In the first of a series of interviews with artists taking part in London’s forthcoming Talented Art Fair in March, 55Pages meets French artist Frédéric Lère.
Working from his studio in Manhattan’s Garment District, Frédéric has been exploring the surrounding urban landscapes for the last 15 years, leading up to his most recent series featuring paintings of the High Line.
In just a few words, who are you and what do you do?
My name is Frédéric Lère. I am a painter, sculptor and muralist based in New York. I am also a regular collaborator to the murals of another painter, Mark Beard.
What is your background?
I studied sculpture at the École-des -Beaux-Arts of Tours, France. Upon graduating, I worked as a comic book artist and illustrator, first in Paris then in New York, where I discovered and started working on scenic art and murals. I haven’t looked back since…
How would you describe your work?
My landscapes and cityscapes are always painted in a sequence, as in a comic strip. I am especially interested in series, so when I approach a neighbourhood or a street, I always try to explore them through different angles.
Who are your biggest influences?
I would say that my two main influences are the American painter Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975) who started the Regionalist movement and the muralists from the WPA period (Works Progress Administration) from the 1930’s. My work certainly owes a lot to them.
Who is your favourite artist and why?
Currently, it is Antony Gormley. I will always remember his art installation at the Palais des Nations in Geneva: hundreds of tiny clay figures, all made by a different person using her or his own hand as a mould hundreds of people collaborated on this artwork, expressing a silent scream to governments: “Don’t mess with us, your little political scores mean life or death for us”. I wish the current US president had seen it before implementing his policies...
What makes you get up and paint?
I always work late into the night. And when I go to sleep, think about what I painted that evening. Then I wake up to discover that, by daylight, the work from the previous night has to be corrected: mistakes building up on top of mistakes. Maybe it makes it right at the end. I hope.
What is it about New York that inspires you?
New York changes so quickly - you blink and something new appears… Often for the better: sometimes it’s a piece of public art in the middle of a subway station or a pedestrian plaza, or trees in the middle of Broadway, or bicycle lanes and even new parks, like the High Line. Is it going to last? Not sure…
What will you be showing at Talented Art Fair?
I will bring some of my panoramic views of Midtown Manhattan and the High Line.
What are you most looking forward to when you come to London?
Meeting new people, sharing many new experiences; maybe getting some inspiration for a new series? London could be my “new” New York? I will expect the unexpected and try not to blink…
Talented Art Fair – 17-19 March 2017
The Old Truman Bewery, London E1
Talented Art Fair