Sébastien Le Guen searched a long time for the right training. From the experimental Lycée de Sevres to the Ecole Nationale Supérieur d’Architecture, in order to follow in his father’s footstep, but immediately dropped because he found he would rather paint in the architectural studios. He tried the Beaux Arts school of Cergy-Pontoise, but that did not feel right either. Finally, he enrolled at La Villa d’Arçon (Nice), a contemporary art university, where during five years of training, he met and worked with such artists as Paul McCarthy and Felice Varini. Graduating in 1996, he has since deepened his research from Paris to New York, finding inspirations in both urban cultures.
Letterism and collage
His first works, exhibited in 1991, situate him in the linage of the lettriste Isodore Isou. He reproduces bar menus with their yellowed pages, collages of big brands publicity, and in place of orders, traces a few words in a quick writing: often a poem in the shape of a “cadavre exquis”, in the Dada spirit. These works are often improvised with his artist friend Matthieu Mahé. Matthieu’s father, Gilles Mahé is a leading influence for Le Guen.
Le Guen’s long love story with the US started in 1992, in the New York studio of Douglas Kolk. American artists inspire Le Guen with their visual rather than conceptual approach, and so does the street scene. He spray paints his letterisms and collages, stencils over them, and adds fluorescent paint, ink, or pieces of subway publicity posters, all techniques borrowed from the “Bad Painting” movement to which Jean-Michel Basquiat belonged. Although his paintings have a punk spirit, they are inhabited by dreamers with stars in their eyes, who walk with their heads upside down.
(Born in 1971)
A video self-portrait as a bearded Dadaist, and the painting of a man digging his grave, with heavy medicines in the background, are part of the exhibition on the theme of psychological depression. For the exhibition Le Monde Pansé (The banded world) inspired by the invasion of Iraq, Le Guen is awarded the “Prix de la Villa Médicis Hors les Murs”. The hospital environment, medicines, death, and addictions are all reoccurring themes in Le Guen works. He says that it is a way to pay homage to his grandfather, an undertaker; to his father, an architect who finished his days in an asylum; and to exorcise his own excesses.
In Paris, Le Guen continues his work on subway posters, and newspapers’ cutouts. Through advertisements and the fashion world, Le Guen hunts the iconography of mass culture. For a while, he was even inspired by American comics, Spiderman, Sponge Bob, Donald Duck. The American flag, dollar bills, Ray Ban, and bar code are some popular culture symbol he deviates in order to create his own world between trash culture and surrealism. In that search he is close to the deceased Martin Kippenberger, the last “Punk” of Contemporary art.
Human landscape or eroticism
In filigree of his colored accumulation of motifs, technique, and matter, a portrait often appears. To these fragments of faces recomposed, the feminine silhouette, in multiple positioning, inhabits his works. He offers a second chance, infusing new life into them. Between figuration and abstraction, Le Guen works on the human body and questions desire itself. From latex suits and super heroes to truck drivers naked girls posters, he XXXXX erotism, To his intense paintings and his multi-textured landscapes, he opposes, lately, a series of compositions on black background that reaches for XXX
2014: “Urb Humanity Forms", Aristoi Gallery, Rochefort
2012 “Paysages humains”, Galerie Addict, Paris
"Super Héros shooting star", Galerie Incognito, Paris
2011: “Drip”, La Blanchisserie, Paris
"Sébastien Le Guen paintings”, Galerie Maw, Paris
« Bad Painting”, exposition collective, Galerie 208 ChichePortiche, Paris
2010 : “I love America”, exposition collective, Studio 55, Paris
2009 : « Fragments choisis », Galerie Nathalie Gaillard, Paris
“Constitution Diary Lost, Galerie, Paris
SEBASTIEN LE GUEN'S BIOGRAPHY
“The artist must always have an eye fixed on reality,
and the other one closed on the interior world.”