 46”x 33.5”, pigment and plaster on burlap

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The End of the Beginning1

decade. He relished, then, the opportunity to work with his hands and feel the satisfaction of creating forms and physically shaping content. His course was set.

To see is to forget the name of the thing one sees. Paul Valery (1871-1945)2

In the old days, pictures went forward toward completion by stages. Every day brought something new. A picture used to be a sum of additions. In my case, a picture is a scene of destructions. I do a picture—then I destroy it. In the end though, nothing is lost: the red I took away from one place turns up somewhere else. Pablo Picasso, 19354

A definition of the word regret is “sorrow aroused by circumstances beyond one’s power to remedy.”3 In life we all suffer regrets both small and large throughout our lives. It is, however, most tragic when someone later in life comes to the realization that there was an earlier moment in one’s life journey when, at a crucial crossroads, the wrong road was taken. Through family history, peer pressure, fear of failure, uncertain financial reward, lack of prestige or power, one’s natural destiny to sail on an uncertain sea of creativity was permanently blown off course to the safe harbors of predictable success and numbing regularity. That sense of regret for what might have been but now will never occur must be a hard thing to live out one’s life with that knowledge.

The first steps Laurent took towards realizing his aspirations as an artist was in painting. What is clear, however, is that the underpinning of all his work from his earliest paintings to his latest sculptures has never varied. The bedrock of his art is based on an intuitive interweaving of color and texture within the two and three-dimensional surfaces he works upon. Without a formal studio while in France, Laurent’s first paintings, by necessity, were smaller panels, which allowed him to conceive and complete those works in a more compressed time period than his later work. It must be said that a key aspect of Alexis Laurent’s character as an artist is one of controlled creative impatience. Like writers whose ideas flow faster than their ability to write them down, Laurent’s restive conceptual process is especially evident in the surface of his paintings. In the spirit of the Picasso quote above, Laurent’s paintings are as much a result of the premeditated violence of his destructions as his initial painted layer. The non-objective surfaces of these early works (pp. 10-21) teem with a rough vitality where you can feel the passion of the artist in personifying the works with texture and shape formed out of color.

At the age of thirty-four, Alexis Laurent came to that crossroads in his life. With a splendid education in his background, success in several businesses, and blessed with a loving and supportive wife and two beautiful children, Laurent was poised to continue a familiar career path in its foreseeable upward mobility. Instead, he decided to take stock of his life. We live in a world today that values action over reflection and his decision to take a two and a half year sabbatical would be seen by many as foolhardy or time wasting. It was neither. It was, instead, revelatory and life altering as can be seen by the works of art in this catalogue created since that fateful decision was made. Laurent on his sabbatical, which began in 2003, returned to his roots in rural France. There he reawakened his memories of handcrafted creativity practiced by his parents in the field of making jewelry, which he observed close at hand as a boy. This inspiration of the visualization of forms made real by his parents’ artistry was further compounded by a brief foray into the field of construction and design earlier in the past

With additional studio space, Laurent’s paintings expanded in size but also became more monochromatic and less agitated in their surface tensions. The paint application and/or destruction within the compositions became broader and more simplified. This reached its most refined in a series of paintings (pp. 40-48)

Untitled, 2008, 46”x 33.5”, pigment and plaster on burlap

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Another series of wall reliefs utilizes sheets of zinc that are painted, carefully incised, then polished so that the color, while present, exists as a memory upon the surface. Laurent’s conscious “destruction” of the surface is key to their success as works of art, preferring subtlety over flamboyance.

where soft liquid veils of diluted color create an Asian-influenced atmosphere of Zen-like contemplation. In our digitally obsessed age, much art has been reduced down to merely pixel delivered information. In regards to Laurent’s art, however, the physicality of the artist’s touch and the sensitivity of scale (both large and small) demands interaction with the actual works themselves to fully appreciate the subtlety of his art.

Edgar Degas said, “The artist does not draw what he sees but what he must make others see.”7 In the case of Laurent, for example, he fashions a river out of a ribbon of zinc and a transparent and fanciful sculptured wall out of the parts of complex motorcycles engines. It is not the materials themselves, but the transformative act of the artist in fashioning them into art that startles our consciousness. Laurent revels in mixing contrasting materials into unified wholes. He paired varieties of wood veneer with sleek sheet metal combined with roughly painted burlap to form elegant sculptural forms reminiscent of Jean Arp.

