MONTREAL GAZETTE, May 24, 2008
Artist describes his neighbourhood as quiet, peaceful and inspiring
There’s a nice smell of incense here. We’re surrounded by paintings and sculptures. And here you have a studio in the middle of your living space. The Plateau is often described as being full of musicians and artistic people, yet it’s not every day that one actually meets a working artist. Is that what you do?
Nicolas Lehoux: Yes. I am an artist. I describe myself as a visionary artist. I paint and I draw comics. Right now I’m working on a new series of ink drawings to sell.
(We enter the studio and look at the current works in progress – a set of semi-abstract drawings.)
Nice. Flowing, but controlled, slightly retro, and yet I see some mystical elements in there. How do you sign your art?
Lehoux: Leou. (He spells it out.) I am Leou Aeon on Second Life (a virtual reality space online at secondlife.com), where I also exhibit, give classes and host discussion groups in Mystic Academy. And I have a discussion group about 2012 – the end of the Mayan calendar.
Well, you have a peaceful space to work. It’s not a huge apartment, yet there is no clutter – plenty of space to move around and hang your art.
Lehoux: Some of these pieces are by my girlfriend’s. (He points out a few.) And she really likes to decorate. It’s very feng shui here. It’s very studied, like everything is in its place. We pay attention to those tiny details.
Is the neighbourhood also peaceful?
Lehoux: It is very quiet. That’s part of why we moved here. We used to live on St. Laurent in Petite Italie, but there were a lot of trucks. It was cool, but at some point we need some quiet.
Do you know who lived here before you?
Lehoux: There were two artists – an actor and an actress. So there was a really good energy here when we came. And our neighbour upstairs is a musician – a percussionist. Sometimes he plays piano and I can hear it as I’m drawing. So there’s a kind of complicity. It’s incredible to know there’s another artist there and he’s also creating.
It’s a small place, but it’s very large in a way. Doors have been removed. There’s a feeling of being able to walk around. It’s quite open. Did you ever think of changing the colour of the walls?
Lehoux: (Laughs.) That’s what we did when we came here. Everything was dark – (pointing at the floor) see this colour?
Yes. It’s the wide-plank floors, painted a light of grey.
Lehoux: This was yellow. It was very dark here in the hallway. It was also grey. So we decided – me and my girlfriend – to make everything white. It’s a shame the floor was painted. You see in the living room how beautiful the wood floor is?
That’s right, the living room is the only place where the floor is exposed and it’s beautiful, a very wide-plank pine.
Lehoux: It was like this all over, I guess. But I don’t know why they painted that. We lost that. So when we came, it was very dark. You can see the sun does not come in well. So making everything white, I also feel that it’s like a gallery. When you walk in a gallery, it’s white all over, it’s very pure.
(We go through the kitchen and step into the bedroom.)
Your bedroom is mostly bed.
Lehoux: It’s tiny. But the window overlooking the yard gives it a sense of space.
(We walk out the back door and step into the yard.)
That’s a plus, being able to take your breakfast out here in the sun.
Lehoux: It’s a beautiful garden, and the first time we have a garden. We really needed it. My girlfriend and I both love plants. And we will have raspberries for the whole summer.
I can hear the sounds of people and laughter. Is it a family neighbourhood?
Lehoux: We’ve been here for six months, so we’re not exactly sure what it is, but I feel people are very respectful here. We’ve lived in other places where it is poorer, but here we found a place where I think we can be friends with the neighbours. And it’s peaceful, quiet. It’s incredible. And people are beautiful here in the Plateau. You walk in the street, and it’s very inspiring. People smile. And when people smile, it makes a difference.
You also have parks around here. You have Laurier Park, Laurier Street.You’re near St. Denis.
Lehoux: Very close to Mont-Royal, which is a very nice street.
It’s a fun apartment. I must say, you two really express your individuality in your surroundings.
It’s true. Show me your house, I’ll understand who you are. That’s what you do with your articles. You understand people by the way they arrange everything, the energy in the place, the colours. It speaks. You cannot lie. When you enter somebody’s house, you see it right away.
The article on The Gazette’s web site – clic here
Shelter is a weekly series featuring conversations about apartment and condo living.
© The Gazette (Montreal) 2008