Surely if you‘ve been to France, you have bumped into his work. Interviewing the master of pastes, French street artist, Fred Le Chevalier.
For drawing, my name is “Fred Le Chevalier” (Editor’s note“Fred The Knight”) I am drawing from around 9 years. What I call “drawing” is use crayons and paper as when I was a child (laughs) and I do collage/wheat pasting in the street for 5 years.
– where does your tag name come from?
I use to babysit a little boy, the son of friends and I taught him to give stupid names to his family members; and I gave myself a prestigious and flashy name (laughs), to contrast. As I read many novels of swashbuckling, I chose “Fred Le Chevalier”, and adults should call me that if not, the little boy would not understand who we were talking about. When it came the time to choose a nickname for my Myspace account, I took Fred Le Chevalier.
-How do you define yourself? Artist? Street artist? Anything else?
I don’t like definitions; I feel that a definition means you have to go through mandatory checkpoints or a “milieu”. “Artist” is a word I do not use, I have a culture that comes from punk-rock, where there was a refusal of the hierarchy, there was the idea that you could make music without being a musician, so the word “Artist” gene me a little because it implies hierarchy or possible claims side. I think you do not necessarily need any technical skills to draw or paint, sing or write, so I draw and I stick my drawings, it seems the best match to my historical approach. I like the word “poetry” too, just because it is not often used in fact. I draw and I glue, my world is made of acts.
-Most street artists have an interesting back ground. How did it all start for you?
It all began with a moment of crisis , at a difficult time in my life I needed to change things , to get to express myself, not keep everything in me, so I went to buy pens , paper, and I started drawing in a park. I drew characters, pretty quickly I started with a knight, because of my nickname and various books influences. I started to draw, and then I showed my drawings to people who liked, I was super happy. I made a Myspace as an illustrator friend said it was a good way to see what other people were doing , and not to keep his drawings for himself , again people have liked ; I was even more happy, and suddenly I offered my drawings to these people living in countries where I ‘ve never been . But I could only give the drawing once so I made stickers that I sent to them. Spontaneously came the idea of the street, because I would not go to galleries, I did not want to make requests and I felt that my drawings were not “good enough”. It allowed me to not be accountable to anyone, backpacking with my brush and paste quietly. At the time I did not sign my drawings, and I did that for 2 /3 years, and then later, as I signed, I began to get feedback, to show my work in exhibitions, start projects with schools, do drawings for a film, be in publications, I did all this with relish, in excess, I ‘m not a very measured in what I do so I wheat pasted enormously during this period. I was frenzily creating large formats, I stuck all day. I had a job but I decided to quit in September 2013, first because I could not stand more, and because I have this frenzy “to do”.
I do not have a fine art degree, my background is not coming from the street or the graffiti world. I’m from Angoulême (editor’s note : A city in the centre-west of France know for a the French most famous comics exhibition/festival), where there is a comics festival so “image” was therefore ultra-present in my life , plus a dad who was painting and a mother who reads a lot . So if I mix it all; it gives a natural focus to drawing, and an approach to the street which is quite logical, because there a sense of gratuitousness, freedom and do things spontaneously.
I also come from punk -hard-core, I created a fanzine at that time we did many things with paper, collage, drawing.
-What is the first thing you do when you get up in the morning?
I’m super modern (laughs), it’s horrible, it’s my last addiction: obviously this is Internet, I look at my email, my Facebook, I am horribly addicted to all this, then I start drawing I never get to breakfast; before, I need to do “things”.
-Street art is mostly a visually stimulating form of art. To add another sense, what music or song would best accompany your art work?
There is a big difference between the music I listen to, and what I draw. My musical culture is punk rock, so I’ll choose “La Sourie Déglinguée” (Editor’s note: “the destroyed mouse”) , the group that I have been listening since I’m a teen. It would be the title “Jeunes lords” (Editor’s note: “young lords”).
-In all forms of art, inspiration is crucial. What has inspired you to create so far?
