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Jean Labourdette “Turf One” has floored us once again! We keep on looking at his paintings, and he just does not stop impressing us.

Soul _1 For his show Tiny Theater of the Absurd at Stranger Factory opening September 6, Jean has created a wide range of sizes of his work to appeal to just about everyone. Above, we have just that.

You aren’t looking into an almost perfect view of a peephole or an eye exam, but a perfectly painted eye wrapped in an exemplary circular frame. Even at a miniature size, this shows the detail and precision Jean is known for.

With a title of “Soul”, Jean allows us more depth than just a human eye. Eyes are the most expressive part of your body. A person can pretend to be happy or excited but if that’s not reflected by a light in your eyes, someone who knows you really well will be able to tell.  Whatever you’re feeling inside is mirrored in your eyes as in a mirror into your soul. Well done sir, well done!

Jean Labourdette and Travis Louie’s Tiny Theater of the Absurd runs September 6th – 29th, with an opening reception on Friday, September 6th from 6 – 9 PM.

Jean Labourdette’s (a.k.a Turf One) work is magical, unsettling and mysterious, and we’ve been after the man to find out more about him and his wonderful world of disconcerting midgets, pretty animals, and odd skulls.

One of the things Jean showed us was his own personal curiosity cabinet, which is appropriately filled with all sorts of strange and wonderful things. Delightfully, Jean also told us that he makes good use of his cabinet in his own artwork. It’s true – you’ll find a charming assortment of decapitated doll heads and grinning skulls and miscellaneous bits of natural history ephemera in Jean Labourdette’s works, and the art world is better off for it.

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Turf One’s personal Cabinet of Curiosities

As he says – “I have been picking and collecting objects that i find inspiring for a little over ten years with the idea of putting together several curiosity cabinets. Those cabinets end up being sort of an extension of my subconscious, they are filled with symbols that fascinate me and that I use over and over in my paintings… Actually, I have always been fascinated by objects that have a soul and a history of their own… As a child I used to go every week-ends to flee markets in the Paris area with my dad, and later on, as a graffiti artist, I got in to the habit of bringing home objects from the abandoned places I used to “visit”… So really, this habit of collecting stuff has been going on for quite some time already…

Here’s a little treasure hunt for Circus Posterus fan – look through Jean’s gallery (sometimes NSFW), find a piece of work of his that uses something in his cabinet for reference, and post it in our forum thread about the show. I’ll personally mail you a postcard from Jean’s opening in September if you do, and we’ll throw some extra Stranger Factory treats in as well!

We’ve provided some examples throughout the article, but you should find some for yourself – the trip through Jean’s galleries is absolutely worth it.

Abandoned Shrine, 2010

Abandoned Shrine, 2010

We also got a chance to talk to Jean about his graffiti work, his ventures into the Paris Catacombs, and some other miscellaneous questions we had on our mind, which he very graciously answered.

Tell us about your favourite adventure in the Paris Catacombs!
It was all such a great and life-changing experience! Going down there is like getting lost into your own subconscious and traveling back in time into the memory of the city of Paris at the same time…

Some of my favorite moments were going down to the ossuaries and having to crawl in a tunnel filled almost up to the ceiling with human bones, going through some tunnels filled with water, discovering some charcoal graffiti from before the French Revolution…

(ed. note: Jean and filmmaker Marielle Quesney spent four years following graffiti writer Psyckoze through the Paris Catacombs for their 2006 documentary Dead Space. For more, read this fascinating interview at XLR8R here.)

The graffiti work I’ve seen from you is fascinating – can you tell us more about your early life as an artist?
I have always liked to draw and paint. My father was an artist, so that was a normal thing for me to do since a very early age. I got into doing graffiti when I was around 12, at the end of the 80’s. Graffiti ended up being my art school and my passion for a good 15 years. It also got me into making comics, illustrations, and eventually working as a painter…it was all an evolution that came from Graffiti and the influence of my father as well.

You’ve played in so many art fields…graffiti, film, comics – what’s your favourite? Where do you see yourself evolving to in the next ten years?
They were all my favorite at one point in time along my artistic path and evolution. For me, it’s about Creation rather than mediums or fields. As long as you manage to express your creativity through a specific medium, as long as it challenges you, it is great…and when it starts to run dry, it is time to move on to a new one.

But I would say that the most constant mode of expression for me since I was a child, that never bored me or limited me, is painting.

The Messenger, 2005. The skull and altar should look familiar.

The Messenger, 2005. The skull and altar should look familiar.

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Time fliesSeptember brings us Jean Labourdette aka Turf One’s “Tiny Theater of the Absurd to Stranger Factory. This being Jean’s debut at the gallery, we are beyond excited, since we are absolutely in awe of his work.

Now comes the fun part when we gradually get to see Jean’s jaw dropping work, and we are on the edge of our seats, because we are getting to see it unfold at almost the same time we get to blog about it!

Above is one of Jean’s pieces for the show titled “Time Flies“. Jean must know what we all love because a monkey with an intense and stern stare wearing a fez is always dear to our hearts, but the painting dives so much deeper than our love of a good fez. His amazing use of the gold background references art from the Middle Ages as symbolism for the immensity and elegance of heaven. Combined with the circular halo employed on heavenly figures and enlightened beings, then we definitely have an evolved monkey, and time sure does fly because evolution doesn’t happen over night. Also, for the direct – and more literal – approach, there is a perfectly painted fly atop a hourglass.

Well done, Jean, well done! We can’t wait to see more.

Travis Louie’s and Turf One’s Tiny Theater of the Absurd runs September 6th – 29th, with an opening reception on Friday, September 6th from 6 – 9 PM.

I always enjoy getting to peek into an artist’s studio, so I was ecstatic when Jean Labourdette (Turf One) sent in some shots of his! And then I was promptly amazed at how anyone manages to work in that enthusiastically messy space, but I digress…:)

jean1

Jean definitely looks like he’s in work-mode for his upcoming show at Stranger Factory, and the variety of amazing little things on his wall gloriously reflect his surreal, delightfully disconcerting, antiqued style. I can’t wait to see what he’s cooking up for September!

jean4

Travis Louie and Turf One‘s “Tiny Theater of the Absurd” runs September 6th – 29th, with an opening reception on Friday, September 6th from 6 – 9 PM.