French painter Sylvain Lefebvre sees himself as an explorer of his own personal universe, an ‘imaginary wanderer in search of new lands’.
His highly-anticipated second exhibition in London reveals worlds between reality and imagination. A tiger runs through the pastel streets of Belsize Park, an impossibly large marbled whale coils around a tugboat, and Velázquez’ Infanta rides in the back of a convertible through a red desert.
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.