I’m so self-centred, or egocentric, so I am inspired by my life, my emotions, but there is also the literature of the nineteenth oddly, Alexandre Dumas, black and white drawing from Hugo Pratt, animated films like “La planète sauvage”, engraving by Gustave Doré, comics and the Monty Python.
-Before going to paint, what is on your check list to have with you?
Glue, brush, rags to clean my hands, because I often forget rags, I always have disgusting hands when I stick (laughs), and drawings; because it happened to me to forget them, and it is usually the one which you like the most that you forget, it ruins my day.
-Name 3 other artists you admire and why.
.3 is not much. Jacques Brel (Editor’s note : a Belgian singer) , for his way of talking about what he does without using the word “Art” in fact, his generosity. Monty Python, of course, for their freedom, excess, their absurd and nonsense sense of humour. I often say things with a pitch of sal or ironyt, I cannot say things clearly, and Monty Python, it’s really that. They have a poetry of the absurd that I find reassuring.
Daniel Prevost and Pierre Desproges too (editor’s note: both are French humourists)
-Which city would you name as capital of Street Art and why?
I travel a bit, but Berlin seems to have a pretty portion of excessiveness, a variety, it is a city that impressed me because you can’t find any virgin door, there are things everywhere. This is the world upside down, suddenly you find a white wall, and you wonder “why is it still white?” (Laughs)
-What other passions do you have?
Music, I listen to all day. Humans also, I enjoy meeting exciting and unusual people. The girls of course, they make my life shine, it is very basic but its true (laughs); people a little crooked, with multiple lives. Humans are hopeless and fascinating.
-Which is your dream project – ignore costs, realistic thinking and all means.
My dream life would be to travel and glue my drawings in places I do not know, doing things related to places, it would be an extraordinary lifestyle. I want to make a book with texts and illustrations that I did, I would be super proud and happy.
-Does your art include symbolisms, messages or repeated patterns?
Yes a lot, I’m in a code, I do black and white with splashes of colour, there is a sort of “dress code” in my drawings, I love symbols such as keys; animals, for the image of freedom and gentleness; flowers or trees for an idea of growth. I work a lot with symbols, shapes, fauna and flora.
-If someone vandalises your artwork what is your reaction?
It depends, I take lots of photos of my collages damaged, I like when they get older. If cocks or insults are drawn above it makes me laugh; by against, someone who sticks over it annoys me, it’s not legit, it is treating others with contempt.
-Here is the big punch question… We believe, that street art is the biggest and most widespread art movement in the history of mankind. How does it feel being part of it and in what direction do you think it will go in the future?
I do not come from this street art world, I’m not trying to integrate a “milieu”, with its codes. It’s a bit like when people accuse me of not sticking originals, do this or that, I have a backlash, this is not what inspires me. It’s true, I act in the street so you can link me to street art. I like desecrating art, making it available to anyone, but if the hype calms down a bit, it will be good for everyone. It is not because something is on the street that is extraordinary, or that you have something to tell, all the marketing side is a little aggressive, so if it calms down a bit it will be good. I think all this will calm down in the future. If it helps to get people go to museum or exhibitions, then it’s great, and that, I think it will remain. The “bankable” and merchant side will calm down.
– If you were a world leader what would be the first 5 things you would change?
I don’t believe in this, but hey, when you’re a child you chose to be in the group that crushes ants or not. If we could just teach children not to do to others what they do not like to be done, it would change things.
People are not resources. Are not goals. Not instruments.
World leader … um … I would be in trouble because the world is so complicated and violent, it’s already difficult to control my own life.
– Is there a question you think is important but no one ever asked you?
– Do you have a message you would like to express to the world or a certain community?
I do not have to lecture the world on anything, I think we receive enough “truths” every day. I just want to wheat paste something “gentle”, something “slow” because the world goes fast and it’s hard. To propose a shift, a slowdown, encourage people to be out of phase with it. In my approach there is also the idea to deal with what you have, what you can, to “do” rather than “wait and try to grow up” while you can still look at yourself in the mirror
Thank you so very much Fred !
Creative regards! ‘’I Support Street Art’’ team.
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