“I’m sorry, but I can’t tell you lies or good stories,” Laurent Debraux begins. “I just made an exhibit for fun, with my family, during Open Doors of Artists Studios in my neighborhood. I owned a little levitation toy, and thought it would be fun to use it in the exhibit. After a little time wondering what to put on it, I decided to use cotton.”
Debraux apologizes again that he has no deeper philosophy to share. But I find the earnestness refreshing, as his slowly spinning floating cloud–or magnet wrapped in a chunk of cotton–doesn’t require deep pontification to hit you in the gut. It’s simply captivating.
“And before that, I had no art culture, had never thought of making art, and never imagined or wished to become an artist,” he continues. “So I did things that I thought were funny, and discovered great pleasure doing it, and that people liked it. As my job in computer programming wasn’t going well, I decided to continue.”
Today, Debraux works in kinetic sculpture–creative, moving mechanics that intrigue the most basic parts of our human curiosity. They use levers, pulleys, hinges, and magnetism to move shapes in fantastical, never-quite-predictable ways.
In “The Clock Is Ticking,” a deconstructed timepiece dances like a ballerina, while in “Ferrofluid,” a ferromagnetic liquid ebbs from maze-like constructions to total abstractions. Each piece seems to have a whiff of grade-school science experiment, but that’s part of the charm, elevated to high art via Debraux’s unique perspective.
“I have no abilities to draw or paint, or sculpt beautiful or meaningful things,” Debraux persists. “The only thing I know is working with movement, as I love it … Only by chance for me, what I love can make people smile.”