Lionel Estève (FR)

Lionel Estève - One (2017)
Disruption – Remapping Nature (2017)
Photography Gert Jan van Rooij

Lionel Estève - One (2017)

The art of Lionel Estève (b. Lyon, 1967, lives and works in Brussels) is playful, colourful and made using cheap everyday materials and simple techniques, but with the utmost patience and absolute perfection. Estève employs wire, straws, buttons, beads and paint, combining them to make bright sculptures and dancing mobiles that pay tribute to kinetic art, particularly the work of Alexander Calder. Estève’s murals featuring thousands of coloured sticky notes or sheets of gelatine bring to mind the Dutch Nul movement and Jan Schoonhoven’s reliefs, with their suggestion of movement within the flat plane.

Estève often uses materials that he finds in nature. He takes plants, which he dries and presses, and turns them into collages, which he then finishes with water paints. He also collects beautiful round smooth stones from rivers, which are then coated with pastel-coloured water paint to the same height that they were in the water, and arranged together in such a way that the gallery floor looks just like the riverbed. The artist creates extremely subtle casings for other stones, wrapping them in thin cotton, nylon or plastic thread in a fine geometric structure of triangles. The simple addition of coloured thread turns an ordinary river stone into an object of desire. This is the appeal of Estève’s oeuvre. By using simple materials and techniques with such virtuosity, he lends great aesthetic value to humble forms.

In his work for Disruption, the artist has taken this glorification of nature to the extreme. Building on recent work, in which he gilded leaves of plants and trees, ranging in size from small to huge, and then presented them on a gallery wall, he outlined part of the foliage of a tree with gold leaf. Like normal leaves, the gilded leaves continued to grow until they fell from the tree in autumn. Estève transformed the event of seeing the beauty of something so ordinary yet awe-inspiring into an amazing experience. Members of the public were free to pick up the fallen gilded leaves and take them home.