Lance Letscher, collages récents

De retour de l’atelier de Lance Letscher à Austin (Texas), je voudrais vous faire partager mon enthousiasme pour les récents collages de l’artiste, où se retrouvent les couleurs brillantes, l’extrême luminosité et la luxuriance du paysage texan, avec des effets de « peinture » très remarquables.
Bien cordialement,

Bernard Vidal

 

Cactus Flower, 2019, collage, 29 x 32 cm

Cactus Garden, 2019, collage, 32 x 32 cm

 

Christian, 2019, collage, 35,5 x 24 cm

 

In the Water, 2019, collage, 48 x 65 cm

 

The Tree, 2019, collage, 28 x 21,5 cm


Lance Letscher interview november 2017 for Modern Painters

One can’t help getting caught up in your designs, your stories —the visual tangle of thoughts is at times terrifying. There’s a link, too, to Outsider Art with your brand of compulsiveness — the inner rollercoaster, a descent downward perhaps, but also inward.

I do feel those feelings, but by discarding much of what I learned in art school, I began to consider the mental mechanics of creativity — the struggle for dominance between the conscious and unconscious.

In your early pieces, you covered objects with lead: children’s chairs, tricycles, a dissecting table. A series of small, dark paintings of angels, people carrying off dead friends and relatives were all sober, all black and white, each loaded with a narrative of death and survival.

Most were made in the late 1980s at the University of Texas graduate school. I’d read a lot about the concentration camps and then visited Oświęcim, where Auschwitz and Birkenau were located. The Holocaust permeated my work at that time.

I was taken by the child’s ballet slipper, a pillow that looked like someone had slept on it, an isolated arm — all intimately sculpted from white marble. I found some white marble tombstone blanks in East Austin in 1989 and just dove into this beautiful, luminous material. Eventually, though, carving marble became too time consuming, the work too fragile. It was then I started the first quick and simple collages to gain back spontaneity, to work through ideas in a more direct way.

In the film, a collector cites your collage — a pair of two of hearts playing cards mirroring each other, citing their poetry, their symmetry. 

That was made when I first met my wife, Mary — a love note to her.

How did you go from the light poetic pieces — tea- stained cloud and graphite flower collages to the large organized riots of color and narrative in your current work?

It happened over an 18-year period. The work evolved gradually with a couple of breakthroughs, but mostly the changes happened in doing the work.

Which artists influenced you along the way, and what was it about collage that stirred you? 

I read about Egon Schiele when I was about 11; my mother had art books around the house, and years ago I discovered Hannah Hoch; importantly, too, I discovered the quilts from Gees Bend.

The African American women’s quilt-making collective from Gees Bend, Alabama… 

Yes. These ladies prized innovation, amazing palettes and geometric compositions. Plus, art based on utility is very appealing to me.

I know from the film that the suicide of your father had a very powerful impact on you— and your work.

Well, that was the source of the angst…I spun out mentally over the first three years, then periodically into the present. Insomnia, physical pain, panic attacks, two psychotic episodes, suicidal thinking — a rough ride.

Yet, your control of the chaos is dizzying. “Window Study,” 2017, is a precise and exquisite study in illusion. “Sunday Painter,” 2017, is a kind of right brain/left brain see-saw. One can’t help but see the works as metaphors for the conscious and unconscious mind…

I follow color, line and perspective to create movement within the composition. The expressionistic qualities arrive on a different train — not the conscious mind. With the collages, I’m driven by what’s at hand — so the windows allowed me to play with the illusion of depth, gravity and vertigo. Themes come through the cutting — that’s 95 per cent of the work. Then I try to coax the evolution along. The works sort of detach themselves from me… and become kind of a dream within a dream.

Interview by Matthew Rose for Blouin Modern Painters

This article appears in the November 2017 edition of Modern Painters.

