Jean Leclercqz Kelza is an artist who initially taught French in Louisiana before starting his career as a graphics designer in Germany at a European astronomical observatory. Jean has since gone on to cross all of the continents while carrying out his activities in the graphics industry. Today he continues his work in Brussels, mainly within a European framework, and expresses his creativity through his graphical communication company “Altitude design”. His travels and his professional activities have induced themes such as altitude, space and aviation, which are now an inherent part of his artwork.
Jean is known for his “flying machine” depictions, the first of which appeared somewhat by accident when he was designing a logo for a European aerial navigation program. Since then, hundreds of Flyingmachines, Flying people, various unique compositions, each one crazier than the last, have seen the light of day. Jean enjoys letting his imagination run free and through his works colors and bird-like forms, the poetic contraptions they convey are in symbiosis with gardens, landscapes and architecture. Jean’s sources of inspiration are diverse. Tribal art, one of his other passions, shines through in his work, with references to masks sculptures in particular. Elements of primal art from distant regions also abound and constitute as many invitations to discover the diversity of cultures worldwide.
“When I was a child I loved to play with my kite at the seaside and also simply because it does me good to move with my flying visuals in a space free of all constraints, weight and perspective and far from the torment of today’s world, which whirls in all directions with often extraordinary violence,” Jean said in a recent artist statement. “Primitive art has always fascinated me and in one way or another has always influenced me, consciously or unconsciously. If flying makes me feel good, calms me, I imagine that my visual works also transmit a form of happiness, fulfilment or simply life in a playful form. Primitive art and the lives of people who lived in harmony with nature in quasi self-sufficiency have always fascinated me. “
At the end of the 80s and during the 90s, Jean was involved in the development of the first graphics computers. Working in the graphics industry allowed him to travel all over the world and experience a wide variety of cultures. Artistically, a trip to Haiti and Mexico had a big effect on him. There he rediscovered some of his imaginary roots and childhood voice which included an interest in surrealism, colours and a special light that he later found in Africa. Today Jean divides his life between Belgium where he works at his graphics creation and production company Altitude Design and Africa. Recently, Jean spoke to the Examiner about his experiences working as an artist:
Meagan Meehan (M.M.): How and when did you decide to become an artist?
Jean Leclercqz Kelza (J.L.K.): I think I never decided to become an artist. To be an artist is related to a behavior of curiosity and creativity. It is not only related to the work your produce. You can draw and paint and still not be an artist. I work in different fields, I was a French teacher in Louisiana, I worked in sales and marketing in the industry of new graphic technologies, I worked as graphic designer for the European Astronomy Institute. I am the founder of Altitude Design, a graphic company based in Brussels and working mainly for European Federations. In all those activities, my creativity was intensity involve and use my two brains, left and right; creativity and project management, organization. Since 2007, thanks to the new graphic technologies my personal artistic work evolved quickly. In fact, the first flying machine appeared by accident!
M.M.: Growing up, which artists and styles interested you?
J.L.K.: I was always interested in children’s drawings which I believe have a unique sense of creativity in composition, style and colors without any constraints. Having been a collector for 15 years, I am also interested in Tribal Art from Africa, masks, sculptures and their unique way of representing people often linked to nature. I am also interested in the art and the way of life of the cultures in the first civilizations of the continents–particularly in Africa and South and North American Indian culture.
M.M.: How would you describe your work and what inspires it?
J.L.K.: My work is I think most of the time visual surrealism poetry. My creativity is unlimited and based only on Flying Machines, flying objects and flying people. I can make a flying object out of everything. It gives me a lot of freedom. I evolve in a world without constraints and gravity. My drawings are always done by hand on large piece of paper directly with an ink pen. I scan the drawing in very high resolution and all the coloring and compositions are done by computer. Flying machines, objects and people can navigate in different backgrounds and environments. It means that I can easily reproduce single edition of composition at any size on high resolution photographic paper under plexi.
M.M.: How did you go about getting your work shown publicly?
J.L.K.: I have done several exhibitions in Belgium. The largest one which was also an event which was an exhibition in the large hall of the Aviation Museum in Brussels with a dozen reproduction of more than 300 feet. A book “Crazy Flying Machines” was published on this occasion.
M.M.: Do you have a favorite piece? If so, which one and why?
J.L.K.: I have many favorite pieces but probably the first one which was born by accident. It looks more like a flying saucer and it’s one of the last ones with flying people.
M.M.: How did you get involved with the Gateway Art Center?
J.L.K.: I exhibited my work at Art Expo New York in April 2015 which was a successful experience. I met Noah Perlis who invite me to exhibit my work in the new large renovated galleries of Gateway Art Center in the Center of Manhattan near Times Square.
M.M.: Are there any mediums and/or styles that you haven’t worked with yet but hope to soon?
J.L.K.: I have recently done three dimensional Flying Machines based on African masks which are modified and painted with my color pallet. Many people invite me to consider producing my crazy Flying Machines in three dimensions. I think the new printing technologies in three dimensions will allow me to do that in a near future. I would like to find a partner to commercialize these 3D objects. I am still make acrylic paintings with Flyingmachines and people.
M.M.: To date, what has been the most rewarding experience involving being an artist?
J.L.K.: I think the most rewarding is to find my own way, my unique space of freedom; to design visuals which make me happy and I hope people enjoy life better with my visuals.
M.M.: What advice would you give to someone who is aspiring to become an artist?
J.L.K.: Try to find a common thread in its creativity and become and feel free above any technical constraints.
M.M.: Are there any upcoming projects and/or events that you would like to mention?
J.L.K.: As I said I would like to commercialize 3D objects from my Crazy Flying Machines. My work will be represented in New York by Gateway Art Center beginning February 1 and by my own company Altitude Design in Brussels and recently by Arteams in Europe. You can buy Flying Machines, Flying people as follows:
- Original acrylic paintings on canvas
- The digital works are realized from original drawings done by hand on paper, the coloring is done on the computer. There are several options for purchasing a digital work
- Single edition; high resolution photographic print under plexi sold with or without the original drawing and high definition computer file with which the work was reproduced. In the future even with new technologies, the work can be reproduced solely for private and no
- commercial use. The format can vary between +/-17’’x11’’and +/-80’’x 60’’
- Limited photographic prints (5) high definition under plexi. The format can vary between +/-17’’x11’’and +/-80’’x 60’’
- Prints on canvas or vinyl (no size limitation up to 300ft (see at the Aviation Museum In Brussels) for decoration purposes.
- Laser prints on paper in format 16’’x 11’’ Unlimited prints.
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To learn more about Jean Leclercqz visit his art website and his company website.