Andy Warhol famously stated, “Everybody’s influenced by everybody”5 and so it is true with the art of Alexis Laurent. Although not necessarily aware of their art, his early paintings have the biomorphism of Paul Klee and the energetic surfaces of Wols, Jean Dubuffet, and Jasper Johns. His more recent paintings reference the more refined gestures of Cy Twombly and Gerhard Richter. Visual references to others whether real or unintentional is true for all artists. What is also true is the energy and originality of Laurent’s paintings to date. Every time I make a sculpture it breeds ten more, and then time is too short to make them all. David Smith6

What every artist should strive for is to attempt to meld a child-like enthusiasm for creative exploration with adult thoughtfulness of purpose and intellectual content. I believe Alexis Laurent displays those qualities. He came to art later than most but he came when he was ready. The paintings and sculptures in this catalogue reflect his rapid development as an artist over the past seven years. The title of this essay, borrowed from a stirring wartime speech of Sir Winston Churchill, is so apt. These works are the end of Alexis Laurent’s beginning as an artist. They are but a prelude to what he will create in the future.

Alexis Laurent has evolved and adapted as a painter but it is in sculpture that the artist is most naturally attuned. Laurent conceives his artistic forms in three dimensions freely and easily and enjoys and embraces the challenge of working in a variety of materials both simply and in often surprising combinations. In working out his idea and executing it, usually with the aid of trusted studio assistants, Laurent revels in its evolution from raw materials into a finished whole. Like more true sculptors, he is both the architect and builder of his art.

Robert Flynn Johnson Curator Emeritus Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

As Laurent is comfortable in both two and three dimensions, some of his earliest sculptures combine the two and are wall reliefs. A stunning series of nine oversized fan and staff shaped sculptures (pp. 60-65) were formed out of pieces of wood more normally used for floor construction. Although all display rough surfaces in their natural state, they are impeccably constructed. The forms range from feminine fan shapes to menacing masculine war club objects.

NOTES 1 “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” Sir Winston Churchill, speech, November 1942 2 Hadden, Peggy, The Quotable Artist (New York; Allworth Press, 2007) p. 203 3 Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, (Springfield, MA; G&C Merriam Co., 1967) p. 722 4 Ashton, Dore ed., Picasso on Art: A Selection of Views (New York; The Viking Press, 1972) p. 38 5 Crofton, Ian ed. A Dictionary of Art Quotations (New York; Schirmer Books, 1988) p. 136 6 Hadden, Peggy, The Quotable Artist (New York; Allworth Press, 2007) p. 169 7 Goldwater, Robert and Treves, Mario, eds. Artists on Art (New York; Pantheon Books, 1947) p.308

The Abacus, 2009, 61”x 83”x 16”, steel and reclaimed oak wood floor (detail p. 58)

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Another series of wall reliefs utilizes sheets of zinc that are painted, carefully incised, then polished so that the color, while present, exists as a memory upon the surface. Laurent’s conscious “destruction” of the surface is key to their success as works of art, preferring subtlety over flamboyance.

where soft liquid veils of diluted color create an Asian-influenced atmosphere of Zen-like contemplation. In our digitally obsessed age, much art has been reduced down to merely pixel delivered information. In regards to Laurent’s art, however, the physicality of the artist’s touch and the sensitivity of scale (both large and small) demands interaction with the actual works themselves to fully appreciate the subtlety of his art.

Edgar Degas said, “The artist does not draw what he sees but what he must make others see.”7 In the case of Laurent, for example, he fashions a river out of a ribbon of zinc and a transparent and fanciful sculptured wall out of the parts of complex motorcycles engines. It is not the materials themselves, but the transformative act of the artist in fashioning them into art that startles our consciousness. Laurent revels in mixing contrasting materials into unified wholes. He paired varieties of wood veneer with sleek sheet metal combined with roughly painted burlap to form elegant sculptural forms reminiscent of Jean Arp.

Andy Warhol famously stated, “Everybody’s influenced by everybody”5 and so it is true with the art of Alexis Laurent. Although not necessarily aware of their art, his early paintings have the biomorphism of Paul Klee and the energetic surfaces of Wols, Jean Dubuffet, and Jasper Johns. His more recent paintings reference the more refined gestures of Cy Twombly and Gerhard Richter. Visual references to others whether real or unintentional is true for all artists. What is also true is the energy and originality of Laurent’s paintings to date. Every time I make a sculpture it breeds ten more, and then time is too short to make them all. David Smith6

What every artist should strive for is to attempt to meld a child-like enthusiasm for creative exploration with adult thoughtfulness of purpose and intellectual content. I believe Alexis Laurent displays those qualities. He came to art later than most but he came when he was ready. The paintings and sculptures in this catalogue reflect his rapid development as an artist over the past seven years. The title of this essay, borrowed from a stirring wartime speech of Sir Winston Churchill, is so apt. These works are the end of Alexis Laurent’s beginning as an artist. They are but a prelude to what he will create in the future.

Alexis Laurent has evolved and adapted as a painter but it is in sculpture that the artist is most naturally attuned. Laurent conceives his artistic forms in three dimensions freely and easily and enjoys and embraces the challenge of working in a variety of materials both simply and in often surprising combinations. In working out his idea and executing it, usually with the aid of trusted studio assistants, Laurent revels in its evolution from raw materials into a finished whole. Like more true sculptors, he is both the architect and builder of his art.

