By DANIELLE DOUGLAS, KELSEY HANSON, and OLY ZAYAC
Photos by WESLEY LICKUS
MARRAKESH, Morocco—Even before introducing himself, Alain le Yaouanc, 76, sets off on a whirlwind monologue about the
human life and what has shaped his own. The disheveled but dignified Parisian artist, standing at the Marrakesh Biennale Art Festival between walls adorned with his large, graphic works, has been on the international art platform since the age of 17.
“I’ve been becoming better than I was,” he says, “I’ve been becoming impatient to be ten years older.” He has produced over 460 drawings in Paris since 2014 alone, and says he doesn’t create art based on any given theme, but, instead, focuses on the way he feels in the present.
Le Yaouanc, whose artistic genius has been recognized by renowned French poet Alain Bousquet, is currently showing at Matisse Art Gallery in Marrakesh as a part of the Biennale Art Festival. Throughout his career, his work has been shown alongside some of the greatest and most influential artists in the world, including Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró. A sampling of his 1960’s collection is now on exhibit at the Biennale alongside the works of artists like French-Moroccan photographer Leila Alaoui, Egyptian filmmaker Mohamed Abdelkarim and Omani contemporary artist Radhika Khimji.
The festival, founded in 2004, is an annual government-funded event lasting from February to May. It brings together international artists to, according to the Festival website, “build bridges between the cultures through the arts.”
Le Yaouanc’s art has crossed borders and been shown in locations around the globe—from Strasbourg to Warsaw to New York. Today, he lives and works out of his home studio in Paris.
“What I’m drawing?” he questions aloud when asked about his current projects. From behind his whispy gray beard, le Yaouanc replies to his own question: “What comes to my spirit. Qui vient a mon esprit.” This spirit, says le Yaouanc, has no outside inspiration nor direct path.
“Inspiration—I don’t care for this word,” he mumbles in a low, soft voice.
“What inspires me is who I am and what I feel,” le Yaouanc says. “All of that comes from within and not outside.” In this regard, the artist appears self-sustained by the art he creates—which he is producing in stride.
Le Yaouanc glances at a portrait of himself hung on the white walls of the gallery.
“It’s a very beautiful photograph,” he says pridefully, motioning towards the portrait. “You see me between watercolors and photographs.”
In the image, he is hidden among hordes of finished and unfinished pieces, barely visible in his old apartment in central Paris, from which he was evicted in 2014. “I think that it’s very good for the author to be with his work. I am able to live with all the stuff I have so I may be able to see what I did 30 and 40 years ago—it makes me think about what I’m going to do in the future.”
As for what is to come, le Yaouanc has a great deal left to create. He plans to continue to exhibit his work in the coming years, and will be not be retiring any time soon.
“So I never finish, I never begin,” he says. “C’est curieux, I’m always doing.”