Hubert Le Gall's work is a bold combination of sophistication and playfulness. He is a fixed star on the international design scene, he exhibits and sells his work globally.
Inspired by the likes of Salvador Dali, Jean Cocteau, the Surrealists and Max Ernst, Le Gall introduces humour and beauty into everyday life. When you step through the doors of French self-taught artist-designer Hubert Le Gall’s atelier in Montmartre in Paris, you feel as if you’ve stepped into Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland or a Dali painting, entering into a strange new world where everything has been turned upside down and nothing is what it seems. The vision is playful, the shapes unusual, the proportions oversized, the materials luxurious, and there’s always the recognizable hint of childhood. The works are at once familiar and unfamiliar: there are chamomile commodes, rabbit ear armchairs, dog lights, bull cabinets, sheep dressing tables, giraffe chimneys, raindrop mirrors and skull sculptures. There are even mice running up and down a room divider, Pinocchio who cut off his nose with a saw that has morphed into a leafy branch and stuck it into a console, foam bubbling out of an armoire and a chained yeti disguised as a table lamp.
Le Gall surrounds himself with creations stemming from his overflowing imagination, which lie somewhere between contemporary art and decorative object. Viewers are often left wondering if it’s a sculpture or a piece of furniture, only to realize that it really doesn’t matter in the end for Le Gall himself refuses to choose between the labels of artist and designer. He admits, “I don’t see myself as a designer because I have more an artistic approach than a design approach. But do I see myself as an artist? I don’t know because I make decorative art; I don’t paint. I always say that I am a creator of furniture. I am more an artist than a designer. That’s why I’m more interested in the world of art than the world of decoration.”
Having originally started in portraiture, Le Gall’s artistic leanings are evident in his furniture and object designs infused with humour and illusion, all rooted in a rigorous quality of execution and exquisite finishes. Taking a classic and adding a twist, his furniture stands outside of established conventions and speaks to the emotions, inviting viewers to reconsider their perception of it.
While borrowing freely from the art world, Le Gall also injects a functional dimension: Andy Warhol’s Flowers becomes a daisy table, Roy Lichtenstein’s Sunset becomes a bookshelf, Jean-Pierre Raynaud’s Pot becomes two comfy armchairs in the shape of a bisected flowerpot containing a green plant. Never working with established furniture manufacturers, he eschews mass production intrinsic to the design industry, instead favouring making objects in extremely small series of eight or 25 – echoing the craftwork of yesteryear when artisans made one-off objects – and taking a hands-on approach in their manufacture.
He explains, “It’s a choice that I made very early on to limit my work because what I’m doing is not necessarily design but something closer to sculpture, so I wanted to stay within numbering that is unique to sculpture. Also, when I was young, I was already selling objects in bronze that were pricey, so I told my clients it was because it was just a unique piece or series of eight. Creating rarity was my way to compensate for the fact that it was expensive. I made the right decision because today when things come back for sale at auction, it is because they are rare that they continue to sell well.”
Hubert Le Gall
Patinated bronze and leather sheath
150 x 90 x 30 cm