Robert Flynn Johnson Curator Emeritus Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

As Laurent is comfortable in both two and three dimensions, some of his earliest sculptures combine the two and are wall reliefs. A stunning series of nine oversized fan and staff shaped sculptures (pp. 60-65) were formed out of pieces of wood more normally used for floor construction. Although all display rough surfaces in their natural state, they are impeccably constructed. The forms range from feminine fan shapes to menacing masculine war club objects.

NOTES 1 “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” Sir Winston Churchill, speech, November 1942 2 Hadden, Peggy, The Quotable Artist (New York; Allworth Press, 2007) p. 203 3 Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, (Springfield, MA; G&C Merriam Co., 1967) p. 722 4 Ashton, Dore ed., Picasso on Art: A Selection of Views (New York; The Viking Press, 1972) p. 38 5 Crofton, Ian ed. A Dictionary of Art Quotations (New York; Schirmer Books, 1988) p. 136 6 Hadden, Peggy, The Quotable Artist (New York; Allworth Press, 2007) p. 169 7 Goldwater, Robert and Treves, Mario, eds. Artists on Art (New York; Pantheon Books, 1947) p.308

The Abacus, 2009, 61”x 83”x 16”, steel and reclaimed oak wood floor (detail p. 58)

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PAINTING

Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas RIGHT: Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas

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PAINTING

Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas RIGHT: Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas

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Les Guerriers, 2004, 23.5”x 23.5”, oil-based house paint on plywood, private collection (detail p.8) LEFT: L’homme à la fleur, 2004, 25.5”x17.5”, oil-based house paint and pigment on plywood, private collection

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Les Guerriers, 2004, 23.5”x 23.5”, oil-based house paint on plywood, private collection (detail p.8) LEFT: L’homme à la fleur, 2004, 25.5”x17.5”, oil-based house paint and pigment on plywood, private collection

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Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas LEFT: Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas

Un Rêve, 2004, 15”x17”, oil-based house paint on plywood RIGHT: Un Rêve, 2004 (detail)

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Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas LEFT: Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas

Un Rêve, 2004, 15”x17”, oil-based house paint on plywood RIGHT: Un Rêve, 2004 (detail)

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Untitled, 2004, 23.5"x 23.5", oil-based house paint and plaster on plywood RIGHT: L'ĂŠquilibriste, 2004, 40"x40", oil on canvas

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Untitled, 2004, 23.5"x 23.5", oil-based house paint and plaster on plywood RIGHT: L'ĂŠquilibriste, 2004, 40"x40", oil on canvas

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Le Cirque, 2004, 27" x 24", oil on canvas, private collection LEFT: Untitled, 2004, 25.5" x 17.5", pigment and plaster on plywood, private collection

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Le Cirque, 2004, 27" x 24", oil on canvas, private collection LEFT: Untitled, 2004, 25.5" x 17.5", pigment and plaster on plywood, private collection

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Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas RIGHT: Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas

Rouge Vif, 2005, 16" x 13", oil-based house paint and papyrus on plywood, private collection LEFT: Rouge Vif, 2005 (detail)

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Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas RIGHT: Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas

Rouge Vif, 2005, 16" x 13", oil-based house paint and papyrus on plywood, private collection LEFT: Rouge Vif, 2005 (detail)

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Untitled, 2005, 27.5" x 121.5", oil on plywood, private collection LEFT: Untitled , 2005, 20.5" x 12", oil and encaustic on plywood

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Untitled, 2005, 27.5" x 121.5", oil on plywood, private collection LEFT: Untitled , 2005, 20.5" x 12", oil and encaustic on plywood

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Trois Femmes, 2005, 84" x 60", oil on canvas RIGHT: Untitled, 2005, 84" x 60", oil on canvas, private collection

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Trois Femmes, 2005, 84" x 60", oil on canvas RIGHT: Untitled, 2005, 84" x 60", oil on canvas, private collection

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Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas RIGHT: Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas

Untitled, 2006, 33" x 30", pigment, charcoal, and resin on cardboard, private collection LEFT: Untitled (detail)

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Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas RIGHT: Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas

Untitled, 2006, 33" x 30", pigment, charcoal, and resin on cardboard, private collection LEFT: Untitled (detail)

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Untitled, 2006, 38.5" x 21", oil on plywood, private collection RIGHT: L'homme Ă la fleur 2, 2006, 41" x 21", oil on plywood, private collection

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Untitled, 2006, 38.5" x 21", oil on plywood, private collection RIGHT: L'homme Ă la fleur 2, 2006, 41" x 21", oil on plywood, private collection

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Un taureau mexicain, 2006, 36" x 48", encaustic on canvas, private collection RIGHT: Untitled, 2006, 46.5" x 33.5", acrylic on zinc