Day, 2017, collage en metal, 56 x 71 cm


Lance Letscher

a bird has flown into my room

à la galerie BOA

11, rue d’Artois 75008 Paris

du 7 au 29 septembre 2017

 

Oz Ball, 2017, collage, 26 x 18 x 1 cm


Critique télérama 9/04/2014

Lance Letscher

The Dream of Flight

Il n’y a pas que du pétrole au Texas, mais aussi des piles et des piles de livres scolaires, des catalogues de vente des années 50 ou encore des vieux bouquins de science fiction que l’artiste Lance Letscher, vivant à Austin, adore chiner et accumuler pour les découper, à l’aide d’un scalpel, pendant des heures, et en assembler les sujets avec une précision et une patience rares.

On verra sa récente moisson, avec ses nouveaux collages, où planent partout des avions et des petites planètes … Recycleur acharné et impromptu, l’artiste américain perpétue la tradition du collage Dada ou pop avec une attention presque baroque.

 

English version

There isn’t only oil in Texas but piles and piles of textbooks, catalogs from the 50’s or old science fiction books that the artist Lance Letscher, who lives in Austin, loves antiquing and accumulating to cut them out, with the help of a scalpel, for hours on end and assemble the subjects with a rare precision and patience.

We will see his new crop, with his new collages in which hover a multitude of planes and small planets…  A diligent and impromptu recycler, this American artist perpetrates the tradition of Dada or pop collage with and almost baroque attention.

Laurent Boudier


Lance Letscher

Communiqué de presse

Exposition du 22 mars au 12 mai 2014

-catalogue disponible-

La galerie Vidal–Saint Phalle est heureuse de présenter la quatrième exposition de Lance Letscher en France.

Lance Letscher est né en 1962 aux Etats-Unis.

Il vit et travaille à Austin, Texas.

Son travail a été exposé dans de nombreuses galeries aux Etats-Unis (principalement à New York, à la galerie Howard Scott, à San Francisco à la galerie Steven Wolf, à Los Angeles à la galerie Richard/Bennett, à Austin à la galerie David Berman, à Houston à la galerie Mc Murtrey, à Dallas à la galerie Conduit), et en Europe (en Suisse à la galerie Peter Vann, à Barcelone et Madrid à la galerie Miguel Alzueta, à Bruxelles à la galerie Pascal Polar).

L’œuvre de Lance Letscher est représentée dans de nombreuses collections publiques, principalement dans celles des musées des Beaux Arts d’Houston, d’Austin, de San Antonio, du Museum of Southeast,Texas,  duTyler museum,Texas.

En 2009, l’Université du Texas a consacré à Lance Letscher une importante monographie.

Le travail de Lance Letscher est un travail de collage.

Letscher aime à « chiner » le matériel qu’il utilise : vieux catalogues, revues un peu défraîchies, magazines ou livres usagés, cahiers d’enfants jaunis par le temps, éditions scientifiques périmées… « Tout ce qui est jeté » dit-il lui-même « possède les qualités qui m’attirent le plus, l’usure, la saleté de la longue utilisation, la manipulation, les marques et les griffonnages. »

Il procède ensuite au découpage des documents qu’il a ainsi réunis, ne laissant ce soin à personne d’autre, comme un peintre qui préparerait lui-même ses couleurs.

Excepté que ce travail (de découpe) est minutieux, fastidieux, compte tenu à la fois du nombre d’éléments retenus pour chaque collage et du fait que Letscher ne se contente pas de découper le contour des formes -extrêmement variées-  qui retiennent son attention mais parties ou détails d’entre elles, aussi bien que leurs vides, leurs espaces intérieurs, souvent avec une précision extrême, chaque coup de ciseau ou de cutter étant en soi une décision esthétique.

