How does one celebrate life in death? Lucie de Syracuse seems to know the answer

Lucie de Syracuse‘s Cabinet of Curiosities is far from being conventional – filled with images inspired by Dark Romanticism, and exploring diverse taboo topics capable of making you really uncomfortable, her glass globes strike you with their ability to combine transcendence with eeriness.

A self-taught creator, Lucie has never attended an art school, but has, however, obtained her degree in French literature. It is during her studies – focused on Dark Romanticism – that she developed a passion for the curiously sublime eccentricity that she would later employ as the style of her works.

BARBE À PAPA, 2018

How did you first come up with the concept of your Cabinet of curiosities?

In the beginning I didn’t really think about creating a cabinet of curiosities, as what is important to me is to display used and broken objects. I am constantly in search of the right shape, material, idea, and representation – it is, above all, an artistic work. The fact that it’s contained in an old curved glass globe makes it possible to associate such depiction with a cabinet of curiosities.

What’s the recurring theme of your works? What’s its significance for you personally?

The recurring themes of my works are fantasticality, Dark Romanticism, irony, and all the topics that go alongside with humanity, love, disappointment in love, death and its taming, sickness, quest for spirituality, power, dreams and nightmares, etc. I am open to exploring everything.

Which of your works is your favourite and why?

I’ve always loved broken or wrecked objects. I’ve always loved broken or wrecked human beings. For example, when I came across the small doll that would later become the central piece of the composition of Esprit des bois (in English: “Spirit of the woods”), it had a scalped head, no hair, no eyes, part of its scull missing – it was fascinating!

Its eyes were there at the bottom of the head: two blue eyes made of beautiful sulfide. The doll would not later have them in their usual place, but in a small basket next to it hanging from one of the bars of the chair in which it was sitting.

The doll sees differently, and surely more deeply than I ever could. Its spirit escapes through the crack and reigns over the entire forest. And its extraordinary sight does not miss any moment of life or death, of distress or remorse, instantly going wherever it is called. It cares, it consoles, it saves all that can be saved. I really like this sculpture.

LES YEUX, 2016

Does your creating “morbid” scenes and images rather than cheerful ones mean that you see the world that way?

No, not at all! I don’t see morbidity in what I create. I see life the way it is. Perhaps it’s just an illusion, but I see it in its entire beauty. I magnify death – I want it to be full of life, too.

I make room for traumatic experiences, or disturbing ones, but it is also important for people to talk about them more easily. There are always taboos, things we don’t want to see, things that make the humankind angry. I use the fantastic to make the most hidden secrets visible. In my point of view, the course of life is disturbing in its fragility, and my sculptures naturally reflect it.

Do your family and friends find your works bizarre?

Yes, of course, and I understand them. My father, in particular, doesn’t like at all the clay heads that I create: those are grotesque heads with big mouths, and very naïve expressions. Otherwise, my family and friends can now see how their own history is revealed in my sculptures – in other words, they have learnt to observe them.

SPIRIT, 2017

Do you create your works at home or in a studio? What does your workplace look like?

I work in a workshop – a very small one. It is in my garden. There are many people, and rather little space. It’s like chaos with a little order: porcelain canopies, old decorations, taxidermied animals, tools, books, old photos, and bridal globes are all mixed up, but each one has its number! This is the place where I feel good.

What are your future plans regarding your art? Any particular projects you are working on at the moment?

I am organising an April exhibition at Yvonne in Bordeaux. I am also preparing an exhibition in Paris in the gallery Cabinet des Curieux, and working on an exhibition for libraries for the year 2020.

LA MORTE FIANCÉE, 2018

Photo credit: Miguel Ramos

Interested in learning more about Lucie de Syracuse or getting in touch with her? Here is where you can find her:

The universe of emotions, humour and poetry in the works of the French sculptor Jean-François André

An autodidact with a multidisciplinary background, Jean-François André creates sculptures of such sublime beauty that it’s sometimes too easy to forget about their iron-and-stone essence.

Having worked for the Bordeaux National Orchestra, as well as for the Opera of Bordeaux where he operated as part of the ballet technical production team, Jean-François decided to fully dedicate himself to his passion for creation.

Find out more about the artist and his calling in the interview below (translated from French), in which Jean-François reveals some practical aspects of the world of sculpture.

Self-taught French sculptor Jean-François André

It is said in the description of your profile that you are a self-taught artist. How can one learn arts & crafts on his/her own?

I have an inborn talent for 3D visualisation, as well as an understanding of how natural forces work, and an overview of various existing techniques.  What is more, I love challenges – I can say that I am adventurous and creative. I have always experimented with tools and materials. Over time these experiments allowed me to master certain techniques, to adapt or to modify them in order to obtain the desired result.

How did you first decide what materials you wanted to work with?

The materials were chosen in an opportunistic manner based on their financial and technical accessibility. I started with earthen, plaster, cement, collected wood, then acquired wood, which was followed by crushed glass and resin, stone, iron, stainless steel…At the moment it is cling film that I am working with.

MEMORIES OF THE 20-TH CENTURY
iron

What’s the very first step you take to create a new sculpture?

The first step is the process of3D visualisation of an emotion or an idea in my head.

How do you estimate the price of a sculpture?

The current price of my work is a result of thousands of works of art that I have already sold  and that serve as the point of reference for me.  At first the prices of my sculptures barely covered the cost prices, but with time they were adapted based on the prices that my clients were ready to pay in order to acquire one of my works.

What’s the ultimate objective of your artwork? Is there a specific message you wish to deliver to the world?

My work, when it is not only an aesthetic pleasure, reflects my desire to promote the values of respect and humanity through humour, and, at the same, to encourage introspection.

OBLIVION
iron, tulip tree

What kind of art is “mainstream” these days and why? How do you ensure your works are in demand with so much competition?

I never strive to be in a mainstream in order to seduce people into buying. I leave it to art critics to analyse my works if they please. My only concern is to alleviate my soul from its suffering by the means of artistic expression. My wish, above all, is to not make what has already been made – this way the originality of a personal and honest creation allows me to stand out from the competition.

Would it be possible for a person who sees you for the first time to guess that your profession is art-related?  Is your creativity somehow manifested in your everyday life?

No, I don’t play the artist – I do not wish to become a caricature whose sole purpose is to attract attention of potential clients. I am an artist, but I’m also father, grandfather, husband, friend, colleague, student, traveler…All of these roles integrated.

My creativity manifests itself in all aspects of my life, as it is the result of extreme greed – a desire to constantly discover and create, a need to pass on solidarity. It is not a tool to highlight for highlighting my person.

STRADD INTERMEZZO
beech, stone

Interested in learning more about the artist or getting in touch with him? Here is where you can find Jean-François André and more of his works:

P.S. The artist’s page is entirely in French but Jean-François himself can speak some English 😉