Stephane Leonard is a german artist, video director and musician.
Leonard was born in Berlin in 1979. From 2001 to 2002 he studied philosophy and art history at the Humboldt University in Berlin and from 2002 to 2007 Fine Arts with a focus on drawing, film / video and sound art in the classes of Prof. Paco KnĂ¶ller and Prof. Jean-FranĂ§ois Guiton at the University of the Arts in Bremen. From 2007 to 2008 Stephane Leonard was a honour student (MeisterschĂĽler) under Paco KnĂ¶ller.
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 for internationally acclaimed music videos.
Stephane LeonardÂ´s work is highly influenced by his direct surrounding and environment. He is a close observer and a detailed listener.
His main focus is the moment of progress or evolution, the inbetween state of an object, an idea, a thought or an emotion just before becoming defined. Sounds build up to a yet unfullfilled emotion, lines about to become a form carefully dapped onto a piece of paper leaning forward into recognition only to become even more obscured. ItÂ´s a sensitively balanced act of an artist on a thin wire only minutes away from a thunderstorm.
Sound, drawing and video are equally important and can be rather site specific. Especially the installations feed themselves from the places and situations they are presented in. Most of LeonardÂ´s audio source material are so called field recordings – documentations of places, noises or single tones removed from their original context to be transcribed into a collage of sounds, a modern composition.
In that sense Leonard consciously uses narrative elements like harmonies, words or recognisable sound and video footage to specifically contemplate about the codes of communication, the misguidance of signs and symbols, the expectations of the audience, questioning a collective memory and predefined interpretations. Within the drawing of a word, a fictional graphic score or an almost object evolves not knowing where to go to yet. Lines become lines again, withdrawing from themselves from fixed categories, returning to a state of unsavety, unfinishedness and soon to become. A sound can only safely be referred to being a sound while being open for interpretation. If necessary the tones assembled in a composition can take the listener by the hand, leading them through an imaginary soundscape, a maze of twists and turns only to guide them back to the sound itself.
It is an embryonic state of artistic expression that Leonard places his work in. Almost a method that comes from his curiosity in life and art and an inability to stand still paired up with a fear of repetition.
Stephane Leonard has studied drawing under Professor Paco KnĂ¶ller, a former student of the Joseph Beuys class. Beuys, KnĂ¶ller, Twombly, Nauman, Cage… are only some of the theoretic and aesthetic influences that can be found in his work.
Leonard was also a guest student at the video art class of Professor Jean-FranĂ§ois Guiton, as well as participating in various sound and electronic composition courses.
Leonard is a founding member of the naivsuper artist collective that publishes and promotes modern composers, adventurous music, art and books and the naivsuper Film collective which makes films, music videos, documentaries and video installations.
He is a member of various music ensembles like the Endliche Automaten (Laptoporchester Berlin) who he performs with as well as contributes compositions to, JuliJuni an improvisor trio with Michael Rieken and Ansgar Wilken and Leo Mars a folk duo with Marcel TĂĽrkowsky.
His also performs under his name Stephane Leonard and St. Leon or Saint Leon and the Grey.
His work has been shown in exhibitions in Berlin, New York, Hamburg, Bremen, Groningen, Neubrandenburg, Oslo, Bergen, Vienna, Zürich, Massachusetts, Bangkok, Riga, Istanbul and the Kirgisien National Museum for Fine Arts.
“In between spheric and dreamlike soundscapes up to the harsh cut up music concrete, pieces of field recordings taken from all over the globe emerge.
Stephane LeonardÂ´s music creates a unique atmosphere that immediantly draws the attention of the listener. Out of a self coded max-msp software, a microphone and a small selection of external sound sources small sensitive universes stream together. While listening they expand further into the realms of imagination and thus take precise looks at the nature of the world around us. With the perfectionists love to detail, Stephane’s compositions build bridges which hold for even the most lost of characters.”
(Lars Marstaller, 2007)