C’est quand il a accumulé suffisamment de matériaux, que Letscher peut composer ses collages :

Les différents éléments préalablement découpés sont assemblés sur un fond rigide (contreplaqué ou medium), arrangées, réarrangées dans un enchevêtrement complexe, foisonnant. Finalement, elles y sont collées avec une presse si puissante que l’image paraît incrustée dans ce fond, et que sur cette première couche l’artiste peut choisir d’en disposer une deuxième, une troisième…

Dans la préface du catalogue de l’exposition Laurent Boudier écrit :

Longtemps, Lance Letscher a réalisé de grandes compositions aux formes rythmiques, abstraites, offrant au regard un réseau intense de lignes ou de bandes colorées qui multipliaient les jeux ométriques. Ses marqueteries graphiques et colorées rappelaient aussi bien certaines œuvres du Constructivisme que les motifs agencés du patchwork, ou du quilt, aux EtatsUnis, pratiqué, à l’origine, sur la récupération de chutes de tissus par les esclaves noirs. Puis peu à peu, à partir de 2011, certaines œuvres ont laissé percevoir des découpages de petites maisons, dobjets, associés souvent à des lettres ou des mots, qui intriguaient la compréhension, samusaient du trouble de la lecture, images détournées, charades visuelles, cartes et diagrammes, en mosaïques étales. « Dans ce cas, souligne l’artiste, la figure sert de trame, elle permet de représenter certains souvenirs, des personnes ou des événements extérieurs susceptibles de trouver un écho avec le paysage mental de celui qui regarde l’œuvre. Cest une voie nouvelle et cela me permet de construire une structure narrative beaucoup plus complexe à travers les forces et les interactions des différents éléments de chaque collage. »


Art Paris Art Fair – Grand Palais

Retrouvez la Galerie Vidal – Saint Phalle à la foire Art Paris Art Fair au stand B10 dans la nef du Grand Palais.

Sept artistes de la galerie seront présentés lors de l’évènement: Martin Assig, Tony Bevan, Piero Pizzi Cannella, Lorenz Estermann, Pius Fox, Per Kirkeby et Lance Letscher. Cette sélection comprend à la fois des artistes confirmés mais aussi des artistes émergents comme Pius Fox dont la galerie a fait découvrir le travail pour la deuxième fois du 7 décembre 2013 au 23 janvier 2014.


Exposition du 23 mai au 13 juillet 2013

lanceweb

Lance Letscher, Tinker, 2012, collage, 30 x 21 cm

 

max

Max Neumann, L’angle droit, 6 avril 2012, technique mixte sur papier, 31 x 20

 

pfox-web

Pius Fox, Sans titre, 2011, huile sur carton, 24 x 17 cm

 

vincent-web

Vincent Hawkins, Sans titre, 2012, Acrylique sur carton , 30 x 21 cm

 

 


Lance Letscher’s Statement

9 septembre 2011

One of the themes that has been consistent with my work for the last several years is based on the idea of “interiority”; the idea of creating a visual diagram or pictorial narrative structure that reflects the mechanics of an inner thought life. Although there can be autobiographical references, mostly they are fictional and often have to do with chaotic, disjunctive or dissassociative thinking.

In some of the most recent pieces, there are hints at figuration. These figures are often used as an armature for developing depictions of independent memories, personalities or events that might come into play within an individuals inner landscape. When I happened upon this idea, it really opened up a new direction in the work in terms of building a much more complex narrative structure through the dynamics and interactions of the various characters within each piece.

Another, parallel development in the current work involves the use of typography and letter forms. These pieces often hint at words and phrases and then change direction abruptly. Part of my understanding of this direction has to do with engaging the viewer’s verbal and problem solving imagination in an elusive way to create a tension that pulls both towards and away from that type of resolution. I think that this creates an opportunity for the abstract quality of the letters and the use of color start to become the real communicative voice of the collage. The moment of that transition from verbal to visual is, to me at least, very exciting.

lance -letscher-lots-of-little-lesons-1mb

 

Un des thèmes récurrents dans mon travail de ces dernières années se fonde sur l’idée « d’intériorité » ; l’idée de créer un schéma visuel ou une structure narrative qui reflète le fonctionnement de la pensée intérieure. Celle-ci peut inclure des références autobiographiques, mais la plupart sont imaginaires et s’associent souvent à un cheminement chaotique, disjonctif et en rupture.

