A Quick Trip through Life with Pierre Lefebvre
New Paintings at Delire Gallery Brussels – January 31 – March 1, 2014
This large canvas of a carousel in the front window, beckons all who pass by, to enter the Delire Gallery in the Ixelles art district of Brussels. Inside the small, bright space are six more from Pierre Lefebvre’s series of seven new paintings.
Unless you have a French heart, (or perhaps a Russian one,) it might be slightly difficult at first, to find cohesion between the images presented in this exhibition. The vibrant swirling carousel is accompanied by four medium canvasses, each depicting a solitary pigeon on cobblestones, one of a large, gray section from an anonymous cemetery, and a small, lovely and colorfully detailed painting, which appeared to my American eyes to show a fancy fan-pull.
But after a short guide from gallery owner Sébastien Delire, the brilliance of this ensemble becomes blindingly clear.
Transported back to our childhood, we see the carousel spinning round and round with blurring speed. Each vehicle is a path of destiny.
The gallery’s accompanying pamphlet (which I did not read until later,) states it perfectly:“On which ship did you escape reality? Which animal took you on a travel? A rocket, an elephant, a tank, a carriage, the police motorcycle, the horse?”
What did you dream of? Which path did you choose in life?
Next comes the large room. Each of the four walls carries a single canvas, (two shown here) framed alone by the vast whiteness. Four depictions of a pigeon, walking around on cobblestones, seemingly aimless.
Aren’t we all like this pigeon? Slightly confused by our surroundings, just trying to make it through life, get some food, avoid harm, not quite sure what’s coming next.
The viewer must turn in a circle to see each painting in this room.
Do you still feel like you are on the carousel?
In Lefebvre’s previous exhibition. I noted that he had a knack for capturing obscure little snapshots of life, small vignettes depicting scenes that most others wouldn’t think twice about. And these pigeons are like that as well. As we all walk, drive, ride our way through life, how often do you stop to notice the pigeons? They’re always there, going about their business. Trying to make due, same as you. It’s always the children who have a free enough spirit to get excited about pigeons on the street. Well… children and those photographers with the heart of a child. In every square you can see children running toward the pigeons, scattering them like a cloud of magic dust, and also a photographer, crouched inconspicuously, trying to capture them in motion.
Lefebvre, with his child’s heart and snapshot-like paintings, has captured them here and presents them for you to consider, in a manner you’re much more comfortable with. Art on a wall.
Do you feel more grown-up now?
Good, because now we move on to the next room.
The final room is much more cramped and poorly lit. The exact opposite of the previous room. Here there are two paintings on opposing walls. One is a very large, drab canvas that looms from high on the wall. It depicts a section of graves in a cemetery. Yes, death comes for us all. I will not try to represent this imposing painting with measly pixels. Go see it for yourself. Even being there I felt I had to step out of the room, backing up to try and take it all in. But you can’t really accomplish that task. You’re forced to be in the room with it. It invades your personal space. You must confront it, or turn away.
And in turning away, Lefebvre, with a wink, gives you a little chance at a way out.
This small painting I thought was showing a fancy fan-pull, is actually a traditional feature of some European carousels. This small ball and tassel, similar to the Brass Ring on some American carousels, is dangled barely within reach of the riders.
If you are lucky enough to grab the right one. You get to ride again!
Can you reach it? Do you get a Free Life? Re-start? Do-over? Reincarnation?
What will you dream of this time?
New Paintings by Pierre Lefebvre
on show at Delire Gallery Brussels – January 31 – March 1, 2014
ALL IMAGES IN THIS POST ©PIERRE LEFEBVRE
Written by Lance Aram Rothstein 2/7/2014