'The sea…if you knock on her door, you will see that if she lets you in, you will never leave again. We go back a long way, the sea and me, and these ships draw us together. Maybe this is why, when I am with her, I never feel alone. I have not actually asked her yet but I guess, if I am still alive today, she must also care for me. Even though, as with any other old couple, neither her nor me will ever raise the subject.
I had sailed for so long on her belly that one day it occurred to me that I had become more a man of the sea than of the land: I have spent more time treading metal gangways and exotic wood decks than walking on dry land. I have not actually finished listing all the ships I helped keep afloat… These ships were impossible. They would challenge nature and scoff at it… Just like a house of cards in stormy seas.'
- Epilogue, Les Carnets d'un marin, Sylvain Lefebvre
French painter Sylvain Lefebvre sees himself as an explorer of his own personal universe, an ‘imaginary wanderer in search of new lands’.
Inspired by a childhood of travelling with a father in theatre, Lefebvre’s paintings combine many influences – studying in Paris, teen years in England, visits to Brazil, a home near the Le Havre docks and later years on the Spanish border. These elements are mixed up with allusions to art history, literary references and motifs from popular culture, to create a strange, dream-like scenography.
The sense of miscellany in Lefebvre’s paintings is accentuated through his media. Synthetic polymer and gel paints are combined with collage, using found and rare papers which the artist spends years seeking out. Old wallpapers, packaging and letters written long ago layer each work with narratives for the viewer to interpret. Each canvas is a palimpsest on which different times, places and stories overlap.