Dans certains de mes travaux récents, il y a des traces de figuration. Dans ce cas, la figure sert de trame permettant de représenter certains souvenirs, certaines personnes ou des événements extérieurs susceptibles d’interagir avec le paysage mental du spectateur. Quand cette idée m’est venue cela m’a ouvert une voie nouvelle et m’a permis de construire une structure narrative beaucoup plus complexe à travers les forces et interactions des différents éléments de chaque collage.

Parallèlement, l’autre évolution de mon travail est l’utilisation de lettres et de caractères typographiques. Dans ces travaux il peut être fait allusion à certains mots, certaines phrases, avant qu’il y ait un changement total de direction. Ce que je sais de cette nouvelle direction c’est qu’elle permet de provoquer indirectement l’imagination du spectateur confronté a une énigme textuelle et créer chez lui un tiraillement entre différentes solutions. À mon avis cela permet aux lettres – entités abstraites – et à la couleur de devenir la voix intérieure du collage. Le passage du verbe à la perception visuelle est très excitante, du moins pour moi.

 


Lance Letscher

9 septembre 2011

“ten cups a day” 2011, 29,2 x 20,3 cm

Exposition du 10 septembre au 29 octobre 2011

Vernissage le samedi 10 septembre en présence de l’artiste

Catalogue disponible

Life of Books, 2014, collage, 32 x 45 cm

Life of Books, 2014, collage, 32 x 45 cm

La galerie Vidal-Saint Phalle est heureuse de présenter la troisième exposition personnelle de Lance Letscher en France.

Lance Letscher a 48 ans. Il vit et travaille à Austin (Texas).

Il a été exposé dans de nombreuses galeries aux Etats-unis : Aux Howard Scott Gallery (New York et Chicago)

Steven Wolf Gallery (San Francisco) ; Conduit Gallery (Dallas, Texas); Richard/ Bennett Gallery (Los Angeles), à Austin (McMurtrey Gallery 2002-2006, David Berman Gallery, 2001-2006)

Il a également exposé en Europe :

à Barcelone (Art Gaspar, 2004) à Munich (galerie Renate Bender, 2003), à Berlin (galerie Tammen), à Bruxelles (galerie Polar).

Il est représenté dans diverses collections publiques :

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Museum of Fine Arts, Austin, Museum of Southeast Texas, Beaumont, Texas, Tyler Museum of Art, Tyler, Texas, notamment.

Lance Letscher utilise le bois, le marbre, les vieux livres et le papier, qu’il détourne.

Comme l’écrit le critique Jonathan Goodman :

« Grâce à des répétitions de formes, Lance Letscher crée des formes rythmiques, qu’il développe intuitivement, ici par le jeu parallèle de bandes colorées, là par la naissance de formes géométriques insolites et magnifiques… »

Lance Letscher incorpore également dans ses collages des mots, des phrases extraites de livres de poche ou de vieux catalogues, lettres manuscrites trouvées aux puces.

Comme le dit le conservateur du musée d’Austin, Texas, Mme Dana Friis-Hansen « sans que l’on cherche à en deviner entièrement le sens, chaque bloc de mots résonne en nous et notre inconscient.