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Un taureau mexicain, 2006, 36" x 48", encaustic on canvas, private collection RIGHT: Untitled, 2006, 46.5" x 33.5", acrylic on zinc

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Untitled, 2006, 43" x 100", pigment and oil on cardboard, private collection

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Untitled, 2006, 43" x 100", pigment and oil on cardboard, private collection

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Untitled, 2007, 40" x 40", oil and encaustic on canvas, private collection RIGHT: Untitled, 2007 (detail)

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Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas LEFT: Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas

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Untitled, 2007, 40" x 40", oil and encaustic on canvas, private collection RIGHT: Untitled, 2007 (detail)

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Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas LEFT: Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas

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Untitled, 2007, 84" x 60", oil on canvas RIGHT: Giverny, 2007, 48" x 36", marker, oil, and encaustic on canvas, private collection

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Untitled, 2007, 84" x 60", oil on canvas RIGHT: Giverny, 2007, 48" x 36", marker, oil, and encaustic on canvas, private collection

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Untitled, 2007, 12" x 39", oil, encaustic, and paper collage on canvas, private collection

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Untitled, 2007, 12" x 39", oil, encaustic, and paper collage on canvas, private collection

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Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas RIGHT: Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas

Untitled, 2007, 39" x 32", oil and encaustic on canvas, private collection LEFT: Untitled, 2007 (detail)

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Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas RIGHT: Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas

Untitled, 2007, 39" x 32", oil and encaustic on canvas, private collection LEFT: Untitled, 2007 (detail)

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Untitled, 2008, 36" x 36", oil on canvas RIGHT: Untitled, 2008, 48”x 48”, oil on canvas

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Untitled, 2008, 36" x 36", oil on canvas RIGHT: Untitled, 2008, 48”x 48”, oil on canvas

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Untitled, 2008, 60" x 48", oil on canvas LEFT: Untitled, 2008, 48”x 36”, oil on canvas

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Untitled, 2008, 48" x 156", pencil and oil on canvas FOLDOUT: Untitled, 2008 (detail)

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Untitled, 2008, 60" x 48", oil on canvas LEFT: Untitled, 2008, 48”x 36”, oil on canvas

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Untitled, 2008, 48" x 156", pencil and oil on canvas FOLDOUT: Untitled, 2008 (detail)

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ABOVE: Painting XYZ, 100 cm x 120 cm, 2005 RIGHT: Painting ABC, 122 cm x 146 cm, 2005

Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas RIGHT: Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas

Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas RIGHT: Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas

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Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas LEFT: Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas

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ABOVE: Painting XYZ, 100 cm x 120 cm, 2005 RIGHT: Painting ABC, 122 cm x 146 cm, 2005

Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas RIGHT: Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas

Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas RIGHT: Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas

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Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas LEFT: Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas

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Untitled, 2008, 76" x 71", pigment and plaster on burlap LEFT: L'ElĂŠphant Gris, 2008, 72" x 72", oil on canvas

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Untitled, 2008, 76" x 71", pigment and plaster on burlap LEFT: L'ElĂŠphant Gris, 2008, 72" x 72", oil on canvas

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each Untitled, 2009, 93" x 45", acrylic on zinc

each Untitled, 2009, 93" x 45", acrylic on zinc

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each Untitled, 2009, 93" x 45", acrylic on zinc

each Untitled, 2009, 93" x 45", acrylic on zinc

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Untitled, 2009, 36" x 72", oil and encaustic on kirei board RIGHT: Untitled, 2009 (detail)

Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas LEFT: Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas

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Untitled, 2009, 36" x 72", oil and encaustic on kirei board RIGHT: Untitled, 2009 (detail)

Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas LEFT: Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas

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Untitled, 2009, 18" x 95", acrylic and resin on eucalyptus bark, private collection

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Untitled, 2009, 18" x 95", acrylic and resin on eucalyptus bark, private collection

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Untitled, 2009, 48" x 48", charred plaster and wood on plywood RIGHT: Untitled, 2009 (detail)

Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas LEFT: Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas

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Untitled, 2009, 48" x 48", charred plaster and wood on plywood RIGHT: Untitled, 2009 (detail)

Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas LEFT: Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas

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SCULPTURE

Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas RIGHT: Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas

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SCULPTURE

Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas RIGHT: Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas

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Fan 1, 2009, 63.5" x 11" x 1.25", reclaimed oak wood floor on plywood ABOVE RIGHT: Fan 2, 2009, 82.5" x 10" x 1.25", reclaimed oak wood floor on plywood

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Fan 3, 2009, 84.5" x 11" x 1.25", reclaimed oak wood floor on plywood ABOVE RIGHT: Fan 4, 2009, 84.5" x 11" x 1.25", reclaimed oak wood floor on plywood

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Fan 1, 2009, 63.5" x 11" x 1.25", reclaimed oak wood floor on plywood ABOVE RIGHT: Fan 2, 2009, 82.5" x 10" x 1.25", reclaimed oak wood floor on plywood

