Sylvain Levier: Finding a Balance

Very early, drawing became my favorite discipline. The fact that I am colorblind probably removed me from the painting as well as from the work of the color. After studying sculpture, the place this practice has taken in my life has become more and more important.

For years I worked the drawing in a very classic way, a simple pencil, a graphite stick. One of my first significant drawing work, Reier(1), dating from 2004, have been developed around my perception of the mineral landscapes of Brittany, northwest coast of France, where I am from. This work was analytic, descriptive and realistic. At the same time, I continued to lay the foundations for a more abstract work. I was permanently dissatisfied with the result.

However, there were often parts of my work that kept my attention, usually accidents, in other words, what I had not mastered, which I had not anticipated.

From then on, I decided to modify my working methods by causing accidents through the use of tools that constrain my gestures. I wanted to prevent myself from drawing in a certain way.

A feeling behind that, that the facility I had to draw would not allow me to get what I want. I therefore sought to restrain the action of the hand. This led me to simplify forms, it was a very important step.

I currently use metal blades, the drawing is obtained by notches. Depending on the action of the blade I get different depths of plot as well as volumes that light reveals. For other works, this same blade also enables me to deteriorate, to damage the pictorial surface, to work by abrasion.  I have just started a series of new works obtained with a metal tip. Graphite remains one of my favorite medium, its appearance evokes metal, and I like playing with aspects to create ambiguities.

The idea that the drawing could ultimately be the result of something other than the hand, like a machine, interests me.

Although my work looks very constructed, I usually work without sketches, I let things appear or not, I like to be surprised to a certain extent, observe the transformations. The way in which minimal interventions can modify our perception is very interesting to explore. I draw a lot but retain very few achievements. I think we see very quickly when a drawing works or not. One or two lines are sometimes enough to realize it.

Most of the time I work with a kind of tension, materialize unknown forms of the mind, sometimes just before they disappear, is very tiring and can rapidly become obsessive. I often feel the need to distance myself, in order to come back to the subject. Paradoxically this tension is also a source of energy.

The support (for me the paper) is also important, so much so that sometimes I feel that matter is self-sufficient. Thus, my interventions are generally reduced. I finally think that it is less a question of drawing than of finding a balance, a possible cohabitation between things.

Born in 1975, Sylvain Levier lives and works in Paris.