Laurent is a French artist who creates paintings that focus on deep, dark emotions  that we may not want to face.  His work is not for the faint of heart, but if you have a heart, you’ll definitely want to take a look and ask whether or not you see yourself in is work.  What inspires Laurent to create such things?  Here’s our cool chat …

“Are you implying that people only buy "pretty" pictures? These are not only pleasant things that attract people!  Would you invite me to do this interview if I painted, "pretty paintings”?  "Pretty" pictures are boring ...” 

MICHAEL: Bonjour Laurent!  Your work is very intriguing.  Are you painting skeletons?  Ghosts? Ugly creatures?  I think your work may be deeper than that.  What is your inspiration?

LAURENT: I think the collective thought creates lots of stereotypical references. You can see ghosts or creatures that you can assimilate to aliens. In fact, this is not it. My work focuses on humanity. Of course, I'm interested in this dark side of humanity - pain, disappointment, sadness and death.  I observe, I scan and I probe the most hidden feelings for them to surface.  My idea is to put the viewer in front of himself, his unspoken things, his banned things and his handicaps. 

My paintings question the mind. However, the figures I paint are just excuses (the medium). It pleases me to say that I paint emotions! I am inspired by my fellow people, me, you and by everything that society generates. Politics, war, history, science, communication are inexhaustible sources of inspiration.

MICHAEL: So the "creatures" that we're seeing are actually ourselves and our thoughts and emotions.  Looking at them, I feel a sense of loss, separation and loneliness.  Is this what you are painting?  Sadness and loneliness?

LAURENT: Yes, I paint the losses of others, myself, the loss and all of the feelings associated as loneliness, isolation, sadness. It's sometimes a very intimate emotion. I have my own story, you yours, and yet we are able to experience similar sensations.

MICHAEL: Why do you use the colors black, tan and gray so much?  What do they mean for you?

LAURENT: These colors add depth to the subject. I love the simplicity and nuance in tone. Black backgrounds have become very fast in my work. It is consistent with my characters. It forces the viewer to focus on the subject painted. It insulates and allows me to play with light reflections.

MICHAEL: Are you depressed?  Also, your paintings are not "pretty pictures." Don't you want to paint pleasant things so that more people may want to buy your work?

LAURENT: Hahaha! No, I'm fine thank you!  I’m with my ups and downs like everyone else!  It's a bit simplistic to attempt to define the character of an artist through his work!

Are you implying that people only buy "pretty" pictures? These are not only pleasant things that attract people! Would you invite me to do this interview if I painted "pretty paintings”? The world has changed! Of course, there will always be people to put beautiful bouquets of flowers or evanescent landscapes on their walls. I hope it calms them and makes them feel good in their country interior decoration. For my part, I think too many people are just too poor. "Pretty" pictures are boring. My clients are purchasing an item that has meaning and gives meaning to their interior decoration and their lives.

MICHAEL: Absolutely.  Where in France are you?  Are you near Paris? What's your life like there?  Do you paint every day?  Is the economy getting better in France?  Here in America, things are improving very slowly.  Many people still don't have jobs now in mid 2014.

LAURENT: I live in Bretagne, on the west coast, just a few steps from the sea. Bretagne is often called the end of the world. I paint regularly, almost every day and mostly at night. Apparently, the economic situation is changing faster today in America than in France or in Europe, but I'm not sure to be the right person to talk about these things!

MICHAEL: The "End of the World." Interesting.  How much of a role does your environment and your surroundings play in your work?  Are you inspired by where you live?

LAURENT: I don't think so. I've never been attached to a particular place. About my work, I don't believe that my environment plays an important role. My characters are meant to be universal. They live here or elsewhere; it doesn't matter. These are projections of the mind. They all live in my head and I can tell you they swarm, glued to each other to keep warm!

MICHAEL: What do you think about the art world and how it functions? Picasso and Rothko are dead and rich and continue to have sold out shows while living artists are virtually ignored by the public.  How can we help living artists? 

LAURENT: Simply highlight their work! In France, the system is somewhat ossified, shared between institutions, large galleries and some collectors. However, the art market is gradually being democratized. Independent organizations, associations and exhibition spaces exist everywhere and do a great job to showcase artists. Social networks and more generally, the web today offer an alternative to get to know the greatest number and have the opportunity to sell our works. The sharing system is revolutionary. Paradoxically, many people, fans of social networks are attached to the object that is the work of art. Some are willing to break their piggy bank to buy a painting or drawing and it is very respectable. It is for this reason that I refuse to sell photographic prints of my work. It is necessary to preserve the originality of the object, to develop, exhibit and defend it!

MICHAEL: What's your first memory of art?  When did you become an artist? Do you come from an artistic family?

LAURENT: I know that my mother has always had an artistic sensibility even if she was not an artist. I remember there were small monographs of artists at home when I was young and I was fascinated by the creations of Gustav Klimt, Max Ernst, Amedeo Modigliani, and by the great Italian Renaissance masters. 

After my high school diploma, I had no idea of ​​what I wanted to do later. So I went to study history of art. As I had no purpose, I thought that to study art and artists could occupy my time and be enjoyable. I completed my studies in art history for 10 years, until my PhD in 2002. My thesis was about architectural and industrial heritage. I spent several years of my life studying the history and architecture of tobacco and matches factories of the 18th to 20th centuries. 

This was quite strange, all this time, I felt a lot of fun to explore, analyze and describe the artistic work of others. It was not until several years after the need to express myself personally was felt.  One day, I started painting when I had no practical and technical training. Overnight, my life had completely changed. Everything I saw and looked at fed my own creations. I am a specialist in the history of art and at the same time a self-taught painter!

MICHAEL: Finally Laurent, Why do you paint?  What does art mean to you? Most people do not buy art or even visit galleries or museums.  So what's the point of art?  Art is not curing diseases or ending poverty.  Why should people care about art?

LAURENT: I could give you some big theories on the subject. Philosophical questions developed on the theme of creation and art are fascinating. However, I will keep it simple. In absolute terms, art has absolutely no interest. So why do I paint for hours or spend this money and time in a museum? The answer is in the question. It is precisely because art has no interest that it is interesting! Creation is a free act, limitless. Of course, art can become a commodity and have commercial value, but at the time of its creation, it is only an expression of sensitivity, whether pictorial, musical, literary or cinematic. Art has no more sense than life! It is just there to give pleasure to those who create or behold it!  

It offers small, orgasmic pleasures! It awakens, it opens the mind, it criticizes, it reduces, absurdities, it meets. Michael, why do you think I use macabre themes in my paintings? Why I try to put my finger on painful feelings? Why am I looking to generate my characters through difficult emotions? Why bother my work? Just because death is not the focus of my work! Quite the contrary! That's life that I paint! The emotions that I recreate are vital. They challenge people to face their own reality. Yes, it hurts, but when one is aware of the pain, suffering, and death end, I believe that we are fully alive!

MICHAEL: Wow, that's a great way to end our chat. Fantastic! Thanks Laurent. Best wishes.

LAURENT: Thank you so much Michael. I really enjoyed our chat.

Check out Laurent and his work at