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Fan 3, 2009, 84.5" x 11" x 1.25", reclaimed oak wood floor on plywood ABOVE RIGHT: Fan 4, 2009, 84.5" x 11" x 1.25", reclaimed oak wood floor on plywood

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Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas RIGHT: Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas

Fan 5, 2009, 84" x 33" x 1.25", reclaimed oak wood floor on plywood LEFT: Fan 5, 2009 (detail)

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Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas RIGHT: Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas

Fan 5, 2009, 84" x 33" x 1.25", reclaimed oak wood floor on plywood LEFT: Fan 5, 2009 (detail)

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Fan 6, 2009, 59" x 82" x 1.25", reclaimed oak wood floor on plywood

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Fan 6, 2009, 59" x 82" x 1.25", reclaimed oak wood floor on plywood

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Untitled, 2009, 166" x 48" x 48", acrylic and plaster on burlap RIGHT: Untitled, 2009 (detail)

Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas LEFT: Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas

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Untitled, 2009, 166" x 48" x 48", acrylic and plaster on burlap RIGHT: Untitled, 2009 (detail)

Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas LEFT: Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas

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Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas RIGHT: Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas

Buena Vista, 2009, 78.5" x 63.5" x 4", mixed media on resin and steel LEFT: Buena Vista, 2009 (detail)

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Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas RIGHT: Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas

Buena Vista, 2009, 78.5" x 63.5" x 4", mixed media on resin and steel LEFT: Buena Vista, 2009 (detail)

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Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas RIGHT: Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas

Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas LEFT: Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas

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Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas LEFT: Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas

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Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas RIGHT: Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas

Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas LEFT: Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas

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Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas LEFT: Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas

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Sevilla, 2009, 68" x 128" x 28", steel rods on steel pipe FOLDOUT: Sevilla, 2009 (details)

Les Chardons, 2009, 96" x 60" x 27", steel rods on steel pipe RIGHT: Les Chardons, 2009 (detail)

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Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas LEFT: Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas

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Sevilla, 2009, 68" x 128" x 28", steel rods on steel pipe FOLDOUT: Sevilla, 2009 (details)

Les Chardons, 2009, 96" x 60" x 27", steel rods on steel pipe RIGHT: Les Chardons, 2009 (detail)

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Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas LEFT: Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas

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Un homme ou une femme, 2009, 84" x 12" x 12", steel rods on steel pipe RIGHT: Un homme et une femme, 2009, 78" x 24" x 24", steel

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Un homme ou une femme, 2009, 84" x 12" x 12", steel rods on steel pipe RIGHT: Un homme et une femme, 2009, 78" x 24" x 24", steel

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Il voulait que je sois mĂŠcanicien, 2009, 68" x 212" x43", motorcycle engine parts in steel frames

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Il voulait que je sois mĂŠcanicien, 2009, 68" x 212" x43", motorcycle engine parts in steel frames

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79


La Seine (de Paris à la mer), 2009, 17.5" x 576" x 100", cast zinc, sand, and pigment RIGHT: La Seine (de Paris à la mer), 2009 (detail)

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Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas LEFT: Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas

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La Seine (de Paris à la mer), 2009, 17.5" x 576" x 100", cast zinc, sand, and pigment RIGHT: La Seine (de Paris à la mer), 2009 (detail)

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Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas LEFT: Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas

81


Le Desert des Agriates 1, 2009, 32" x 95" x 24", acrylic on zinc RIGHT: Le Desert des Agriates 2, 2009, 33" x 81" x 22", acrylic on zinc

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Le Desert des Agriates 1, 2009, 32" x 95" x 24", acrylic on zinc RIGHT: Le Desert des Agriates 2, 2009, 33" x 81" x 22", acrylic on zinc

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83


Untitled, 2009, 9" x 101.5" x 13.5", relcaimed oak wood floor RIGHT: Untitled, 2009, 21" x 100" x 30", plastered burlap on kirei board

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85


Untitled, 2009, 9" x 101.5" x 13.5", relcaimed oak wood floor RIGHT: Untitled, 2009, 21" x 100" x 30", plastered burlap on kirei board

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85


Le Desert des Agriates 3, 2009, 69.5" x 80" x 26.5", plastered burlap and pine wood

86

Le Desert des Agriates 4, 2009, 45.5" x 57.5" x 30.5", zinc and maple wood

87

Le Desert des Agriates 5, 2009, 76" x 67" x 20.5", zinc and kirei board OVER: Le Desert des Agriates 5, 2009 (detail)

88


Le Desert des Agriates 3, 2009, 69.5" x 80" x 26.5", plastered burlap and pine wood

86

Le Desert des Agriates 4, 2009, 45.5" x 57.5" x 30.5", zinc and maple wood

87

Le Desert des Agriates 5, 2009, 76" x 67" x 20.5", zinc and kirei board OVER: Le Desert des Agriates 5, 2009 (detail)

