Meet Samuel and Léon Bloch, two brothers from Paris who are joined together by blood and artistic practice. Samuel, on the one hand, studied graphic design at London College of Communication and now freelances back in his Parisian hometown, painting in his studio and working on both animation and design projects for French cultural institutions. Meanwhile, Léon studied object design at Gerrit Rietveld Academie Amsterdam and is currently working towards an MA in fine art at École des beaux Arts de Marseille – during which he flits between art and illustration, as well as sculpture and design.
“We both have influenced each other in our creative work overtime,” Samuel tells It’s Nice That, who points to their years in school as being the moment they first started working together. The collaboration sparked while producing a zine named Smile and, with Samuel on the design and typography, plus Léon on the text, poems and drawings, it was a match made in heaven – perhaps unsurprising considering they’ve spent a life together under each others’ influence. A few more projects down the line and their collaborative nature started to blossom even more. “We have different ways of working, which makes it interesting to bring together our respective universes,” he adds, especially when it comes to combining Léon’s handmade sculpture with his own 3D animation technology. Léon adds on the matter: “These exchanges have always been fruitful and joyful; we want to continue collaborating in this way in the future.”
Combing contrasting mediums with the bond of brotherhood, both their respective practices have a certain rawness and tactility. Léon describes his work as being “both naive and light,” carefully executed and with special attention paid to “technical prowess” and detail. There are times when he works with more spontaneity in mind – creating something comparatively more energetic – but there’s more or less a considered approach to his methodology. Recently, he’s been employing the use of an A5 pen and colour pencil for a series of drawings, detailing scenes “where the objects and environments express as much as the characters, where the action is suggested rather than portrayed,” he shares. Just like the conflicting nature of their work as a whole, these drawings in particular sing with a juxtaposition, marking elements of fantasy and realism and voices through the development of machines and monsters.
When it comes to Samuel’s artistic endeavours, he prefers to paint freely, depicting whatever springs to mind on the canvas, “and rarely try to reproduce something too precise.” Cementing a conflicting nature between their styles, it’s, in fact, a harmonious accompaniment to Léon’s technical drawings, featuring an array of distorted body parts, “funny and scary creatures,” as well as plants that become “intertwined with each other to form a dreamy or strange picture.” When he’s not painting, however, he’ll turn his focus onto animations and graphics, extending elements of paint and drawing into 3D digital worlds. And even though he tends to dabble in the more digital side of design, painting is a realm in which he spends most of his time as of late.
Inspiration can come in many forms for them both, most notably from nature, people and objects. Not to mention Léon’s objects which have influenced Samuel’s “depiction of humanoid forms” in his own output. With this in mind, they both like to take on various projects from the long-term to the short. “I like the race,” adds Léon, “the constraint, and working intensely for a time to get an almost instant outcome.” So when putting on their own show, Little People in the Big Picture, it was a pure meshing of their personalities, styles and inspirations – a true representation of their personalities as artists, people and brothers.
Curated and assembled by them both, it was held over two days at 10 Passage Thiéré in the 11th arrondissement in Paris. “The title of the show was thought up by Léon and poetically suggests the meeting of our personalities,” says Samuel. “It also alludes to the different scales of the works shown.” This includes big and small paintings and sculptures, as well as wooden snakes on the floor, “creeping up on the visitors,” a birdcage “without the bird inside” plus pictures of humans and insects. “It was a great way to see how we interact aa brothers in our own personal direction,” adds Samuel.
There’s a synergy that can be felt between any sibling relationship, but especially between Léon and Samuel. This was the very first exhibition they’ve produced together, and hopefully (or assuredly) there will be many more just like this in the near future. “We influence each other greatly,” says Léon, “although our media styles differ, it was great to see how well they combined inside a space.”
Léon Bloch: Color pencil series (Copyright © Léon Bloch, 2021)
About the Author
Ayla was an editorial assistant back in June 2017 and has continued to work with us on a freelance basis. She has spent the last seven years as a journalist, and covers a range of topics including photography, art and graphic design. Feel free to contact Ayla with any stories or new creative projects.