As an artist in demand from the publishing market having worked as an illustrator for a number of years, Delphine Lebourgeois is used to designing book covers within strict guidelines, and in 2011 she released a body of work that playfully subverts the boundaries of these commissioned jobs. By using books’ original designs as starting points, mainly those with predominantly typographic covers, she then adds her own drawings, digital collage and printed material, which are worked on over a long period of time until a global architecture emerges; this ‘simmering’ process of the continuous changing of the images is a very important part for the artist. Generally there is no connection between the book title and Lebourgeois’ added imagery; in most cases, Lebourgeois doesn’t read the book before making the works, and so the content of the story is laid aside in an attempt to create another story altogether, which in turn opens a discrepancy between words and visuals, leaving it to the viewer to create their own links and associations. In the elegant Le Moulin De La Galette, circus acrobats appear as astronauts floating within a chandelier, and in a playful Charlotte Lowenskold a hair pin grows into a fishing rod.
Her latest body of work is a series of digital collages titled "Déesses", which translates to Goddess in French. Intuitive and fuelled with romantic visions, Lebourgeois' images are collages in their making as well as in the way the ideas are built: incongruous elements play with each other and grow organically into a beautiful and surreal universe. Delphine is fascinated by hats and other head-dresses and many of her figures are adorned by a piece of eccentric millinery, sometimes no less than a fragment of land or a genealogy tree. These headpieces act as poetic metaphors hinting at the subject’s emotions, dreams and aspirations.
Following "Army" and “Déesse V - Nine Goodbye Kisses", her latest collages explore the discrepancy between narrative and decorative. Exploring the process of repetition, all the characters in these two images have the same bodies (literally cut and pasted), while the heads are different. Lines and colours are layered and entwined in a rich and colourful graphic ‘lace’ which in some parts become nearly abstract; any break in the pattern acting as a door for a story to enter.
The artist states: “In my images, patterns are disconnected from their usual meaning-free connotations, suddenly bearing the weight of uniqueness and ceasing to be all ‘together’. Their role is to reunite the ornamental with the conceptual, to bring together the specifications of the purely decorative with the original qualities of story telling. Furthermore, by taking the pattern out of its usual decorative context and mixing it with other unique elements, my aim is to give it a meaning...maybe an allusion to the obsessional nature of the creative process”
Born in 1976, Delphine Lebourgeois is a graduate of Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts de Lyon in her native France and Central St Martins, London. She has been working in the British capital as an artist and illustrator for more than ten years, and clients have included The Guardian, Penguin Books, Orion, Harper Collins, Philosophie Magazine, Faber, Bloomsbury and many more in the UK and abroad. London solo shows include "Amazons and Other Stories" (Coningsby Gallery, 2009), and more recently “Over the Cover" (Frameless Gallery, 2011). In 2009 she won the Images 29 Critics Award and in November 2011 was one of four artists nominated by public vote for the Club Monaco Emerging Artist Award.