Artist of the Week: Jennifer LeFort

Jennifer Lefort (b. Montreal) holds an MFA from York University in Toronto. She currently resides in the National Capital where she has been intensely involved with AXENEO7, one of the country’s leading artist-run centers. She travelled extensively and resided in Berlin for some time thanks to the prestigious Plaskett Award. Lefort has also been in a finalist in the RBC Painting Competition. Her work has been shown in Canada and the United States and she is currently working on a project for her first European exhibition. Her work is included in notable private and corporate collections.

The artists next major solo exhibition will be at the Patrick Mikhail Gallery in Montreal in April 2015.

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Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. At it’s core, my practice is a chromatic exploration of abstract space. Through materiality and process, I explore certain dualities inherent to abstraction. I am interested in the “in-betweens” i.e. where the lines become blurred between formalism and expressionism, painting and drawing, structure and disorder, and between accidents and intuition. Lately, I have started making and showing sculpture along side my painting practice.

What are some recent or upcoming projects you are working on? Recently I worked on a really interesting in-situ project with another artist in Montreal. We both showed up at the gallery space with just our basic raw materials and developed the entire show in-situ. It worked out like a conversation between each of our practices (painting and printmaking). It was a really exciting project! I also have a solo in-situ installation coming up this spring in Ontario as well as a solo exhibition of new work at the new Patrick Mikhail Gallery space in Montreal.

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What is one of the bigger challenges you and/or other artists are struggling with these days and how do you see it developing? Finding enough space and time to make work is always a challenge. I’ve lived in three major cities over the last 15 years and it’s the same situation everywhere.

How did your interest in art begin? Making things has always been an interest. As a very young child, my dad would to tell me crazy and illogical stories and then ask me to go make a drawing based on the story. That might have been the beginning of my artistic explorations.

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If you had to explain your work to a stranger, what would you say? I make abstract work that has a strong focus on colour and is often large in scale. The lines, colours, gestures and reoccurring shapes in the work are meant to communicate between each other and create a type of abstract narrative within the work.

What materials do you use in your work and what is your process like? The paintings are a mixture of things: acrylic, oil, oil sticks, china markers and spray paint. A recent sculpture was a combination of vinyl, plaster, paint and mirror. The process for painting and sculpture is similar but they function at different speeds. I start out with an idea of what the work will look like, or what palette I will work with. From there, the shapes and elements in the work react to each other and can change the direction of the piece.

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What was the last exhibition you saw that stuck out to you? Being involved at AXENEO7 allows me the privilege to meet many artists and really get to know their work. Lisa Reihana, a New Zealand based artist, showed her video piece in Persuit of Venus this past fall. It’s amazing.

If you hadn’t become an artist what do you think you’d be doing? There were times when I tried doing other things but I was miserable. Art is it.

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What are you listening to right now? I listen to all kinds of things. My musical guilty pleasure in the studio is anything that gets my dancing- pop, hip hop, 80’s tracks…

Can you share one of the best or worst reactions you have gotten as a result of your work? I’ve seen someone tear up in front of my work. That was something.

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