Lance Letscher lui-même explique :

« Ma méthode de travail consiste d’abord à empiler les matériaux à les découper en parties, puis à assembler celles-ci, les coller, les mettre sous presse et les re-découper à nouveau pour aboutir à leur forme finale. Enfin je les assemble dans une composition préliminaire sans les coller. Je défais cette première composition jusqu’à ce que ça devienne intéressant. Je transfère ce qu’il en advient sur un panneau, je les colle, les mets sous presse et laisse sécher…

Mon emploi de lettres et de mots a pris différentes directions. À l’origine il s’agissait d’exprimer une pensée chaotique et délibérément incomplète. Maintenant un nombre important de travaux se présentent comme des cartes ou des diagrammes mentaux. Ceux-ci insistent habituellement sur les phénomènes de ruptures et de provocation à l’égard du spectateur. Je détourne à dessein les mots auxquels je fais allusion ou les images auxquelles je fais référence. »

 

Little Lulu, 2014, collage, 25.5 x 19 cm

Little Lulu, 2014, collage, 25.5 x 19 cm

 


Lance Letscher Interview by Daniel Perlaky

15 juin 2011

A walk past timber skeletons and heavy machinery, through the dust and haze of waning afternoon sunrays, up the narrow staircase above the carpenter shop and directly into other people’s lives – a chaotic lexicon of thousands of pieces scattered, stacked, filed, layered, lost and found, trimmed, sliced, and glued pieces of lives waiting for resurrection.

Lance Letscher assembles and reassembles this universe into a carnival of collaged art exhibited throughout galleries in the United States and Europe as well as in several books. But perhaps none of those showcases feeling quite so viscerally present and immediate than the infinite pieces of pieces surrounding us covering every surface in the studio.

Where do you find your materials?

For a long time, it was certain dumpsters; half price books etc. The stuff that gets thrown away usually is the material that has the qualities that attract me the most:wear, grime from long use and handling, marks and doodles etc. At one point, maybe fifteen or twelve years ago, I would drop my younger son into the container and point and he would do the dirty work. He’s 20 now, but a couple of years ago he gave some girl a waffle iron that he snagged on “big trash pickup day”. She wasn’t as happy about it as he was.

Do you think the materials guide your work — which is stronger: the identity of the materials you work with or your artistic will?

The work guides the work and the material choices. I am a disciple of “the unseen hand”. I am all about working in a way that takes as much of the control away from my conscious mind as possible. It (the work) has a life of it’s own, I just try to stay out of the way as much as possible. The “dreaming mind” is much more powerful than the “thinking mind”.

Do you feel that your work preserves the elements it’s made of? Is there something that attests to the past life of those materials or do they become fundamentally altered to where they’re no longer meaningful as anything other than the new whole which you’ve created?

I love the traces of other peoples lives and thoughts that become a patina on the stuff I use. Especially when I see things that little kids did in books 50 or 100 years ago. They were bored and, I think, more creative because of it. At one point, I stopped listening to the radio while I worked (I work alone) to promote a more profound sense of boredom which I hoped would improve the work.

The work did get better, but it has made me into a very dull person, especially socially. If you have ever seen the Philip Guston painting where he shows himself as a giant grotesque eye – you can grow an eye like that if you are willing to force yourself to abide in this level of absolute and excruciating boredom. It is very dangerous though. There comes a certain point when you would do anything to escape…this is partly the reason for the high levels of drug abuse and alcoholism in creatives. Plus, the big eye takes an enormous amount of energy to run.

When you finish a piece do you generally end up with what you envisioned at the start or is it something completely different?

I never pre – plan. If I accidentally do, I sabotage it when I am fully committed.

Because your work is made up of pre-existing pieces, do you feel that it’s wholly your own or is it a collaboration with some unseen partners?

I pray alot.

Describe the process or steps involved in physically making a typical piece?

Gather material into piles according to something; color or whatever. The piles = the pallet. Cut pieces to make parts. Assemble the parts or components from the cut pieces. Glue, press and re cut the parts to their finished shape. Assemble the parts into a preliminary composition without glue. Mess with that part until the composition starts to become interesting. Transfer the parts onto a board with glue and press. Allow several days drying time. About three quarters of the time, I end up cropping or cutting to re assemble after it is dry and I can really see what it looks like. This requires a table saw since the piece is backed with wood at this point. Usually, I work on several similar sized and themed pieces at the same time, so I have more raw material to work with when it’s “table saw” time.

