François “Fanch” Ledan is an exceptional painter and printmaker. In following essay—taken from the book “Fanch: The Graphic Work”—art scholar Eleanor Hight, Ph.D. provides an excellent history of [...]
Francois “Fanch” Ledan
The art crafted by Fanch Ledan, known today primarily by his Breton nickname “Fanch,” is inextricably tied to the events of his life. While a student in Paris at the Ecole Superieure des Sciences Commerciales in 1968, Fanch’s artwork was accepted by several galleries and major European exhibitions. He soon abandoned commercial design in favor of full-time studies in painting and fine art. In 1972 he entered the MBA program at Sacramento State University and started to display his original acrylic paintings in galleries in California and New York.READ MORE +
In 1975, after he learned the difficult technique of lithography, his first edition of lithography was published by Tallandier in Paris. He is noted for delightful scenes of his native Brittany and locales from around the world, executed in a colorful “primitive” or “naïve” style.
Fanch creates imaginary scenes that run the gamut from worldly and exotic destinations to intimate interiors. His interior scenes, dubbed “interiorscapes,” often feature hanging paintings of the artists he most admires – a way for him to pay homage to their influences on his own art. He also occasionally takes commissions from his collectors for their favorite works to be displayed inside each piece, a way of personalization. Travelling is how Fanch gets most of his inspiration for these scenes and, so far, he’s reached more than 100 countries.
Both his landscapes and interiorscapes have a romantic mood and beckon the viewer to enter them. He tries to express both a sense of whimsy and technical detail in each scene. Fanch will often create combinations of locations that cannot exist in reality, like a view of the Taj Mahal or the Pyramids of Egypt from an elegant private balcony. His works feature a remarkable sense of detail and subtlety regarding color, as well.
Fanch does not paint the human form within his compositions, civilization is always present, felt from the remnants of a once-occupied space. A pair of eyeglasses, a coffee cup, or other human articles can often be spotted, signifying a human presence.
His technique is similar to a draftsman or an architect, drawing first in pencil on his canvas laid flat on a drafting table. Once everything is drawn in pencil, he uses a large brush to paint the background then smaller brushes to fill in all the details. He never uses a palette knife or an easel. His Mediterranean studio is a calm place of creativity. Facing south with plenty of space and a quiet simplicity, Fanch likes to use his studio to paint two or three paintings at a time. He keeps smaller works on the falls of the space and occasionally feels moved to touch-up paintings more than 20 years old. To him, they are never finished. His choices are made instinctively, especially when choosing colors, and he can’t always explain why.
Fanch’s talent and achievement in painting were quickly recognized by critics abroad and his work was accepted by the two major European exhibitions: the prestigious “Salons des Artistes Francaises” and the “Salon des Peintres temoins de leur temps.” Fanch became involved with printmaking in 1973 when he learned the difficult technique of lithography in Paris, and later, serigraphy, which became his preferred choice for the creation of original prints.
Over the next few years he would work in a number of highly respected printing studios in San Francisco, London, New York, Melbourne, Los Angles, Paris, and Tel-Aviv. His prints have been distributed by major publishers around the world: Original Print Collectors Group, Circle Gallery, Brentano’s, Hammer Publishing, Christie’s Contemporary Art, De Francony, Okuda Art, Blinder Fine Art Collectors, and Park West Gallery.
In 1980, he met Armand Hammer in New York, who started collecting his paintings. His artwork is also in the collections of Jacques Cousteau, Baron Bich, Jack Nicholson, John Williams, and Prince Albert. Fanch has done paintings and projects for major organizations and companies like the U.S. Air, Air France, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Tokyo Dome, HAVAS, Esso Exxon, and Yokohama.
Since 1973, Fanch has had more than 51 shows including exhibitions at the Pantechnicon Gallery, San Francisco; Centrao d’Arte Naivo, Milan; Galerie Malle, Aurray, France; Champs-Elysees, Paris; and Park West Gallery. He has participated in group shows in Germany, France, Venezuela, and Italy, as well as in the United States.
Following the publication of the book “The Collected Works of Fanch Ledan,” a major catalogue raisonné was published. With 235 color pages illustrating 258 different graphic works published since 1975, it was released by Park West Gallery in 2003.