Léo Dorfner

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A Thoroughly Modern Rebellion: Léo Dorfner

original version here

Worlds collide in the work of Léo Dorfner; we see high art, mythology and popular media combine to create an azure-inked cacophony of cultures. Dorfner, a Parisian native, was educated at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris and has shown in France, Germany and (just to keep things eclectic) South Korea.

Dorfner's work acts as a crystallization of today. Just as we exist in a society balancing on the thin line between progress and tradition, Dorfner's art brings together the past and present in exciting and, often, humorous ways (it is difficult not to let out an amused exhale at a mickey mouse tattoo on the cheek of Andromaque). There is a quiet rebellion running through his work that manifests itself as a obvious product of the time; the idea that Dorfner chooses to corrupt established forms through graffiti and photo manipulation is impossible to sever from the images created by the instagram-generation. With the introduction of social media (and a consequential deterioration of attention span) satire has shifted from the written form to images; a meme now holds as much weight as the Borowitz report when critiquing current events. Dorfner's art sits on this spectrum of social satire, sliding to opposite poles with every new work.

His creative process also lends itself to be considered thoroughly modern. When asking about his source of inspiration, Dorfner responded: "It depends also of the moment, for example I always have a camera on me, so when I see something interesting, I shoot it. Sometimes I use the photo as a photo, sometimes, I incorporate it in paintings. I also spend a lot of time searching photos on the internet, that feeds my process of creation, and is a part of my painting work, which is made of different layers; made of different kinds of pictures, found on the internet or that I shot or not, realistic or not, logo or just text."

The immediacy of inspiration is a 21st century luxury. At the tap of a few keys we access streams of images and text that we can corrupt and shape to fit any artistic purpose. Dorfner, though heavily infested in the technological aspects of art does, on occasion, turn to his environment for inspiration (being an artist in city of light, it is almost sacrilegious not to consider the Parisian landscape in your work). He writes: "I consider myself as a sponge, I reuse a lot of things I found, and in my drawings on antique prints, you can see many times 'Paris ', or 'PSG' (football team from Paris) or a lot of signs from my home. I was born in Chinatown, and I still work there, so I use very often the logo of Tsingtao, a Chinese beer, that can be seen and drank everywhere. I also look a lot of tattoos for this kind of work, especially vintage. And of course, I see many exhibitions and work from other artists, from classic paintings to minimal sculpture."

Léo Dorfner, as an artist of the technological age, sits comfortably in the chasm of colliding cultures and time. He, and his creative process, is the centre of a graffiti-sprawled Venn diagram that is impossible not to appreciate.


Los mundos colisionan en la obra de Léo Dorfner; vemos bellas artes, mitología y cultura popular combinadas para crear una cacofonía de culturas. Dorfner, un parisino nativo, se formó en la Escuela Nacional Superior de Bellas Artes de París y ha mostrado su obra en Francia, Alemania y Corea del Sur.

Las obras de Dorfner actúan como una cristalización del presente. Vivimos en una sociedad que se balancea entre la fina línea del progreso y la tradición; las obras de Dorfner juntan el pasado y el presente de una manera emocionante, y a menudo, humorística (es difícil no encontrar divertido un tatuaje de Mickey Mouse en la mejilla de Andrómaca). Existe una silenciosa rebelión en sus obras que se manifiesta como un obvio producto del tiempo. Dorfner escoge corromper formas establecidas a través del grafiti y la manipulación de fotografías, esta idea es imposible de desvincular de las imágenes creadas por la generación de Instagram. Con la aparición de las redes sociales la sátira se ha transformado de la forma escrita a las imágenes; un meme tiene tanta importancia hoy en día, como la reseña de Borowitz cuando critica eventos actuales. El arte de Dorfner se centra en el espectro de la sátira social, pasando por polos opuestos con cada nueva obra.

Su proceso creativo también se presta a ser considerado completamente moderno. Cuando le preguntas al artista por su fuente de inspiración, Dorfner responde: “Depende del momento, por ejemplo, yo siempre llevo una cámara encima y cuando veo algo interesante, lo capturo. A veces utilizo la foto como foto, a veces la incorporo en los cuadros. También paso mucho tiempo buscando fotos en Internet, lo que alimenta mi proceso de creación y es una parte de mis cuadros.”



Hannah Brattesani