Halfway between art and sciences, the fascinating world of sharks in Fort-Lauderdale
e-toile: Dear Pascal Lecocq, two of your paintings are exhibited as part of Shark! A traveling exhibition presented by the Art Museum of Fort Lauderdale until January 6, 2013. Can you describe this exhibition dedicated to the fascinating world of sharks that combines art and science?
Pascal Lecocq: This is a historical exhibition on the theme of the shark showcasing the works of 70 artists including three French: the painter and environmentalist Ila France Porcher, the sculptor Victor Douieb who resides in Los Angeles, and myself installed in Fort Lauderdale for ten years.
The exhibition includes some previous works (Eighteenth, Nineteenth and early Twentieth centuries), but they are mostly contemporary (paintings, sculptures, pictures, films, installations).
My famous "Corrida" (III, 2006) depicts a great white shark. It was while working for the set of the opera "Carmen" by Bizet I had the idea for this toreador submarine; the first version (1993) is in Paris (private collection) and the second (3, 60x3m, 1997) is located in the lobby of the Centre de la Mer Nausicaa in Boulogne s/ mer.
My "Colosseus watching" (2006) depicts two whale sharks and the well known airship in the skies over Miami: the Goodyear blimp, which I emphasize the resemblance.
You speak of fascination, it’s actually my case since my first encounter with sharks in the aquarium Nausicaa in Boulogne s/ Mer in the early 90s and it is the sea creature - an absolute masterpiece of evolution cruising the past 300 million years! - I represent the most.
The scientific aspect is discussed in the excellent catalog of the exhibition curator Richard Ellis (a specialist of the marine world, head to the Museum of Natural History in New York, and the first contemporary painter of sharks in the 70s), and in the encyclopedic hundred boards representing all species of sharks (2001-2004) of the prodigious English watercolor artist, Marc Dando.
The tour is based on the novel by Peter Benchley and Spielberg’s film "The Jaws" (1974) who changed our perception of the shark.
Forty years later, it is difficult to get rid of this negative image, making difficult to raise awareness about the ecological catastrophe of the massacre of sharks, and this is the great interest of the exhibition. Under the guise of showing artworks, it educates the public and informs people that the killing of 100 million sharks a year to use only the cartilage of fins to make soup, will make them disappeared in the very short term, just before us ...
The museum is particularly "fluid" and is a great achievement as the Museum of Art in Fort Lauderdale can do it (Tutankhamun in 2005, St. Peter and the Vatican, Lady Diana and recently The Treasures of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence) .
An audio tour with relevant comments of Mr. Richard Ellis enchants visitors; it ends at the gift shop featuring more works by the sculptor Victor Douieb and reproductions of many of my works.
- e-toile:One of these two paintings, "Corrida", became a symbol for sea divers. You who have lived and worked on coasts of Europe, including in Normandy and you live now in Fort Lauderdale.
What differences have you noticed here and there in scuba diving and more generally in human relationship with the sea ?
Pascal Lecocq: This "Corrida" is actually my signature painting, it is also declined in all its forms, reproduction on canvas, paper or ceramic, beach towel, mug, mouse pad, and postcard!
From experience, I saw everywhere the same relationship between man and the sea:
Greed (we exploit natural resources to the maximum)
Selfishness (we will leave a dead ocean full of garbage to our children)
Fascination (world of silence, evasion, concealing a few more beauties)
Inspiration (as demonstrated by the artists, writers, filmmakers, photographers in this exhibition).
This is astonishing, interesting and reassuring that the relationship to the marine world is similar to the world of art.
There is no border underwater, the only language known is made of signs and men are standardized in wetsuits.
The artwork has the same status and during my exhibitions, I
did not observe any different reactions in front of my paintings wherever it was: Singapore, Nagoya, Kiev, Tabarka, Quebec or Florida.
The practice of scuba diving is booming, it can be seen here with Key Largo being the "world capital of diving" and in France.
I exhibited at the Salon of Diving in Paris for 15 years and the number of visitors exceeds 50,000!
It must result from a need to escape, a need of sensations, but also of preservation, which is offered by the entertainment world today.
- e-Toile: You have collaborated in several books of painting techniques and you nurture an educational approach of your art. You must then be very flattered to introduce your work in this museum hosted by Florida Nova Southeastern University. Why have you preferred this route?
Pascal Lecocq: One of the many shark advocacy groups that I support is called very intelligently FINS (Fear Ignorance NOT Sharks!).
I think that only education can fight ignorance (in all areas!)
Having only days of 24 hours, I had to abandon the idea of a teaching career and reduce the number of my publications in order to devote myself to the painting alone for the last 35 years.
However, being a narrative painter full of imagination, I add to my oil paintings layers of meanings that the viewer might read or query.
For example, I make pastiches submarines from classical painting such as the Nighthawks by Edward Hopper, the American Gothic by Grant Wood, the Angelus of Millet or Rodin’s Thinker ...
You can discover them in my latest album: “Chefs-d’oeuvre/Masterpieces by Pascal Lecocq” (ed. Lulu, 2011).
I also organize workshops and drawing competitions dedicated to children in order to raise some vocations, push artistic potential and raise awareness of our environment.
The NSU has an outstanding research center in marine biology and is associated with the Museum of Art in Fort Lauderdale that hosts a great Academy of Art and Design.
The exhibition SHARK! also comes with an excellent educational brochure (Family Activity Guide).
My works are on permanent display at the NOBE Art Gallery in Fort Lauderdale and visible on my website www.pascal-lecocq.com
Address: Museum of Art | Fort Lauderdale - Nova Southeastern University (NSU)
One East Las Olas Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
Exhibition remains on view until January 6, 2013