88


Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas RIGHT: Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas

Untitled, 2009, 44" x 138" x 84", reclaimed oak wood floor PAGES 92-93: Les Acrobates 1, 2009, 80" x 142" x 23.5", exotic wood veneer on plywood PAGES 94-95: Les Acrobates 2, 2009, 88" x 110" x 23", exotic wood veneer on plywood

Untitled, 2009, 131" x 40" x 40", steel rods cast in zinc, cedar base

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90

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Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas RIGHT: Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas

Untitled, 2009, 44" x 138" x 84", reclaimed oak wood floor PAGES 92-93: Les Acrobates 1, 2009, 80" x 142" x 23.5", exotic wood veneer on plywood PAGES 94-95: Les Acrobates 2, 2009, 88" x 110" x 23", exotic wood veneer on plywood

Untitled, 2009, 131" x 40" x 40", steel rods cast in zinc, cedar base

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90

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Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas RIGHT: Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas

Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas LEFT: Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas

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Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas RIGHT: Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas

Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas LEFT: Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas

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94


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Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas RIGHT: Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas

Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas LEFT: Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas

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Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas RIGHT: Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas

Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas LEFT: Untitled, 2005, 70”x 50”, oil on canvas

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Biography

be a bit of an explorer in my own world, working to create a conversation between my artistic visions and the technical nuances, as well as the material mixtures, all of which are necessary components of my artwork.

with his American wife and went on to forge a lucrative international business career in executive boardroom consulting. Switching career gears a few years following the dot com bust in early 2000, Laurent briefly entered the world of architecture and design, a trade he also learned from his father, who throughout his childhood was in the constant process of building the family’s home, and a skill-set that would eventually lead to the realization of Laurent’s sculptures.

THEN Born outside of Paris, France in 1969, artist Alexis Laurent left the city with his parents as a toddler and was raised during the 1970s and 80s in rural Southern France. Throughout his early youth Laurent watched his formally trained artist parents working 6 months out of each year selling crepes for 4 hours a day in the little village of Biot, and dedicating the rest of their year to creating and selling their jewelry. At the age of seven, following his parent’s divorce, Laurent and his younger sister moved with their father, occasionally an uncle, and two dogs, to what he describes as a 180 sq. ft. hill top cabin, “just nearly the size of the entrance I’ve built for my San Francisco art studio.”

As an artist I have to respect myself as a creator and know how to balance my body and the rhythm of what brings my art to life. With the reckless, ‘try anything’ energy that I put into my paintings everyday for months, I find I can lose myself and that my creative energy needs to switch gears and focus on a different process. Hence I go to sculptures, which propels me to enter a plan-oriented phase. Like pistons, one creative outlet kicks for months, then the next. It’s a balancing act emotionally and physically, one that constantly refills my energy.

Following the birth of his first child, Laurent began to re-think his career trajectory and decided to return to France with his soon to be pregnant wife and infant daughter for a two and half year sabbatical. It was during this return to the South of France that Laurent began to hone his artistic skills, techniques and concepts to create the dominant lexicon and narrative for his artistic vision.

With little room for childhood games within the family cabin, Laurent spent a large portion of his childhood outside exploring the natural world, or when the weather did not permit, within his father’s jewelry workshop. It was in his father’s workshop, where Laurent spent hours playing with materials, mixtures and tools of the trade, that he first began to experiment with many of the skill-sets that are present in his artistic lexicon today.

France was a place where we cocooned. Without the constraints of a traditional job I was able to be in a state of creative incubation, reopening old draws from my childhood, re-examining what’s in them, and seeing how my past was going to mix with my new skills and my future. It was about figuring out how it is was all going to gel. Returning home to the States with his family in 2006, Laurent decided to dedicate himself fulltime to large-scale painting. A permanent studio and sculpting were soon to join the mix.

As part of an unconventional ‘big city’ family who had moved into a traditional close-knit agricultural village near the Cote d’Azur, Laurent largely grew up as an outsider, with the ‘Do it Your Own Way’ mentality instilled in him through his parent’s examples of career and livelihood. Similar to his parents, Laurent embraced the gift of freedom and curiosity as a ways and means to create and build his own dreams. However, unlike his bohemian parents, Laurent decided at a young age never to be confined due to societal preconceptions or financial constraints, and so it has been.

NOW Creating art for Laurent is a multi-faceted discipline, one that is constantly evolving within his studio. Finding new inspiration in the different artistic rhythms that both painting and sculpting bring to his artwork Laurent credits to his eclectic past, which enables him to have access to multiple skill-sets. Daily I’m using the skills I learned from my artist parents and those from my previous careers for the purpose of making art. With this mix of long-engrained creative skills, coupled with business management and architectural contracting

Upon graduation with advanced university degrees from Aix-en-Provence and the Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po Paris) in the 1990s, Laurent moved to the United States

98

In the big picture however, it is a dedicated impatience to create, Laurent states, that ultimately drives his artistic process, and for all of Laurent’s current work, the studio, with its vistas of the city and ample workspace, is the place where imagination gestates and Laurent’s impatience propels creation. Notes Laurent,

design skills where it’s all about working with teams, I find when applied to my art the sky becomes the limit.

