Welcome To The Fantastical World of Hubert Le Gall

Through his surrealistic furniture pieces, Hubert Le Gall seamlessly weaves fantasy into reality
Reading time 7 minutes

For the first time, Hubert Le Gall: Welcome to My World brings the renowned works of the eponymous French artist-designer to Asia. Presented at Mazel Galerie, Le Gall’s creations appear to be caught in the act of metamorphosis, with animals cleverly disguising themselves as objects that can slip into your home without anyone so much as batting an eye. On one corner is a table whose leg merges seamlessly with the tail of a resting dog; on the other, an ostrich masquerades as a floor lamp, its head peeking out from beneath the lampshade.

There is definitely a whimsical quality to his work, but appearances are where that playfulness ends: mostly made of bronze (“the medium of the sculptor”), the furniture pieces boast a contrasting seriousness in their impeccable craftsmanship. This, and the fact that Le Gall chooses to make objects in extremely limited productions of eight or 25 pieces, is what makes his furniture a prized possession for collectors all around the world.

This begs the question: Do Le Gall’s works fall under art or design?

Their creator is clearly interested in the former: Before furniture-making, Le Gall pursued studies in portraiture, and he cites Surrealists such as Salvador Dali and Max Ernst as influences.

The 57-year-old also references the art world frequently. In fact, one of his most famous creations is a reproduction of Andy Warhol’s Flowers screenprint, remade into a side table with stems for legs. (Le Gall has revived the out-of-production item exclusively for his solo show in Singapore, this time for limited edition sets featuring our national flower – the orchid.)  On the other hand, Le Gall’s objects are undeniably clever in terms of functionality, as one would expect from a designer. 

The man himself eschews labels, content with simply being “a creator of furniture”. Thanks to his boundless creative spirit, he has, in the past, transformed himself into an interior designer for Dior, or a scenographer for Hermès. Through his furniture, however, Le Gall has managed to create a world to truly call his own, one that seamlessly blends fantasy into reality and where nothing is quite as it seems. 

Below, we delve deeper into the mind of the creator. 


How would you define the difference between an artist and a designer?

I’m not sure of that. I think it’s too easy to say one person is a designer, and another is an artist. I can say that even a couturier who makes clothes can be an artist. Of course, you can say everybody is an artist, but I don’t think it’s true. I think it depends on the way you make things. I think that there is a function behind design. I don’t say I’m an artist. I just say I’m not a designer because I think I have an artistic way to create, because I’m not thinking about the final product or the function. 


You’ve listed Salvador Dali and Max Ernst as influences. Why does Surrealist art appeal to you?

I am quite inspired by Surrealist and Nouveau Réalisme artists who take things from reality and transform it into art. I like this idea that things are not like you think they are. For example, I like to cross animals with things because it gives you a different emotion. You transform your reality by your emotions.


right: "Zoa, The Fisherman" (2016), patinated bronze

You started out with portraiture and painting. What drew you to furniture designing?

When I stopped my studies, I started to paint because it was the easiest way for me to express my emotions. I decided to make portraits because it has a lot of things mixed together. It has to be a little bit of reality, it has to be something very personal, it has to express an emotion, so it was difficult – I like that. 

At that time, I was new and I needed to earn money. I would deliver my paintings to clients, and they would ask, “Oh, do you know where I can find a nice table?” or, “Do you know where I can find a chandelier for myself?” And I would I say, “I will do it for you.” And then I did. 

"I think I felt more free with furniture. I like art totale, which means that everything can be art; a table can be a piece of art. Everybody has a judgment on paintings, but with furniture, people just say, 'Oh, I like this table, I’ll buy it!' It’s more personal. Sometimes art is so scrutinized that people don’t know if they really like it personally or because they’re told that it’s nice." - Hubert Le Gall

Besides nature and art, what else are you inspired by?

Everything can inspire me. Human creations from the past inspire me. Frankly, those from the present also do, but I try to “protect” myself from them because I don’t want to end up doing the same things. Right now, I’m looking at a lot of exhibitions and I’m also working as a scenographer. I like to see what was the inspiration of the artists of the past and try to do it differently. I think that artists of the past were more cultured than us. They learned the stories, the history, the mythology, all those things. I like to interpret all those inspirations because I think it’s full of surrealism. Mythology is a kind of surrealism; it’s kind of a vision of the world but with a story behind it. 


What are your plans for 2018?

I have a few upcoming exhibitions; one’s in Paris in May, the other is in New York in June. They will be sort of like a retrospective, but mostly for my new works. I have a lot of special orders for my furniture, too, for clients who want, say, a chandelier or a table. I’m also a scenographer for an exhibition in France and all over the world. I have maybe 10 exhibitions to organize, so I’m full of projects. 


Hubert Le Gall: Welcome To My World will run until 25 March 2018 at Mazel Galerie Singapore, Pacific Plaza, 9 Scotts Road, 10 am to 9 pm daily. Admission is free.

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