the artist who paints works in life size

The country artist travels around the world with his monumental works. We found him in full creation in Belfast.

For a long time, Guillaume Legros did not set foot in a museum. “And then one day I was in London with my ex, I do not know how, but we went through the doors to the National Gallery. And I saw the light. The light, in this case, is Turner’s canvases dazzling him. For the 16-year-old Belfortain, this encounter with painting will change the prism of his life. “I have always been someone who hangs on who wants to see things through. So I started reading about painting. Until then, I had primarily done spray graffiti, but without actual efforts. Guillaume, who signs his graffiti under the name Saype, experiments: paint, glass, plexiglass, everything is good to “try to invent. I quickly realized that in order to be noticed in art one had to innovate, above all not to repeat what the public has already seen. ”But the young man, well in all respects, a surfer, also listens to his parents, who advise him to take a real job.“ I became a nurse. After receiving my diploma, I found a job in Switzerland, in Moustiers. It was better paid than in France and I could accumulate the hours. I worked ten days non-stop, then I had two free weeks to devote myself to my projects. »

Everything I do is temporary. Five days after installation, nature takes over

The click comes by thinking about how to get people to talk about him. “Painting large formats on the grass, no one did. There was a big field next to my parents where I was practicing. And I understood that I could express myself and that it’s together we can make things happen. to happen “beyond the barriers” [“Beyond Walls”]. Saype therefore imagines monumental works that can only be seen from the sky and that he paints himself using natural pigments. “Everything I do is temporary. Five days after installation, nature takes over. It’s interesting in our world to say to oneself that one should quickly go out and see a work as it is about to disappear.”

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Guillaume Legro’s alias Saype works with biodegradable pigments based on coal and chalk.

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Smart, Saype uses social networking as a platform. His pictures of shaking hands (from the “Beyond Walls” series), painted in Champ-de-Mars, Benin or South Africa, fill in a few days, a few hours, Instagrammeres accounts and the pages of local dailies. “I finance everything myself through the sale of serigraphs or prints, which I supervise. From design to completion, each installation takes him almost two years. “It’s a real job, yes, which has different aspects. I sometimes feel a bit of a business leader … “

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We need a drone to shoot the pictures of the finished work. Not always easy!

In Belfast, Saype came by boat with his three best friends, who became his collaborators. For five days, the quartet had to play with the rain and the wind to try to stick to their work schedule. “The paint dries fairly quickly on grass and is biodegradable. But if it rains before the drying phase, everything is ruined. On the day of the opening of Stormont Palace, the Parliament of Northern Ireland, deputies marveled at the political turn of the project. Is it an outstretched hand to England? To Ireland? “That’s not my point,” smiles Saype. But if these questions arise, that’s it. For each work, the artist first takes a photo in the studio, which he places virtually on the spot where he is to paint. “From there, we calculate everything that is important to us: materials, pigments … And then a large part of our job consists of getting the authorizations. For example, we need a drone to take pictures of the finished work. It’s not always easy. “So this moment in New York, at the UN headquarters, where the FBI asked them to make an emergency landing on their ‘flying object’, which allegedly did not have the necessary permits and triggered a diplomatic riot. “But it is also the kind of challenges that attract me. I have to convince people. »

Also read. JR transports the Grand Canyon under the Eiffel Tower

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What happens after this ad

Clearly, his work is regularly compared to JR’s. He gets annoyed. “He is a photographer and sticks to walls. Me, I’m a painter, and I paint on the grass. Asked about the significance of his approach, Saype smiles: “Helpful. When I was contacted by SOS Méditerranée in 2018 to give them a hand, the work I envisioned around Lake Geneva put a debate in Switzerland, which resulted in a vote. It did not work out, but suddenly Italy became involved … ”

From the height of his 33 years, Saype knows that the world of contemporary art examines him with strangeness. “It’s not my culture, but it interests me. I see collectors looking at me with interest … ”Recently, in Venice, the directors of the Guggenheim Museums (Bilbao, Venice, New York) came to discover his production on the sidelines of the Biennale. Nice media stunt for him, real interest from the institutions? The future will show. But for his future projects, the young man has teamed up with Live Nation France. “They are concert producers. So our camaraderie is new. They will help me highlight my work, to develop collaborations during individual events. Tomorrow, the beach in Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro is waiting for him, just like Central Park. “I was quite impressed by Christo, who also financed on his own. He struggled to showcase his work in iconic locations around the world. Saype is only at the beginning of his own journey …

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