Interview with Artist Sylvain Levier

Caroline Broman
Sylvain Levier
Sylvain Levier art

Sylvain Levier an artist that inspired me with simplicity and mindfulness. And I am grateful that he took the time to have a chat with us about art, inspiration + he shared 3 tips to you the creative who wish to start painting. (I promise you do not want to miss out on those)

Born in 1975, Sylvain lives and works in Bagneux, France. A graduate of the School of Fine Arts in Arras, wood sculpture section.

Sylvain Levier’s current work focuses on the practice of drawing. It is all about composition, balances between emptiness and fullness, what appears and disappears. Most of his series of drawings are obtained thanks to unusual tools that constrain his gestures.

The idea and the illusion that the drawing could ultimately be the result of something other than the hand are at the center of his approach.


It is all about composition, balances between emptiness and fullness, what appears and disappears.

Sylvain Levier art

Where do you find inspiration to your art? 

I am a bit embarrassed by this question, 25 years ago I would have answered you without hesitation the wild landscapes of Brittany where I come from (northwest coast of France), the natural elements like the sea and more particularly the stone.

The notion of inspiration as we often understand it implies referring to something known and identifiable as a support or basis for work. This is no longer the case today.

The main interest seems to me to lie in trying to represent what you don’t clearly identify yourself, to be surprised by what you didn’t expect, by what you don’t control. To meet a familiar stranger in a way.

Today, it is the work itself, these successes as well as these failures that generate directions and outcomes.

The notion of inspiration is very uncertain, and it seems futile to me to rely on it, to seek it or to wait for it, which can last a lifetime.

However, I have interests such as architecture, whose traces are present in my work.

If there is inspiration, it would be the expression of a moment, a moment of lucidity

I think these moments are found within oneself, and nowhere else.


Art imposed itself on me very early, as another way of communicating when I was still a child. Drawing  was much easier for me than talking and allowed me to stay back behind. I think that’s still the case.

Sylvain Levier art
Sylvain Levier art
Sylvain Levier art


If there is inspiration, it would be the expression of a moment, a moment of lucidity. 

How would you define your style? 

Although I never thought I would work in this or that style, I will describe my current work as abstract, geometric, and minimalist, that’s a fact, but it’s not a hazard. I have little interest in narrative. When I search for a story, I open a book. My way of working is objective, the void, the full, the balances, the contrasts, the composition.

Sylvain Levier art
Sylvain Levier art
Sylvain Levier art


Accept that your own work may not be of interest to others, because it is above all a personal story

Can you name three artists that you admire the work of? 

Aurélie Nemours for the coherence between her thought, her word and her work. I had the chance to meet this great figure of modern art, in her studio in Paris, shortly before she died.

Choosing the path of geometric abstraction, in its most radical form, sixty years ago, as a woman, may seem like an artistic suicide. It requires a lot of lucidity and strength.

Here are some of her reflections that I find very accurate: “Art is to life what the virtual is to matter, what the idea is to action… Art forces our limits, danger, risk, anxiety, resolution”.

And Donald Judd. And Carl André.

It seems to me that art is above all a question of perception, in the physiological sense of the term, and this, before men make a narrative of it. I often take the example of music, where it is about the ability to hear, no one asks “what is it?” in other words, transposed to the ability to see, I think the forms are sufficient in themselves.

As a whole, the relationship to space, to what surrounds us, to the context, is fundamental. The forms are revealed in relation to their surroundings.  

These reflections are present in the work of these artists, maybe differently for Aurélie Nemours who uses the support as a space but… i decided to quote them for their approach to art for what it is, both simply and very accurately.


As a whole, the relationship to space, to what surrounds us, to the context, is fundamental.  The forms are revealed in relation to their surroundings.  

How does your painting studio look like? And what are some of your must have inspiring objects in your studio?

I no longer have a studio, I work when I find a place quiet enough to do it. This forces me to focus all my efforts on very short periods of time. This generates tensions that are part of the work. This is an important point because it determines my choices of media, formats and methods.

I am not materialistic, except for musical instruments, which I try to keep close by. I don’t need any particular objects except my working tools, and a working plan. The void suits me very well. The mind is sufficient.

If there are trees around me it’s better. I feel safe and more serene when nature is near.


The void suits me very well. The mind is sufficient.

If you could choose any place and wall, where would you love your art to be displayed? 

I don’t have any particular exhibition space in mind, no matter what it is made for or not. I prefer spaces that allow dialogue with the works, a good combination of these two elements is fundamental to generate particular feelings. One cannot go without the other, everything is linked. 

A bad place can really be harmful to the work, it is important to take it into account. There are many opportunities to exhibit, but few are the ones that make sense.

See Also
Agnieszka Kaluzna Artist office


A bad place can really be harmful to the work, it is important to take it into account. There are many opportunities to exhibit, but few are the ones that make sense.


3 Tips

To the creative who wants to start painting

This may surprise you, but I would advise not to start, because it can drive you crazy! 

More seriously, I understand that the idea of being an artist may seem attractive, but I think that starting an artistic process is more of a necessity than a wish, there is a world between these two notions. 

The need for recognition can, depending on how we approach things, generate negative attitudes when it is not satisfied or controlled. It can act as a parasite that keeps us in posture and calculation and keeps us away from who we are, a kind of illusory fantasy.

One case that seems interesting to me, however, is that of people without experience in this field, with no capacity, no particular gift, and who cross the path of art by indirect means, as well as activities without apparent links. Because they sometimes find other hybrid ways, other unusual working methods. 

My attitude would be totally different if I addressed children, I would say yes, of course, here is an opportunity to become magicians, for real. Children are not opportunistic, and have no references other than what their hearts tell them, they are free because there are no issues at stake. 

Art imposed itself on me very early, as another way of communicating when I was still a child. Drawing  was much easier for me than talking and allowed me to stay back behind. I think that’s still the case.

  • I would therefore advise to start only if it is a necessity, because only necessity tests time and disappointment. 


  • To keep your distances from the references in order to try to stay yourself. 


  • Accept that your own work may not be of interest to others, because it is above all a personal story.

Thank you Sylvain for sharing your story with us and for inspiring us! Follow @sylvain.levier for more inspiration.

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