Leroy Brothers interview on BDRtist – B-there magazine by Bethan Ryder
Belgian brothers Leroy are the innovative duo behind the online artistic enterprise the Leroy Brothers. We hear more about their hometown and the unique concept behind their art.
01 Where do you live?
Ghent. We were born here, we strayed for a while but we came back. We live in the middle of the old city, which is full of medieval buildings. The surroundings don’t look very contemporary but the people are. Although it’s very small there’s a lot going on. The music scene is particularly vibrant.
02 What would you recommend a visitor to Ghent do?
Visit Gentse Feesten, a summer festival where for two weeks the whole city parties. It has become very touristy but if you manage to hook up with some locals they’ll take you to all the best places.
03 Tell us about your art project
We were looking for answers to the eternal question What’s next for art? Rather than just focusing on the art itself we thought we should change the system and question the relationship between creator, inspiration, artist and craft. We’ve changed these roles by creating a machine that autonomously produces art. At the heart of it is an internet platform where creative people can submit short statements and pictures. These submissions are rated and every 100 hour the best ones are selected and mashed up into one new image. That image is sent to studios in China, where it’s painted onto canvas then shipped back to us.
04 How do you find the contributors?
It’s by word of mouth on the net. Anyone can subscribe.
05 What’s it like working together?
We think and create together it’s always been like that. We’ve been working together professionally since 1997 and doing the digital work for the past two to three years. Our artist name is Leroy Brothers, and it covers the work we do.
06 Where do you like to see art?
London, New York, Berlin and Paris and we’re currently planning a trip to Shanghai and Beijing. We like London’s East End galleries, especially those on Vyner Street, and Modern Art from Stuart Shave. In Berlin there are lots around the Auguststrasse and the Zimmerstrasse,Wohnmaschine and Arndt & Partner to name just a couple.
07 Which fellow artists do you admire?
We like Jeff Koons, not because of his art, but his very corporate way of working is really amazing, and he’s not hiding it. He works with, like, 200 assistants. We use assistants too, they translate our digital images onto canvas so we recognise ourselves in how he works.
08 So the process is the important part?
Definitely. Everything is outsourced, including our inspiration and all the production, which somehow makes the system itself actual and alive. Who is the artist now? What is his role? These are important questions. Is it the people posting pictures, the people whose work is included in the paintings, the Leroy Brothers, our team in China, or ourselves? There are several creative parties involved in the production of one piece, so who is who?
09 It sounds quite democratic
Anyone can be a part of the creative process so it’s very democratic indeed. One thing to note about our work is that it’s not a critique on any system of production; we use the internet, globalisation and the Chinese studios as tools. To some people this may seem controversial but we believe in using what today’s world offers us. We are all about raising questions on broader issues.
10 Which six people would you invite to a dream dinner party?
Andy Warhol cause we miss him. And Johnny Cash because he’s such an intriguing character. We’d also have Steve Rubell to keep the party going, Paris Hilton to see how if Warhol would like her, Larry Flint for the provocation, and Louis XIV to pay. We would go to Restaurante El Poblet in Denia on the Costa Blanca, and our guests could bring their whole entourages with them. After all, Louis is footing the bill!
11 Which is your favourite Ghent restaurant?
Clochard de Luxe (18 Ottogracht, tel. +32 (0)9 269 08 08) is a small place near us that serves good honest Belgian and French dishes. For nice Italian food we like Aperto Chiuso (82 Sleepstraat, tel. +32 (0)9 233 72 64). But for really exquisite food in a superb location we travel out of Ghent, to Benoit & Bernard De Witte (52 Beertegemstraat, Zingem, tel. + 32 (0) 476 685769). It’s run by a great young chef and his brother.
12 Which is your favourite Ghent bar?
Before dinner we meet up at Marimain (17 Walpoortstraat). It’s simple but that’s what we like about it. For after dinner we like a couple of bars at the Vlasmarkt, Charlatan and Jos, and there are other good ones around the Beestenmarkt. Then there’s a new place called Make-up Club (51 Ketelvest, www.make-up-club.be), which always has a strong sense of the next hot thing in music. We must also mention Culture Club (174 Afrikalaan, www.cultureclub.be), which was once proclaimed the best club in Europe. It used to be where the famous 2manydj’s – two brothers from Ghent, like us – were resident DJs.
13 What is your motto?
Brand your lifestyle.