ARTIST OF MONTH - Léonard Bourgois Beaulieu
A year ago
Portrait, Léonard Bourgois Beaulieu
- what was the first photography book you bought?
I think it was a very old edition of Hans Bellmer’s photographs, the hand-painted ones. Its simplicity is amazing. I think my work has always been about going further within hand-modified artworks.
- what is your favourite colour?
When I showed my first photographs to Steve Hiett we talked about the black and white ones, my photo of kids exploding water balloons was his favorite, then he saw a colour photo and said “I love these yellow nuances”, which I saw orange. That’s the day I realised I was looking at the world with a different set of colours! So I am really not sure which one is my favorite for it could be completely different to you.
- who are your photographic influences?
My influences come from cinema. I started as an actor and director, WF Murnau was a big influence. Painters were more influential to me than photographers. Hantai, Twombly, Rothko, Barnett Newman, Sam Francis, which makes me realise I am only talking about abstract artists … my mother was painting and my step-dad was an architect, they both made me discover a lot of contemporary art as a kid.
- what is your favourite museum?
To be quite honest there is no museum that is my favourite. I mainly go for the collections and exhibitions. I have always been wondering about the Fallingwater by Edgar J. Kaufmann. I saw a picture when I was around 5 to 6 and always fantasised about how it would be to visit a museum on top of water. You have no noise in most of the museums, here’s is one that sings or tells a story.
- if you could buy any photograph which would it be?
Saul Leiter. Saul Leiter’s coloured photographs. I have been asking for better prices from my friend Karen at Howard Greenberg Gallery. I think that 2000 or 3000 dollars is not quite what she’s expecting ahaha! Due to my eyes situation I think they appear to me even more amazing. And he knew how to show people in their absence. I love absence.
- your favourite holiday destination?
Japan. I am fond of Japan and Japanese culture. I have been there several times, many things I saw there are so theatrical that I feel at home!
- if there is one living person you could photograph who would it be?
The first that comes to mind is Tilda Swinton. And I’m not talking about a one hour photoshoot but a three day encounter, spending time to create crazy photographs. She has a presence that talks to me in terms of intelligence, beauty and humanity. Her face is so different and yet very peaceful, she could be from another planet. Only few people can say they come from another planet, Bowie and Swinton maybe?!
- what is your guilty pleasure?
Discovering new passions. I am actually thinking about creating a woodcraft section to my studio. I feel like I have to work on wood. Last year I started drums, bakery and apiculture.
- what is your favourite city?
Well should I say Tokyo again? I have lived in NYC several times, and of course the city changes so much that it has been a strong part of my life.
- which charities do you support?
I make some efforts to remain quite secretive about that so I will just say that you can always find ways to help people. You can listen, deeply listen to human beings around you and make your best to go beyond your ideas to understand their pain and stories. Feeling listened to is an amazing thing you can provide to someone in need, most of my last ten years in creating art has been about telling the stories of people who feel cast out. Then you can also help with your money of course. For that you will probably follow your heart. But let’s keep in touch with reality of other people’s pain.
See all Léonard Bourgois Beaulieu artworks here