Solivagant*, 53 Orchard Street, Between Hester & Grand, New York
Sebastien Leon started the ECHOES series in 2013 as an ongoing collection of paintings, drawings and sculptures. The project was born on architectural software with the design of a cage composed of one single wire running through a cluster of imbricated cubes. Representing self-imposed limitations, this three-dimensional, virtual structure serves as the central prism of the series.
Through ECHOES I, the artist uses spray paint on canvas to depict starry nights from various points of view located within the cage, as if longing for the infinite while being confined to contrived perspectives. The wires chart the sky yet separate us from its experience.
These projections transition with ECHOES II and ECHOES III to reference points situated outside of the cage, showing a process of metamorphosis. The media used here by Sebastien Leon borrow from the world of construction - plaster, tape, screws, sheetrock, aluminum studs - while some paintings become sculptures by being mounted onto bare aluminum structures.
Recorded largely live with lap steel and electric guitars, the musicians create an evocative melodic narrative that combines a strong Delta blues and folk sound, crosscut with Tibetan chanting and digital glitches.
Layers of sonic texture create a landscape that is rooted in the American South but winds through territory that resonates with the musicians’ life work, in Kaia’s case as a scholar and translator of Tibetan sacred texts, and in Sebastien's as a designer and fine artist whose drawings allude to Australian Aboriginal Songlines and charted constellations of impossible skies.
In addition to guitar, the instruments include the harmonium, drums, the human voice, and sound sculptures: the Baschet brother’sCristal Baschet - a skeletal, insect-like friction idiophone, Harry Bertoia’s Sonambiants - an assemblage of swaying totemic metals, and Sebastien’s most recent sculpture, the Carileon - a choir of tubular bells.
This music is a natural outgrowth of their first collaboration, a polyphonic sound installation: twelve hours of patterned meditative music on sculptural speakers, a mix of original tracks and field recordings by famed musicologist Alan Lomax.