“Spiritual, sublime and intangible concepts.”
A reproduction of one of Kevin Ledo‘s luxurious paintings is landing in our subscribers mailboxes as we speak! Get to know the man behind the print a little better here. Like what you see? Subscribe by December 10 to get this print (a perfect time to take advantage of our Special Holiday offer?).
Hi Kevin! Who are you and what are you all about?
Hello Papirmasse! I’m an artist from and based out of Montreal, Canada. I studied Illustration and Design a long time ago, but now I’m just creating and making a living doing ‘fine’ art, murals and art installations. I’m mostly an oil painter and sometimes gilder, (in other words I work with gold leaf,) but also use acrylics and occasionally spray paint. I’ve been at it since 2005 and work with galleries in Montreal, Vancouver and Portland, OR.
A lot of your work combines religious iconography with an exploration of the female form. Can you elaborate on your history and what draws you to combine these somewhat disparate images?
I am very inspired by religious imagery, iconography and the power of spiritual symbolism. Also, I seem to be inexhaustibly drawn to the human form in my work, especially the female form. I find the female form endlessly beautiful, however I have to admit that I have been focusing on one type of female form, that of young and beautiful women. This began in my earlier work when I was working with images of female fashion models found in high-end fashion advertisements, and joined these together with religious Christian icon imagery. The idea was to both celebrate the power and beauty of the imagery and also to critique them; to critique them in the sense of how these seemingly unrelated institutions both use(d) prominent and persuasive imagery and push(ed) ideals all while giving the promise of something better.
Since this body of work I have continued in most of my creations to use much of the same visual language, (the beauty of women and religious icon elements such as gold leaf, symbolism, pose and expression,) but I went off on a little bit of a tangent with concept. In recent paintings I have more of a focus on intimate, contemplative moments, using references of women who exist in my life. I continue to explore female beauty, as well as meditative states, spiritual, sublime and intangible concepts. My drive in my recent work has come from attempting to tap into subconscious ideas, imagery and inspiration floating around in my head, mysticism, magic and perhaps my libido. I am fully aware of the omnipresent ideal of female beauty that is fed to us through our mass media, and I am at times weighing in at whether I am pushing these ideals or celebrating our culture’s idea of beauty. Either way, in a nutshell, this is what I do!
You spent a year travelling throughout Central and South America. What did you learn and how did your art change?
I was traveling for just a few months under a year and it was fantastic. Deciding to go on this trip was one of the best decisions I made for myself at that time. Before leaving for my trip, I was getting very discouraged with my career as an artist and started becoming negative towards art. The negativity was a red flag, and once acknowledging it I realized maybe it was time a good time to pack up and get a new life for a good chunk of time. I headed south. I learned some basic Spanish, ate great food, swam at beautiful beaches, surfed, met amazing people, and at times even feared for my life. I saw incredible sites in nature and ancient ruins, and ultimately I began a new chapter in my life with mural painting. Costa Rica and Brazil were good to me and some great opportunities popped up. I painted some large-scale murals with spray paint and/or with brush, and since then have continued on this path whenever the opportunity arises. It has brought me lots of inspiration and drive and there is a quality to doing this type of artwork that I really enjoy that is very different from creating in my studio.
You have been a self-supporting artist for many years. Any words of wisdom to young artists?
Well we all know it’s not an easy path, and I’m not sure what the best advice is, but I can say a few things. You need to know that this is what you will do with your life, one way or another, and if you have that, then you’ll naturally stick to it. I believe doing what comes from your heart and the deep corners of your mind is most interesting and rewarding. (While I’m not sure if that’s a recipe for financial success, real success for me is actually being able to do what I love and then keep doing it.) There are a million ways to do and succeed at art; unfortunately none of them are obvious. I’ve created a three ‘P’ mantra over the years: Persistence, Perseverance and Patience. It’s a slow process to get anywhere, and doing other work on the side to pay the bills is the way to go until making art takes over your life. Oh, and make friends, love people in a genuine way and that love will come back to you.
Who or what are your biggest sources of inspiration?
I don’t think any one person in particular, but I’d say the art nouveau movement and especially the artist, Mucha, have had a strong influence on me when I first started out. Now my biggest inspiration is music. Also, beauty and colour in every day life inspire me. Symbols and imagery surrounding strong religious or spiritual beliefs is always an inspiration too. I love travel and meeting people. New experiences are not always inspirational, but they at least maintain a healthy and creative mind.
And finally – what is on your horizon for the next year?
I’m working on some new work that has been floating around in my head since my trip to Latin America. Expect some explorations in colour. Keep up with my work and developments through Instagram and my monthly newsletter.
Kevin Ledo is our December 2013 artist.
This is a taste of what’s to come when Papirmass releases his print at the beginning of the month.
Papirmass is an affordable art subscription that delivers 12 prints a year
with art on one side and writing on the other.
$69 in North America, $129 Internationally.