San Francisco resident and France native, Alexis Laurent seeks to capture this marriage of art, nature and urban landscapes in his contemporary works. He molds dark metal into soft organic shapes, attaches plants to iron beams or combines all three on rough patches of asphalt. His paintings complete this vision with soft cubic shapes, blurring lines and organic colors. Laurent contemplates spaces much like an architect. He sees the merging of industrial and organic elements as a natural way to bring art to cities and make art part of the urban landscape.
As anyone who has visited France knows, one of the most quintessential experiences is admiring the Art Nouveau influences on Paris’ cityscape, from the famed Eiffel Tower to the intricate iron handrails on staircases. When Laurent was a little boy growing up in the French countryside, he helped his father build their home with his bare hands. It was that experience and years spent assisting his artist parent’s in their metalworking workshop that laid the early foundations of a career as an internationally recognized painter, sculptor, and self-described “urbanist.”
After graduating with International Relations degrees from Institut d’Etudes Politiques in Paris, France, and the University of Wisconsin, Laurent enjoyed a successful business career. But he realized that the business world was not for him. So, he took his American wife and daughter and moved them back to France for three years to paint and nourish his passions.
Upon his return to America, he bought an abandoned sweatshop warehouse in the San Francisco's gritty Mission District and transformed it into his personal studio and gallery. Inside, an entire living wall of iron and dessert plants dominates one gallery wall, and a giant conceptual saw made entirely of wood greets visitors at the entrance.
Laurent is adamant that the world must adapt to the idea of cities as landscapes and even works of art. While he acknowledged that it’s taken centuries for European cities to reach that point, he thinks that it is imperative to achieve this quickly in the United States. For Laurent, it’s not a question of artistic pride but rather an elegant solution to the problem of rapid urbanization and population growth, so that future generations may enjoy their surroundings.