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We Want To Know: Lénaïc Mercier

We Want To Know: Lénaïc Mercier

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Photo credit: Johann Quistrebert

Today I have the distinct pleasure of introducing you to an extremely talented photographer and genuinely kind person, Lénaïc Mercier (you can call him Lenny). If his name looks familiar, it might be because you've seen it here before – he is the photographer credited for several of the photos from yesterday's post recapping highlights from Toronto Women's Fashion Week. You would have also seen him as the photographer credited for many of the photos in a previous #WeWantToKnow feature on Neil Schmidt; I met these two friends together at the launch party for Janette Ewen's line of furniture for Mobilia and knew right away I was in the presence of great talent. I asked Lenny to show me some of his work and I was blown away! We recently got together over coffee so that I could get to know how he got into photography, and to find out more about his upcoming exhibition in New York City.

Photos by Lénaïc, clockwise from top-left: Empire State Mirror, NYC; The Lady in Red, London; Vatican City; Tower Bridge, London

Photography was not Lenny's intended career, but it is also not a far leap from the subjects he studied. Lenny attended CinéCréatis, a school for film studies in his hometown of Nantes, France. Lenny graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Audiovisual and Theatrical production, and thanks to the school's philosophy of giving its students a well-rounded education and teaching all facets of the film industry, he came away with a skill-set that prepared him for diverse opportunities, and found himself an internship as a video editor just one day after graduating from his program. Lenny has since been able to express himself artistically in many ways, having worked in prop styling, stage direction, and additional work as a video editor. He has always enjoyed learning new artistic pursuits, and five years ago he ventured into photography. Though much of his previous work was in video, Lenny was always interested in image itself, and after having worked many years with moving images he wanted to explore the still side. At the time, Lenny was working mostly on editing work, not on actually creating something, and he wanted to change this.

Photos by Lénaïc, clockwise from top-left: Brooklyn Photoshoot, NYC; Toronto Runway; Guy in the Window, NYC;Love in Rome

When Lenny first started experimenting with photography he was drawn to capturing the architecture around him. He visited Paris, and, as most are wont to do, took a lot of photos of the Eiffel Tower (I can relate, having taken about 600 myself when I was there!). But then, as he was shooting structures and buildings, he eventually turned his lens onto the people in the street and began capturing candid moments; he quickly realized that this was something he really enjoyed doing. It is a testament to all his hard work as a self-taught photographer that in December of 2015 he was approached by an art gallery representative in NYC to see if Lenny would be interested in doing an exhibition at her gallery. Lenny was thrilled by the opportunity and the exhibition, called FIAT#LUX (Latin for “Let There Be Light"), opens later this year in September.

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Chantal Westby and Lénaïc Mercier are creating the collection "FIAT#LUX" in the studio of Chantal in Philadelphia, June 2016. Photo credit: Johann Quistrebert

Chantal Westby and Lénaïc Mercier are creating the collection "FIAT#LUX" in the studio of Chantal in Philadelphia, June 2016.

Photo credit: Johann Quistrebert

Lenny came up with an idea for his exhibition that involved a collaboration with fellow artist, painter and friend Chantal Westby, that blended their artistic talents around the theme of light and creation. Photography and the photography of art are often considered exclusive disciplines, but this exhibition will blur those dividing lines, as this collaborative project showcases Lenny's photographs of Chantal in her element creating her paintings, and in turn, Lenny has developed an unparalleled technique that gives his photos an ethereal, light-filled quality that mirrors the light and blurred effect that exist in Chantal's paintings. But it doesn't stop there – this will be a fully immersive exhibition, and in addition to the paintings and the photos, viewers will be treated to video mapping on the walls, and scent and sound will elevate the senses; even the sense of touch will not be overlooked. All of these elements in the exhibition will contribute to bringing the viewer into the world of FIAT#LUX – Lenny and Chantal want to awaken all the senses in the visitors to the gallery.

Chantal Westby in her studio during the creation of the collection "FIAT#LUX", in Philadelphia, June 2016. Photo credit: Lénaïc Mercier

Chantal Westby in her studio during the creation of the collection "FIAT#LUX", in Philadelphia, June 2016.

Photo credit: Lénaïc Mercier

I was very touched by Lenny's story of the evolution of his photographic technique and how, eventually, the exhibition, came about. The idea for FIAT#LUX really started long ago when Lenny was photographing his father-in-law's progress in building a large-scale model of the Titanic. This was when Lenny developed his unique process that lends that ethereal quality to his photos. In photographing these moments, he aimed to show the work of a maker at his craft by capturing close-ups of his father-in-law's hands performing the intricate work. Unfortunately, his father-in-law would suffer a fatal heart attack only days after they finished this photography session together. It is an emotional and important moment for Lénaïc to look back on, and he remembers it with both sadness for the loss of someone he loved, happiness for having captured a special moment with him, and reverence for having had this special time during which he created something that will live on. The model ship was never finished, but Lenny's desire to share the story of artists and makers and how they create is something that he will carry forward with him and reflect on with pride and love.

Photograph of Lénaïc Mercier, from the collection FIAT#LUX. Photo credit: Lénaïc Mercier

Photograph of Lénaïc Mercier, from the collection FIAT#LUX.

Photo credit: Lénaïc Mercier

FIAT#LUX will be showing at the Agora Gallery in Chelsea, NYC from September 26th, 2017 to October 17th, 2017. The opening reception will be on September 28th.

Want more? Let's hear from Lénaïc himself. Here's what We Want To Know:

I can't start my morning without... a lemon juice with honey and a coffee

I have a weakness for... the magic combination of – bread / salted butter / cheese / red wine - (well, yes, I'm French...)

Most people don't know that I... was a child circus artist, practicing trapeze...

Currently reading... Murder on the Orient Express

I want... to work more, always more, everywhere I can, to continue to constantly meet new people and never stop to dream

Thanks for participating in #WeWantToKnow, Lenny! Looking forward to checking out your exhibit in NYC this fall. 

Here's where you can keep in touch with Lenny: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr | Vimeo | YouTube

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