Artists have always sought to represent themselves, but it was only at the beginning of the Renaissance in Europe, in the middle of the 15th century, that they placed their own image in the very heart of many of their works. At the very beginning of this journey, an awareness of self which is clarified by the assertion of artist’s power, appears. The self-portrait then becomes an essential element in various works of art, which brings an existential anxiety, doubt and the quest for identity of the artist in subject to light. Self-portrait is first and foremost the expression of an intimate knowledge. While each artist has his/her own goal and approach of creating self-portraits they all have something in common: a self-awareness that leads to an obsession.
Frédéric Léglise is obsessed with two subjects: women and himself. His self-portraits are an exploration of “under-represented” side of the artist, what he calls “his shadow side”. The starting point of these self-portraits was in 2001, while he was about to start a painting he noticed his shadow on the white canvas ; once he was repeatedly and constantly confronted with these silhouettes, he decided to draw and paint them as a series entitled “Self-Portraits of My Shadows”.
Leglise’s self-portraits go beyond an obsession and become a realisation of the artist’s existence in his paintings of female models. What began as a simple monochrome drawing has changed tremendously during the last 18 years and has been presented in different techniques, sizes and approaches. Some drawn on the pages of books on impressionists masters and their look on female models, Frédéric Léglise’s self-portraits are now a bridge between the artist’s spirit and the look he shares with his models.
While painting several eyes on his self-portraits, Léglise evokes the idea that the painter does not paint what he sees but that he sees. The resulting image is less concerned with the physical likeness of the artist rather than the open display of his raw and internal emotions. Le Regard or Gaze in Léglise’s self-portraits is not something someone has or use; it is rather the relationship in which someone enters. This “Me” and this “Look” that expresses itself through these works seeks to enlighten the artist’s path for its viewer.
This exhibition aims to present the variety of artist’s self-portraits made during the last 18 years While launching the limited edition portfolio “Self-Portraits of My Shadows” published by Rezvan Projects. The restatements that Frederic Leglise has followed these past years has been a way of underlining his personal presence even when he is not the subject of the painting and for that reason his self-portraits have been an ideal raw material for a limited edition portfolio.
This exhibition is an effort to make the public aware of another aspect of the artist’s work in order to show that these self-portraits are not opposed to his other paintings, but that they are an extension of his study of the female portrait, painted as a form of documentation of the artist’s path to what he thinks, how he thinks and what he creates.