Artist Leo Caillard toys with our relationship with time. Through a blend of different periods and anachronism, he prompts us to reflect on the present in relation to our past.
Inspired by science and the concerns of our contemporary society, he invites us to take a fresh look at our era, open to history, in order to rethink our future.
Leo Caillard was born in Paris, France in 1985. He belongs to this new generation of artists associated with the significant changes that have been taking place since the 2000s with the dawn of the digital age and the new concerns of societies.
A proponent of new technologies and science, his interests lay in exploring time and quantum physics, eventually leaving the world of numbers and expressing his investigations through a career in art. Graduating from École des Gobelins in 2008, he continued studying the history of art and practiced photography while carrying out research in the realm of 3D and new media.
“My eyes have always sought to observe the world to uncover its meaning and codes. I thought that a methodical understanding through science would provide the answers but the artistic and conceptual aspect prevailed in the end. I try to show what we think we know differently, so as to shake-up our convictions and establish a dialogue between periods. We are at a crossroads of sweeping changes requiring us to look back at our past history.”
“2,000 years separates us from our Greco-Roman roots. In respect of a broader time, unrelated to our daily relationship with the instantaneous and our own lifetime, it’s ultimately negligible. Questions concerning the past, myths and epics are merely metaphors for the great concerns of our time. I strive to bring all this to the fore to enable us to better apprehend our world.”
In the 2010s he began to produce his first works to gain recognition in the art world, an initial series of images, ‘Art Game’ raising the question of digital’s place among classical art in museums. His series ‘Hipsters in Stone’ followed rapidly bringing great visibility from 2012 onwards. Through the gesture of dressing statuary in the Louvre, that may perhaps at first seem merely humorous, Leo Caillard raises the question of our social codes and our own representation as individuals.
“My work is usually organised into series. It’s important for me to clearly define and consider in advance the meaning of a series before producing it. For the series ‘Hipsters in Stone’ the idea was to dress statuary in the Louvre with very casual clothes, characteristic of our urban everyday lives. The ‘hipster’ trend with long beards, long hair, worshipping the body through sport, all this resembles Greco-Roman characteristics found in statuary. Suddenly, through clothes, our perspective changes dramatically and we cannot fail to see these statues in another light, like individuals today, leading back to our own entry in global history.”
Since 2013, Leo Caillard has produced many sculptures in the same spirit of dialogue across time. He expanded the concept of marble and bronze works wearing clothes through the aesthetics of the classic bust modified by adding contemporary accessories. The ‘Hipsters in Bronze’ series conveys these creations that have quickly earned a place within private collections and exhibitions.
Since 2015, Leo Caillard has been working on new creations based on light interacting with stone. His meticulous and scientific hallmark is exposed in poetic and subtle works where the conceptual creation seeks to emphasise the dialogue between solid matter and abstract matter: solid and hollow, tangible and quantum.
As his work gains in definition each year, there are strong parallels with contemporary artists such as Damien Hirst and his recent exhibition at the Venice Biennale, Koons and his Gazing Balls, as well as Olafur Eliasson with his recent luminous creations.
In response to the question regarding which artistic movement Leo Caillard belongs to, he replies creatively that he is part of a new and ultra-contemporary movement.
“I’m often asked if I consider myself part of a well-known 21st century art movement, if I am ‘post-modernism’, inspired by ‘Pop Art’ or connected to ‘street art’. I think that these approaches belong to the 1990s-2010s and no longer really represent contemporary art today.”
“Recently there has been a radical return to the past, a sort of ‘neo-Renaissance’ where artists, intellectuals of all persuasions, seek to draw upon classical cultures to regain strong roots with a new way of thinking, contrary to a linear temporal approach on account of the fact that science and technology cause us to rethink history as a circular, interconnected, almost metaphysical totality.”
“I started to explore the topic of antiquity in art in 2010. I have great pleasure in seeing that this discourse brings big names in contemporary art in its wake with major exhibitions like Hirst at the Venice Biennale or Koons with his Gazing Balls. The world that we know is changing and consumer society such as we are experiencing today, based on the 20th century hyper-growth model, will represent the distant past in future decades. For this reason, in order to imagine a new society, richer in meaning and beauty, it is essential to look to our Greco-Roman roots for new inspiration. This artistic movement of which I am a fully-fledged member might be ‘neoclassicism’ and I think that it has not finished developing its dialogue between periods to lay the foundations for a better future.”