by Anna & Maria Sciacca
Many international artists show their artworks in exhibitions at Twentieth Gallery, located in the gardens of Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles. Art, design, and sculptures are on view at the Gallery’s modern and luminous expositive spaces; among them, the debut of Hydrochrom, an interesting collection of glass sculptures by the French artist, designer, musician, and creative director Sébastien Léon. He started his career in the 2000s in New York, working then for global artistic platforms for brands such as Diesel, Coca Cola, Starbucks, Macallan, Cartier. At his atelier, inspired by the model of the Italian Renaissance studio, Léon blurs the lines between fine art and designs through his commissions, music, furniture, painting, video such as a great sonic sculpture for a high-rise building in Istanbul, video art and paintings for Samsung televisions, a temporary restaurant for Krug Champagne and Ducasse in Paris, bespoke glass sculptures, and award-winning furniture designs. He has also created a series of “Sunset strip paintings”, a series of “Echoes drawings” in acrylic and spray paint, and “Stardust drawings” with ink and acrylic. Sébastien Léon is the author of Remastered (Gestalten), a book that includes many artists reinterpreting the Masters of Western painting, and he’s the composer/writer of the solo record “Jeux d’Artifices” produced by James Truman. Léon received an MBA from SDA Bocconi in Milan, Italy.
The Hydrochrom glass sculptures series by Sèbastien Léon refers to the Greek expression “the color of water”, and consists of tabletop sculptures, lighting, and sound sculptures. In 2019, Léon expressed his artistic talent in the Geochrom, an installation of lighting and paintings exhibited at Design Miami in collaboration with the Gemstone Company, Gemfields. Geochrom, which derives its name from geo, “the earth” and chrom, “colors,” alludes to the geological structure of emeralds and rubies.
In Hydrochrom, Léon creates a series of glass works; the glass cubes are formed and then combined into assemblages. They’re in the colors of blue, green, red, and amber. Some are pure glass sculptures, such as the “coral sculpture” made with various glass colors, and “Arafura sculpture” made with blue glass and copper chain, others are light sculptures with LED fixtures through the core of the glass; these act as lighting sculptures as “Java light sculpture”, “Aegean”, “Alboran”, “Wedell light sculpture,” which is also decorated with natural rope, and some are transformed into sound sculptures playing the wide deep sound of the ocean as “Azov sound sculpture” made of blown glass, electronics, mahogany base, and music. The blue bubbly glass texture and the sound of the ocean environment make Azov very fascinating.
L’Idea Magazine: What are the types of glass used for your sculptures?
Sébastien Léon: This is hand-blown glass, blown in Los Angeles. The US Pacific coast also has a tradition of glassblowing, not to the extent of Murano, but some important glass artists are based here.
L’Idea Magazine: Do you also work with crystal glass, frosted glass, and Venetian Murano glass?
Sébastien Léon: The main difference between crystal and blown glass is that it contains lead-oxide or metal-oxide, making it possible to produce thin clear glasses. It is also clearer than regular glass. But the glass we use for Hydrochrom is thick and contains bubbles, so it is preferable to use regular glass. The bubbles are created right before we blow the glass by folding the molten glass on itself. I sometimes create frosted glass, which is an effect we create by sandblasting the surface of the glass once cold.
L’Idea Magazine: How long does it take to realize these sculptures?
Sébastien Léon: It takes us three months to make one, because of all the various steps involved, but I make several at a time.
L’Idea Magazine: Which is the best environment to keep them?
Sébastien Léon: The best environment to keep them is indoors.
L’Idea Magazine: Does each sculpture of Hydrochrom series have a different sound?
Sébastien Léon: The Azov sculpture is the only light in the series with sound as well.
L’Idea Magazine: How do you get colors for your sculptures and which colors do you prefer?
Sébastien Léon: I prefer working with translucent colors – any translucent color – because I like the texture of light going through the glass. The reason why I started inserting lighting inside the sculptures was not so much to make lights, but rather to better show the texture of the glass.
L’Idea Magazine: What about the Mirage collection? Why do you call it Mirage?
Sébastien Léon: Mirage is a series of sculptures based on silvered glass volumes, equipped with LED lighting in their core. Without light, the forms are opaque and silver, just as if they were coming out of a metallic cast. When the light is on, the sculptures are seen through and become lights. I have called the series Mirage after that optical trick.
L’Idea Magazine: Azov sculptures dedicated to the Oceanic ambient, it was a beautiful, original idea, have you thought of creating a series of glass sculptures with some plastic plant miniatures through the core of the glass playing the Amazon rainforest sounds?
Sébastien Léon: I wouldn’t mind creating a sculpture as a tribute to the Amazon, especially since nature is a big part of my work, but it would be different. I typically don’t use plastic.
L’Idea Magazine: What do you mean when you say that it would be different to create a green glass sculpture that plays the sounds of Amazon rainforest?
Sébastien Léon: I don’t know, I’d have to think about it. Maybe in the future, right now it is not on my mind.
L’Idea Magazine: Are you working on something new at this moment? Will you present your artwork at new exhibitions in America and Europe?
Sébastien Léon: I am currently working on a glass show at Ralph Pucci in New York in January and am also having a solo exhibition of drawings and sculptures at Praz Delavallade in Los Angeles. I will be realizing my book of drawings, “Psychodessins” early next year.
L’Idea Magazine: Why the word “Psychodessins”? What is your book about?
Sébastien Léon: The book is about a mesmerizing journey into surreal and transcendent realms, it’s a visual odyssey through the depths of the subconscious and the very act of artistic creation.
Hydrochrom is available with Twentieth: Azov Sound Sculpture Sébastien Léon Hydrochrom Twentieth Exhibitions
Hydrochrom sound sculpture Sébastien Léon Hydrochrom, presented by Twentieth Gallery – YouTube