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 Knöller and Prof. Jean-François Guiton at the University of the Arts in Bremen. From 2007 to 2008 Stephane Leonard was a honour student (Meisterschüler) under Paco Knöller.
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.
Stephane Leonard is an interdisciplinary artist from Berlin, Germany. In the past few years his focus has shifted from video- and sound-works back to mainly working in drawing and painting. The line has always been the starting point of his thinking and artistic practice. Experimenting with and through lines, is how Stephane is mapping the world and his experiences.
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 artist 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, also 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 right away. 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 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 (drawing through the back) 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, just to name a few.
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.”
Leonard is a founding member of the naivsuper artist collective that published and promoted modern composers, adventurous music, art and books and the naivsuper Film collective which made films, music videos, documentaries and video installations.
He is a member of various music ensembles like the Endliche Automaten (Laptoporchester Berlin) who he performed with as well as contributed compositions, JuliJuni an improvisor trio with Michael Rieken and Ansgar Wilken and Leo Mars a folk noise duo with Marcel Türkowsky.
His also performed under his name Stephane Leonard and St. Leon or Saint Leon and the Grey.