Stephane Leonard (born 1979 in Berlin), lives and works in Berlin and Brandenburg. He
studied Philosophy and Art History at the Humboldt University of Berlin and Fine Arts with
an emphasis on Drawing, Film / Video and Sound in the classes of Prof. Paco Knöller (master
class) and Prof. Jean-François Guiton at the University of the Arts in Bremen.
Leonard is a cofounder of the Plastik Club collective in Bremen and of naivsuper, an artist collective,label and publishing house based in Berlin. Since 2014 he has been a guest lecturer at the department for Industrial Design of the University of Applied Sciences for Engineering and Economics Berlin, where he teaches drawings and sound art.
In 2007 Leonard won the Video Art Price of the City of Bremen. This was followed by other
awards at film festivals for his video works, residencies in Norway and Portugal, several exhibitions of his video and sound works, as well as drawings and paintings in
Germany and abroad. He received exhibition stipend from the city of Berlin and a studio grant from the State Brandenburg in 2018.
Since 1995, Leonard has been active as an artist. First, as a street artist and later as a painter, a drawing, sound and video artist.
In recent years, Leonard made a name for himself not only for his drawings but also as a director of internationally acclaimed music videos.
Born in East-Berlin in 1979 his father, an architect who got his education from the art school in Berlin Weißensee, introduced him to the Bauhaus school at an early age. The interdisciplinary works of the Bauhaus artists has left a huge impression. After high-school he went on to study philosophy and art-history and later fine arts at the University of the Arts in Bremen, where his professor Paco Knöller, a former student of the Joseph Beuys class and one of Germany’s most renowned drawings artists, encouraged him to go beyond just paper and canvas.
In 2002 besides studying drawing, painting and print-making, Stephane got his hands on a video camera and started making films and videos. Taking advantage of the music department of the University of the Arts in Bremen, he was also able to sign up for electronic music composition classes, which has led to numerous of his own sound compositions and publications. Since then Stephane has won the video art price of the city of Bremen in 2007, became a director of internationally acclaimed music videos, has performed and published his sound works all over the world and shown his drawings and paintings in New York, Oslo, Vienna, Istanbul, Bangkok, Riga, Hamburg, Berlin and Porto…
“In the past couple of years I am mostly focussed on large-scale paintings and drawings, translating small into big, zooming in and out, redefining the canvas and paper as an image carrier and object at the same time. Working large-scale can easily become purely gestural, creating empty lines and out of focus content. It is easy to get lost inside that working process and lose sight of the “authentic” momentum. To avoid that, I am experimenting with different techniques to enlarge those fragile little drawings – not to create a copy but to keep there inner strength. From upscale copying, to various printing techniques, to monotype where the process of drawing is being slowed down and obscured by the fact that I am not always exactly seeing what I am creating.
I am looking for ways to move over the canvas or paper in a state of mind right between being fully conscious and subconscious at the same time. I draw what comes out of me. When I see what I created it feeds back into my system and becomes part of the next work. By inserting an extra step in-between yourself and the final art piece, I open up my working process for unforeseeable interventions, surprises and new solutions. Sometimes I decide in the middle of the process to keep working on the back of a canvas, or I cut a canvas apart and combine it with another one. It is almost like working on the perfect puzzle, only that I have created every piece of that puzzle, too.
My lines outline or frame an area and thus define its shape and space. Objects and shapes appear either in development or in decay. These objects could be seen as different memory compartments contained by the drawing. Memories of lenghty observations like processes initiated by a combination of time, nature and humans as well as corrosion and erosion, dusty walls of the city, repaired facades, graffiti and broken concrete are the things that I cannot stop looking at.
My lines become seismographic traces of small channelled eruptions, they are tracks that I leave behind while contemplating human interventions into natural processes. In the process of drawing, objects and lines start overlapping and touching one another, creating different transparencies and new forms, as well as adding the value of time and depth to the seemingly flat images. When two lines cross each other, the past is meeting the presence for one brief moment. Freezing something in time by drawing it out on paper is also only a temporary state, a snapshot of a much larger movement. There is always a before and after and this might be the essence of what I am trying to capture – the realization that things are not only temporary but also in motion.
I am making most of my research visible within the works, putting it all out there for everyone to see – no secrets and no tricks. I usually use a very limited colour palette and prefer large untouched spaces. I work with the negative and the positive form that comes up on the paper, thinking of them as equally important. I sometimes use dripping colour over solid lines letting them dissolve or melt. When working with pre-printed images, I don’t just “overdraw”, I am thinking of my process as “inscribing”. I add what I feel is missing or cover up what I think is too much, thereby continue to work on an image that has once been frozen. There are no rules or limitations about what I can or want to do. I feel that everything I do is connected by the line and therefor part of an overall investigation. Switching genres and techniques doesn ́t mean to switch the concept behind it.”