Fred le Chevalier – Paste-ups come in people’s life
Fred le Chevalier’s drawings are all over Paris. They are characterized by black and white (sometimes a bit of red) illustrated characters that are dreamy, playful, hopeful and cute.
Fred le Chevalier doesn’t like calling himself an artist, but rather a guy that draws and puts his drawings on walls. He finds that using the word ‘artist’ is a big word and also sometimes a bit arrogant when talking about yourself like that. He has been creating art as Fred le Chevalier for nine years now. Fred le Chevalier: ‘Nine years ago was a hard period in my life. I needed to improve it, put away some pressure and express myself. I came back to a childhood pleasure, because I needed it and also because I became familiar with the work of Beatrice, a French Illustrator.’ He loves her very poetic naive illustrations and felt he could this as well. So, he started to draw again.
When starting to draw again he bought some pens and expressed himself by practicing. After a few months of practicing he decided to show his drawings online on the internet. ‘When someone liked it, I gave it to them and decided to put them on walls for free. It was a perfect way for not keeping all my drawings at home.’ The name Fred le Chevalier is a nickname he has been using for quite some time. It was actually a game between himself and a two year old boy he used to see quite a lot. ‘I taught him to give his parents animal names and I choose a prestigious name for myself as a joke. Also because I loved the “Cape et D’épées” movies, books and history.’ Chevalier is the French word for Knight. The ‘Cape et D’épées’ story is often characterized by adventurous heroic characters, such as knights.
Leaving his drawings outside on the streets it a great way for himself to share it. Also because it is something free and exciting. ‘I used to give them away, but you can only give an original drawing one time. So I made copies and made them travel everywhere I went without having to ask, show my face and have relationships with anyone. It was just perfect for me.’ His drawings only deal with his feelings, dreams, desire and fear. In the beginning he only drew the same character that was running. This character was carrying phrases and he was dealing with hope, a will to overcome and go on. ‘I then added some symbols, animals and monsters that would mostly protect him and some other characters. Many people with a different age and social backgrounds relate to my characters. They create their own stories; see their own feelings.’
His first intention was to express his own feeling and use his drawings as a protection (a sword and a rose). He finds it a great present if other people have a special connection with the characters. ‘I receive letters from people telling me that they kissed for the first time in front of my drawings, see their grandfather or are reminded by the death of someone. The paste-ups come in people’s life, which was unexpected.’ Fred le Chevalier’s drawings are always on paper. He has never painted directly on a wall. He says that he is feeling comfortable with paper. It is his way of expressing himself through art. ‘Maybe one day I will paint for a permanent exposure. I like the idea of putting paper up and letting it disappear, and come and go. When I do exhibitions it is just paper under a frame.’
Fred le Chevalier’s characters can mostly be found in Paris. He has a few favorite walls, where he goes to often. He always chooses a wall close to his home. He walks and walks, finds a good spot; a dirty wall. ‘I need a place to find good food and also a wall. It means I am home. I live there. A place where a few people live rather than a commercial zone or specially touristic or hype place.’ He has also been a guest for the Le M.U.R. project in Paris. When he was asked to create a new mural artwork for Le M.U.R. it was during the controversy about gay weddings. He therefore chose to draw a ball dance party. ‘During the opening there were 25 couples dancing. Some were straight, some gays, lesbians or androgynous.’
If he is travelling he takes his characters with him. He has been to Berlin, London, Brussels, Athens, Lecce, Bari and a few other cities in France. Paris is his home and the home of most of his characters. He finds that living in Paris has good and bad experiences. He would not recommend living in Paris. ‘There are many good and nice places, a cultural life and music, but also a lot of hysteria. People are pushing each other and say rude words.’
For next year he is hoping to have a new exhibition in May. He is now trying to find a place and organize it by himself without a gallery being involved. ‘You can see it as a party by surprising people and perhaps with presents. A band playing and friends disguised as my characters. I hope to see people smiling in May.’ Street Art Europe is already looking forward to this. We like surprises and the unusual.
Interview by Nicole Blommers | photos by Martial Denais.