This studio has provided me with the space to be creative on a grand scale. It’s allowing me to leverage all those skills and life trainings, and apply them to an aesthetic purpose. With sculpting I can have multiple projects occurring at once in the studio. I can be prototyping pieces and problem solving aspects of creating a threedimensional design, while bringing another idea into action with my team to see if it works; if it’s structurally sound; and assembling crews and subcontractors who are willing to be curious about new concepts and creations. At the same time, the studio allows me to hold my own space for painting, away from the zinc casts, hammers, and torches. The successful results are as much about creative inspiration, as they are about the technical, material, and personal collaborations intrinsic to my work.

Laurent’s application of his skills in team and project management fulfill a practical means in the creation of his artwork and; be they analyzing CAD drawings prepared by subcontractors, utilizing the knowledge and equipment of a zinc foundry shop to trouble shoot the pouring of sculpture casts, or collaborating on a longdistance project; are essential elements in the achievement of his artistic visions. Similar to his approach to teamwork in his studio, mixing traditional and non-traditional materials and creating unions between materials is a vital component for Laurent as he continues to push the limits of his artwork and explore new forms of complementing materials, witnessing how they visually react and communicate beyond their prescribed roles. In both my painting and my sculptures, I work to create lasting stories for the eyes and senses, not cerebral one-liners. In trying to do so I get to

99


Biography

be a bit of an explorer in my own world, working to create a conversation between my artistic visions and the technical nuances, as well as the material mixtures, all of which are necessary components of my artwork.

with his American wife and went on to forge a lucrative international business career in executive boardroom consulting. Switching career gears a few years following the dot com bust in early 2000, Laurent briefly entered the world of architecture and design, a trade he also learned from his father, who throughout his childhood was in the constant process of building the family’s home, and a skill-set that would eventually lead to the realization of Laurent’s sculptures.

THEN Born outside of Paris, France in 1969, artist Alexis Laurent left the city with his parents as a toddler and was raised during the 1970s and 80s in rural Southern France. Throughout his early youth Laurent watched his formally trained artist parents working 6 months out of each year selling crepes for 4 hours a day in the little village of Biot, and dedicating the rest of their year to creating and selling their jewelry. At the age of seven, following his parent’s divorce, Laurent and his younger sister moved with their father, occasionally an uncle, and two dogs, to what he describes as a 180 sq. ft. hill top cabin, “just nearly the size of the entrance I’ve built for my San Francisco art studio.”

As an artist I have to respect myself as a creator and know how to balance my body and the rhythm of what brings my art to life. With the reckless, ‘try anything’ energy that I put into my paintings everyday for months, I find I can lose myself and that my creative energy needs to switch gears and focus on a different process. Hence I go to sculptures, which propels me to enter a plan-oriented phase. Like pistons, one creative outlet kicks for months, then the next. It’s a balancing act emotionally and physically, one that constantly refills my energy.

Following the birth of his first child, Laurent began to re-think his career trajectory and decided to return to France with his soon to be pregnant wife and infant daughter for a two and half year sabbatical. It was during this return to the South of France that Laurent began to hone his artistic skills, techniques and concepts to create the dominant lexicon and narrative for his artistic vision.

With little room for childhood games within the family cabin, Laurent spent a large portion of his childhood outside exploring the natural world, or when the weather did not permit, within his father’s jewelry workshop. It was in his father’s workshop, where Laurent spent hours playing with materials, mixtures and tools of the trade, that he first began to experiment with many of the skill-sets that are present in his artistic lexicon today.

France was a place where we cocooned. Without the constraints of a traditional job I was able to be in a state of creative incubation, reopening old draws from my childhood, re-examining what’s in them, and seeing how my past was going to mix with my new skills and my future. It was about figuring out how it is was all going to gel. Returning home to the States with his family in 2006, Laurent decided to dedicate himself fulltime to large-scale painting. A permanent studio and sculpting were soon to join the mix.

As part of an unconventional ‘big city’ family who had moved into a traditional close-knit agricultural village near the Cote d’Azur, Laurent largely grew up as an outsider, with the ‘Do it Your Own Way’ mentality instilled in him through his parent’s examples of career and livelihood. Similar to his parents, Laurent embraced the gift of freedom and curiosity as a ways and means to create and build his own dreams. However, unlike his bohemian parents, Laurent decided at a young age never to be confined due to societal preconceptions or financial constraints, and so it has been.

