A few years ago French artist Philippe Lhuillier returned home from Brazil with a suitcase full of 26 years of memories - and inspiration.
One of those memories was of his little neighbor.
“This boy is the son of a fisherman, he was 8 years old that year. He had curly hair and was very naughty. When I took pictures of him he took the initiative to pose,” Lhuillier said. “When I was painting this picture, I enjoyed it very much, because this boy is free and unfettered, with a sort of untamed innocence.”
When Lhuillier lived in Brazil, he worked helping disadvantaged children for many years.
Inner cities could be permeated with crime and at risk youth, and he saw the difficulties that plagued children who lived amongst such social ills. But this child lived near the ports, away from the city crime, and he was different. He showed a sort of spirit that really moved Lhuillier.
“This child consciously resists the social maladies,” he said. “The child’s attitude touched me. I feel relieved to see him.”
The painting is large, stunningly high definition, and it was the first time Lhuillier attempted a portrait of this scale. It makes the fact that he painted it with his non-dominant hand perhaps even more impressive.
Lhuillier began painting in his teens, but soon after his first solo exhibition an accident damaged his right hand, so he had to learn to paint with his left.
He had begun painting as a way to honor his father, who had just passed away, and who loved art. “It was a big blow to me, so I wanted to do something more serious and meaningful. It was a matter of depth,” he said.
So he chose oil painting as his medium.
“For me, oil painting made me discover another kind of artistic depth.”
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