European imagination and American space in the work of Thierry Lefort - by Frédéric Andreu, September 10, 2023
Grimm's tales often describe forests and paths. It even happens that a particular forest or path becomes the scene of perilous crossings where child heroes, dreamy Little Thumb, Red Riding Hood or another Cinderella, compete in adventures. Can we establish a comparison between certain fairy tales from our childhood, between the woods that are both wonderful and disturbing that they contain, and the paintings of Thierry Lefort?
Everything is based on the spiritual anxiety that we feel when crossing such works. Let us listen for a moment to the story of our inner experience of the forest: the heart beats wildly; a few low branches across the path even end up tearing the coat of the frightened and fleeing hero... At this late hour, the shadows of the trees lengthen and lengthen again, just like in Thierry Lefort's paintings! The forest is becoming one of the symbols of our deep psyche... Instead of getting lost along multiple paths in the outer forest, let's instead follow the adage of Georges Dumézil: "Deep into the forest of yourself and you will find the gods”…
Let us now look more closely at the painter's paintings and ask ourselves what cultural universe do they convey, if not, perhaps, this European imagination rooted in the fairy tales of our most distant folklore? In any case, the striking cast shadows that we observe in Lefort's paintings impress with a narrative power no less captivating than fairy tales. The comments left by the public on the exhibition's Guestbook are sufficiently explicit regarding the painted Americas of Thierry Lefort. The public, won over and carried away by so many wonderful motifs, expresses itself in terms not very different from the reactions of our children who have just read fairy tales, the feeling of finding themselves in a modernized version of a Cinderella tale or the Little Thumb?
However, Thierry Lefort's paintings evoke places and motifs totally foreign to the European universe. They exclusively represent atmospheres of America's wide open spaces. These paintings captivate us and in doing so, they remind us that art has the capacity to mobilize an imagination inscribed in the individual and collective being. This sacred mission of art, totally obscured by post-modernity, more inclined to favor ideology and so-called societal values, nevertheless remains the intact criterion of art.
In short, there is much fantasy in the work of Thierry Lefort, a typically European fantasy, even if his paintings illustrate realities from another continent. Indeed, Thierry Lefort - like Max Ernst in his time - paints the emblematic spaces of the American Far West that he has traveled for years. We will recognize the wide open spaces of the Western of our childhood, but also those of the RoadMovies of our adolescence. He also captures the poetry wonderfully. However, these journeys of discovery across the United States of America do not make Thierry Lefort an American; Thierry Lefort is French, European and that is why he expresses himself by drawing on the European cultural substrate. What emerges is a personal, singular and promising work.
A poet, and not the least, Laurent Desvous-Dyrek, sends us a poem inspired by the world of Thierry Lefort. We reproduce it below. We could not better express the colors, the inks, and the mysteries of this pictorial art that is both rooted and personal...