NOW Creating art for Laurent is a multi-faceted discipline, one that is constantly evolving within his studio. Finding new inspiration in the different artistic rhythms that both painting and sculpting bring to his artwork Laurent credits to his eclectic past, which enables him to have access to multiple skill-sets. Daily I’m using the skills I learned from my artist parents and those from my previous careers for the purpose of making art. With this mix of long-engrained creative skills, coupled with business management and architectural contracting

Upon graduation with advanced university degrees from Aix-en-Provence and the Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po Paris) in the 1990s, Laurent moved to the United States

98

In the big picture however, it is a dedicated impatience to create, Laurent states, that ultimately drives his artistic process, and for all of Laurent’s current work, the studio, with its vistas of the city and ample workspace, is the place where imagination gestates and Laurent’s impatience propels creation. Notes Laurent,

design skills where it’s all about working with teams, I find when applied to my art the sky becomes the limit.

This studio has provided me with the space to be creative on a grand scale. It’s allowing me to leverage all those skills and life trainings, and apply them to an aesthetic purpose. With sculpting I can have multiple projects occurring at once in the studio. I can be prototyping pieces and problem solving aspects of creating a threedimensional design, while bringing another idea into action with my team to see if it works; if it’s structurally sound; and assembling crews and subcontractors who are willing to be curious about new concepts and creations. At the same time, the studio allows me to hold my own space for painting, away from the zinc casts, hammers, and torches. The successful results are as much about creative inspiration, as they are about the technical, material, and personal collaborations intrinsic to my work.

Laurent’s application of his skills in team and project management fulfill a practical means in the creation of his artwork and; be they analyzing CAD drawings prepared by subcontractors, utilizing the knowledge and equipment of a zinc foundry shop to trouble shoot the pouring of sculpture casts, or collaborating on a longdistance project; are essential elements in the achievement of his artistic visions. Similar to his approach to teamwork in his studio, mixing traditional and non-traditional materials and creating unions between materials is a vital component for Laurent as he continues to push the limits of his artwork and explore new forms of complementing materials, witnessing how they visually react and communicate beyond their prescribed roles. In both my painting and my sculptures, I work to create lasting stories for the eyes and senses, not cerebral one-liners. In trying to do so I get to

99


ALEXIS LAURENT: PAINTINGS AND SCULPTURE Introduction by Robert Flynn Johnson ISBN 978-0-9777442-9-9 Front and back cover image: Untitled, 2009, 93" x 45", acrylic on zinc (detail) Designed by Urban Digital Color/Gallery 16 Photographs by Robert J. Schroeder Photography Biography by Norris Communications Copyright ©2010 Alexis Laurent All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without written permission from Alexis Laurent. Produced in an edition of 2,000 including 500 slipcased, signed copies each with an original zinc stamp made by the artist. alexislaurent.com

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This book is the result of the work/influence of a great number of individuals who have contributed their experience and enthusiasm to the project. My first and most important thanks go to my wife, Liza Finkelstein. It is fair to say that I would most likely not even be an artist without her unlimited support at every level. Our children, Tia and Olivier are, next to her, the reason I wake up everyday with a purpose in a house filled with joy. I am also deeply indebted to my parents who as artists and artisans seeded the passion to be a free and creative person from the very beginning. I am tremendously thankful to my wife’s parents. Throughout the years, they have been a great source of inspiration. And just as importantly, they always respected my drive to do things ‘my own way’.

Two of my closest friends, Eric Heid and Rob Hadley, have played key roles in my artistic development. The weekly impromptu critiques with Eric of my sculptures have saved many pieces from failling; thank you! And Rob, has been a vital eye and mind for my painting for many years. Edwin Monzon and Jesus Lopez of MER Construction play a critical role in the building of all the sculptures. So much of the recent work would not have been possible without their incredible work ethic and willingness to try new things. This book would not exist would it not be for the very hard work and curatorial mastery of Robert Flynn Johnson. On very short notice, he jumped onto the train and single-handedly selected and choreographed the ‘whole show’. Along with Robert, Griff Williams and Troy Peters at Gallery 16 played a major role in shaping the book into something I am very proud of. Robert Schroeder of Schroeder Photography, working on a 10’ tall scaffold or with a tripod, wonderfully captured the essence of my work in his photos. Finally, Wendy Norris of Norris Communications, has been by my side from the beginning, making sure that my ‘baby steps’ are a success, even when they are giant leaps of faith into the future. It is when I mix all of the above ingredients in my daily “vinaigrette” that I can be creative... and decide on a short notice to... make a book! Thank you all for your love, commitment, and hard work. Alexis Laurent, March 2010


PAINTING AND SCULPTURE

PAINTING AND SCULPTURE

ALEXIS LAURENT ALEXIS LAURENT

Alexis Laurent: Painting & Sculpture  

With an introduction by Robert Flynn Johnson

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