Can art be, not only inspiring, but playful and physically engaging? Essentially, award-winning artist, Majie Lavergne, has found a way to turn artwork into an ever-changing and interactive experience. Using abstract shapes, beautiful colors, and strong magnets, Majie’s wall-hanging art contains pieces that can be rearranged upon the viewer’s preference.
Born in Paris, France, Majie now lives and works on Vancouver Island, Canada. His father, a well known post-impressionist painter Robert Lavergne, inspired him to embrace art, especially painting, from a young age. Interestingly, Majie started his professional creative career as a documentary film maker before going on to earn a Master’s degree in Counseling and Art Therapy.
Majie now dedicates his time to creating artwork and he recently exhibited his creations at the famed ArtExpo show in New York City. His works have been featured on television shows, radio shows, and articles—especially regarding his “Re-Create” interactive series.
Majie recently granted an exclusive interview where he discussed the development of his innovative “Re-Create” series, his background as an artist, his aspirations for the future and more.
Meagan Meehan (MM) of Entertainment Vine: Your father was an artist and you grew up in Paris which is a hub of the arts…so, how much do you think your childhood influenced your adulthood?
Majie Lavergne (ML): Yes, being the son of Robert Lavergne, a well-known Post-Impressionist had much influence on me. As a young adult my father and I would often discuss his paintings, he was always looking for harmony in colors and for the light in a painting and that has stayed with me. It clearly impacted my sense of aesthetic and beauty and has given me deep admiration for painters. Being born in the art world in Paris was pretty cool, you know as a teenager VanGogh was my hero! Also, my godfather, Louis Nallard, a pioneer of the Abstract lyrical movement in Paris, played a big role later in my life. He opened me up to Abstraction, which has become my main artistic style. I love the freedom that it allows.
MM: You actually started out being a documentary film maker, so what films did you make and which topics most appealed to you?
ML: I made over twenty films, from documentaries to fiction and educational films. I loved working for French TV making various mini documentaries on the American Film Producers and Directors, because they allowed me to step into people’s lives in a way that is often very intimate and revealing. The people I interviewed opened up new worlds to me.
MM: Why did you decide to delve back into visual arts and how have you gotten your work recognized?
ML: After twenty years in the film business, I felt done. Deep down I knew there was a painter inside of me. I chose to do my masters in counseling and art therapy, with an intention to turn back toward the artist within. While painting, I loved getting lost in colors and shapes and would find much joy and fulfillment, giving it more and more of my time. Henry Miller’s words always resonated with me, “To paint is to love again.” For the last fifteen years I have been solidly engaged in my art career. I have exhibited in Canada, US and France, my work has appeared in more than 20 solo and group exhibitions. I have been chosen for many juried shows where I have won some awards. Doing Art fairs, like Art Vancouver, ArtLab Vancouver and the New York Art Expo, has also helped to gain exposure and make connections with galleries, art consultants, art collectors and interior designers.
MM: You’re best known for your “Re-Create” series of interactive work. So, how did you come up with this concept?
ML: Good question! As an abstract painter shapes fascinate me, of course, and one day I started to wonder if I could create a painting where shapes could be altered and changed….at first, I used velcro, then moved to using magnets and metal. Being an art therapist, I knew the benefits for people to tap into their own creativity and express themselves through art. This “Re-Create” series confronts and re-negotiates the rigid boundary that separates the viewer from the artist. With Re-Create, the traditional context of, “Don’t touch!”, “Just look at the art.”, is absent and the viewer is invited to physically move pieces of the artwork and to step into his or her own creative process and sense of play. Re-Create is an ever-changing art, only limited by one’s own imagination and promotes values such as creativity, innovation and play. With Re-Create, while it is the artist that makes the art product, it is the viewer that imbues the art with life. Re-Create comes alive through the viewer. When the viewer engages his/her own creative process, as an artist, I feel deeply nourished. I feel that Re-Create has reached its purpose. Re-Create reminds us that there is an artist in all of us, that creating is part of life and that values such as creativity, imagination and play are life affirming!
MM: What is the process of creating your art and which materials do you use most?
ML: To create an Interactive painting, I mostly tap into my imagination. I have to imagine the potential of the moving shapes and what other compositions can be created out of them, and how they interact with the background. There is definitely some complexity to it. Certain life events have also been a source of my inspiration. For example, a couple of years ago, my fiancée and I were spending some time in Sri Lanka, and at some point, we were in a fancy hotel that was surrounded by ghettos. The contrast was stark and very much in my face; and it led me to create “The Growing Gap,” which looks at the growing inequalities over the last thirty years. So, my inspiration comes from a combination of my imagination and of life events. I use different materials from crackle paint, to wood, to metal. I am also pretty excited by the use of words in my work because it is thought provoking and creates contrast and interplay with the abstract visual language, bringing greater depth and meaning to the piece.
MM: You have a graduate degree in Art Therapy, so how do you think art can help ailing people recover and/or be therapeutic in general?
ML: In Art Therapy, art making becomes another avenue for the client to process, express, feel, a
nd sometimes resolve deep wounds. Art Therapy is a powerful modality especially for children because it can be easier for them to express through drawing and painting than through just talk therapy. They say, a picture tells more than a thousand words, and it is very true in Art Therapy.
MM: In April of 2018 you exhibited your “Re-Create” series at ArtExpo in NYC, so what was your experience of the show like and how did people react to your innovative art?
ML: People loved the interactive work, they had never seen anything like it. Most people were excited about being able to finally touch the art and they had a lot of fun creating their own compositions. For me it is deeply nourishing when my Re-Create art comes alive in the hands of the viewer, and there was a lot of that at the NY Art Expo. I sold three pieces, made some good contacts with galleries in NYC, Florida and Europe, and met some great interiors designers, art consultants and architects who were excited about Re-Create and totally get the potential of this novel approach to Interactive Art for
MM: What are your greatest goals for your future artistic career and the “Re-Create” series in general?
ML: I would love to see Re-Create picked up by more galleries, both commercial and public, in Canada, the US and abroad. One of my visions is to connect with corporations that create “play zones” for their employees. I believe that Re-Create would be a great fit for companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook and Pixar, that understand the importance of creating common areas for employees to relax, co-create and have fun! These companies have understood that a happy employee is a productive employee and I believe that Re-Create would be a great fit for these kinds of corporations. Secondly, I would like to create very large/wall size public art pieces where the moving pieces would be human size and would require full body engagement.
MM: Do you any exciting new art projects and/or artistic events happening soon and would you like to mention anything more?
ML: I am currently developing a new Re-Create series. There will be six 60”x40” interactive pieces inspired by the work of a famous mystic poet.