If you look closely at some of my work, you might notice that the backing board is sometimes five or six layers thick. Each re assembly requires a new solid backing board (glued and pressed again)to hold everything together. The thicker ones were harder to resolve. I don’t really have any other trade secrets. Change your blade often. Cut away from yourself.

Do you sketch out ideas regularly and, if so, how many of those become a finished piece?

No, never, none.

In one sense you have a great degree of geometric precision in your work but on the other hand you also hand-make everything so there’s an inherent impreciseness as well. Could you comment on that dichotomy?

Within every man, a war rages between the forces of good and evil, darkness and light. At stake in this battle are the mind, personality and soul. My work is about this interior landscape and drama. Sounds corny or ironic, but really that is the crux of life that runs the gamut from the very mundane tensions and challenges to full blown emotional and psychological crisis that we all have (or will) experience. I heard a primitive Pentecostal preacher on the radio over twenty years ago say it this way (I’ll paraphrase but it stuck with me) – The universe is vast and probably teeming with life both superior and inferior to our own species. But there is one important fact that distinguishes the Earth from all of the other planets in all of the innumerable solar systems in our infinite universe. The Earth is the planet that Satan fell into after his rebellion. This is the land that he inhabits and prowls. And this is where we abide as well.

In many of your pieces there’s also an absolute chaotic overload and destruction of precision in the composition but the pieces are often things associated with precise mechanisms (gears, ladders, tools). What is the idea you’re exploring there?

Ditto. Some of the “building” pieces are more simple in regards to this dynamic. They are dysfunctional models that have a feeling of precarious equilibrium that I really identify with and see as a very prevalent state.

What attracts you to typography and letterforms and what is the meaning for you in their reassembled, somewhat abstracted, finished products? Do you intentionally strip the meaning of words by re purposing the building blocks from which they’re made?

I think that the use of letters has started to function in several different ways in the work. At first, it was about chaotic and incomplete thinking (this also applies to the question about gears and ladders). A lot of the pieces are maps or diagrams of mental or psychological disjunction and disassociation. This isn’t really a conscious choice of direction, but it is a definite theme in the more recent work. The other thing that some of the letter pieces do is set up a “teasing” dynamic with the viewer. I wanted to hint at certain words or phrases and then undermine that momentum with a lack of completion or a change in direction or expression, mid word or thought. So, yes, I think that you hit the nail on the head.

There seems to be the touch of a child in a lot of your work… be it through the scribbled drawings or the cutouts from what seem like educational books. Is there some inspiration from your childhood or the ways in which a child perceives the world that you’re translating?

No I think that it is more about the expression. Children tend to be expressionists first, but it is often dismissed as poor mechanics or skill. Same goes for the art of the psychotic.

How do you feel about the state of contemporary art? Is it a time of vibrancy where more artists are living from their work or is it more of a struggle than in the past?

Art magazines are extremely depressing. Making a living from your work in no way serves as an indicator of quality or substance or achievement. The real struggle is the same – how to be creative without being imitative, how to avoid apathy, confusion, complacency or self sabotage. How can a person with profoundly limited resources create something that is meaningful, long lasting and maybe transcendent? If you are really going to do something important..make real art, how do you do it and how can you keep doing it over time with the hope that it might get better. If there is a “struggle” involved in being an artist, I think it is more about those issues; interior issues as opposed to the exterior endorsements or criticism.

Where do you go or what do you do for inspiration when you’re jonesin?

Motorcycle magazines. I like the design/art/culture mags like “DAMn” too. I usually just start moving my hands and putting stuff together and then I’m ok.

When you think ahead to the future, what are some things you’re looking forward to accomplishing?

I used to want to win a Macarthur fellowship really bad, but I quit thinking about those things at some point …I guess I want my work to get better. The future is never what you think it’s going to be.

interview lance letscher


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