Q&A interview with Parisian contemporary artist Le Sonneur

Le Sonneur is a contemporary artist working in Paris, France. He spoke to us about how the city and its inhabitants influence his art and shares his experiences of exhibiting his work globally.

Bonjour Le Sonneur,

Thank you for taking the time to speak with us today, we are excited to take a behind the scenes look into your creative practice and learn more about your influences, artistic style and motivations. We're looking forward to hearing more about your work featured in our upcoming publication, Curatorial Volume. 1, Leaders in Contemporary Art. 

How did your relationship with art begin, and did you study any professional qualifications prior to becoming a full-time artist?

I am a self-taught artist even though I did creative studies. I am passionate about creation in general, art, photography, literature and poetry but also human sciences. I like the art and relationships that unite human beings. I started studying the history of design before starting my architecture studies. From history of design, I liked the attention given to the individual, the fact that small things can produce great effects, great emotions. In architecture, I loved the city in its immensity, its mysteries, the sum of individuals and personal stories that compose it. My artistic activity was born at the crossroads of all these influences, quite naturally, as a practice bringing together the research topics that fascinate and inspire me.

  © Le Sonneur

 © Le Sonneur

Your creative style mixes street art, contemporary art and poetry. You also employ different artistic techniques such as installation, photography, drawing, stencil, video and sculpture in your body of work. We are curious to learn how you work across multiple media. Do you have a preferred medium for expressing certain ideas?

I like both ideas and material. Concrete and abstract things. I like literature and art. The writer Georges Pérec inspires me a lot. I also like doing, experimenting with the material, touching, shaping, working the material like a craftsman. For me the medium is a secondary subject because my main goal is to tell stories. Depending on the stories, I choose the most suitable medium, without complex. I use drawing, painting, photography, video, sculpture, paper or metal, as an autodidact, as a curious guy, as an experimenter.

Your work comments on themes of relationships, love, sex and intimacy and you live and work in Paris, France, which for many is one of the most romantic cities in the world. Paris itself is part of many of your pieces, whether that be a projection onto a wall, a carefully placed key or even an engraved metal plate fixed onto a building. How does the city inspire your work?

I am a city dweller. I like big cities. I like to walk the cities and get lost in them. To observe, to marvel. My work is based on the city, but even more so on these inhabitants. I like the relationships they maintain, which unite them. These are the characters in the creative novel I'm writing with my artistic work. Their stories and lives are the ones I tell, the I imagine and I fantasise. They are often poetic stories, some stories about anonymity, loneliness, intimacy, freedom and alienation, love stories, happy stories or darker and sometimes tortuous. These stories, I suggest them by my works, I let them guess or imagine. I just say enough to suggest them and allow everyone to imagine them in his own way, often in a very personal and different way. These are "open works" like explained by Umberto Eco, some works which will be different for everyone.

  © Le Sonneur

 © Le Sonneur

You have been exhibiting your works internationally since 2015, and your pieces can be seen in the streets and galleries in your native country of France, as well as Australia, Japan, Germany and Dubai. What advice would you give to young artists who would like to get their work in galleries?

It would be difficult to give advice because I often do things with instinct. I experiment a lot. I inspire myself well beyond the boundaries of art, regardless of currents, styles, boxes and codes. Perhaps one possible way would be to work freely to be to build your own singularity and to design your own way. I work in my studio, I create, I imagine, I test, I try to find a way that I like. That's what makes me vibrate.

I also share my creations on social networks that give a great opportunity for artists today to show their work to collectors and to gallery owners. Many amateur artists and galleries have discovered me via my Instagram account  which has given me great opportunities all over the world. Lucky me !

  © Le Sonneur

 © Le Sonneur

You place your artwork in public areas inviting passers by to interact with your work, for example by picking up a key or calling a telephone number. What messages are you trying to convey to your audience through your art?

With my works in the street or in galleries, I try to create the emotion with little things. I use a simple lock, an abandoned key, a postcard, a doorbell, a metal plaque or a door that opens ... So many little things that can say a lot about our relationships to others, our intimate stories, our little secrets. So many little things that let us imagine so many singular stories. I like to reveal the poetry of the banal, by using or by diverting the simplest and insignificant things or moments of everyday life. I like to bring emotion to where you are not expecting, I like to enchant the city and reveal its romantic dimension, to talk about those who live there, their loneliness, their alienation, their freedom, their emotions.

  © Le Sonneur

 © Le Sonneur

Could you share the names of some artists whose work you are enjoying at the moment?

Everyday life and people inspire me immensely, art too, in all its forms, beyond the classical boundaries of contemporary art. I am learning so much from literature to music.

At the moment, I travel a lot and in my bag, I slipped my last desires of discoveries. First of all, Antoine Laurain's latest novel, "Millésime 54", a tale-like novel with some great descriptions of Paris in 1954, its streets and its happy and optimistic agitation, a fantasised Paris where you will meet Salvador Dali, Jean-Luc Godard or Jean Gabin.

I have also put in my bag another novel, between light and shade, by Virginie Despentes, the first volume of her "Vernon Subutex" trilogy that I want to read for months without finding time for it. I have also taken a book written in 1960 by Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier, "The Morning of the Magicians" which tells use some stories between reality, science, imagination and alchemy, maybe because I'm currently working on metal in my studio...

As for the soundtrack of my travels, I also slipped in my Spotify the discography of Pamela Hute, a French rocking girl that I just discovered. I like her effective and inspiring rock songs, with a very chic identity.

You’ve exhibited around the world, won numerous awards and had your work featured in many publications. That’s very impressive! What is your career highlight so far?

I know I'm very lucky, I say it to myself every day! Every exhibition, every interview, every word from a visitor or a collector, every comment on social networks touches me. I rejoice every day with the smallest thing, always with great emotion. But maybe my last experience in Japan touched me in a particular way. It was an incredible chance to see my works exhibited in an amazing medieval Nagoya house. A magical experience, and symbolically very strong!

© Le Sonneur

What for you is the hardest and the most rewarding parts of being an artist?

The beautiful moments are many when you're passionate! We have the chance to do a fun job with so much happy surprises! But the most moving moment is probably when the visitor of an exhibition tells you about the emotion he felt in front of your work! Or when a collector hangs one of your works at home and makes you a place in his privacy, when he welcomes a little of you in his life. Hard times, I would not say there are any. But I admit that the dismantling of an exhibition always causes me a little sadness, a touch of nostalgia when turning the page ... An emotion that makes you want to work quickly at the next exhibition!

Can you tell us about your upcoming projects, and what we can look forward to seeing from you next?

At the moment, I am preparing an exhibition and installation in Paris, in a hotel in the Champs Elysees district. I am also working on a street photography exhibition. As usual, I have new experiments in progress too, one of them in particular with a French artist, with whom we are working on his next clip based on my videos projected in the street. I am also working on new materials and mediums right now, using especially metals. Coming soon!

Thank you very much for answering our questions, Le Sonneur! We're looking forward to seeing your new work. 

© Le Sonneur