Lebo Breaks Down his Postmodern Cartoon Expressionism

Sweet Salvation Lebo Park West Gallery

Sweet Salvation” (2013), Lebo

David “Lebo” Le Batard calls his innovative style “Postmodern Cartoon Expressionism,” and who better to explain it than the artist himself?

Postmodernism is a recent movement that contradicts aspects of modernism, involving movements like installation art and conceptual art. Postmodern art combines high and low culture, using pop culture imagery alongside aspects from past periods like the Renaissance and Baroque.

Ever since he was a child, Lebo studied comic strips and cartoons, finding inspiration from cartoonists like George Herriman. To him, cartoons encompass a variety of facets, including everything from Egyptian hieroglyphics to Saturday morning cartoons. He says he likes cartoons for their direct approach to telling a story.

“To me, a cartoonist is somebody who expresses themselves visually and in a very direct manner and a very approachable manner,” he says.

Over the years, he continued to expand his horizons and study all types of visual records, such as ancient iconography and indigenous art from civilizations like the Aztecs, the Sumerians and Inca.

“I consider myself a visual storyteller, so I’m trying to learn from all the different forms of visual storytelling,” he says.

Lebo says the expressionism aspect of his style comes from “pouring his heart and soul” into his art and developing his own vocabulary and storytelling methods. By expressing arts and sciences through cartoons, he gives the ideas and his interpretations a vibrant voice accessible to anyone.


Lebo’s approach to art

Lebo art style

Ancient Witness” (2015), Lebo

Lebo’s art process begins by researching a subject, whether it’s science, history, music or metaphysics, and taking notes or sketching out ideas. From there he explores the ideas and expands on them in his art.

“Within the storytelling part and narrative aspect of what I do, the research that goes into it is the cornerstone of it,” he says.

By combining esoteric subjects with imagery that draws in the eye (like his cats and owls), Lebo says he is not only able to challenge himself, but challenge the viewer and encourage them to research the meaning behind the symbols.

Lebo art cats Park West Gallery

Thanksgiving Morning” (2013), Lebo

“You can take the most obscure, weird stuff in the world and combine it all together, but if you put a cat in the middle of it, people will get engaged by it, and that’s really cool, and I don’t think there is anything wrong with that,” he says. “You have to make it identifiable to who we are today.”

As much as he loves his imagery, Lebo is just as fond of using phrases and words in his works. He says he will write down phrases he hears or reads, which he then incorporates into his paintings as subtexts that complement the art.

“By playing with lettering and handmade fonts you can actually play with the composition, so it’s just another way to tell that story and engage the viewer even more,” he says.


Spirituality and symbols

Lebo style art

Glory Glory Hallelujah” (2015), Lebo

Lebo gravitates toward stories and narratives that lean toward hope or hopefulness, an expansion of his own pursuit for more harmony and consciousness in his life. However, he prefers to let the viewer interpret their own narratives.

Similarly, he says there are overtones in his artwork that are drawn from spirituality across the ages, whether it’s Buddhism or Nordic myths. For instance, by studying the way goddesses of love are portrayed throughout mythology, he observes similarities amidst different cultures.

“It’s discovering similarities, researching them, and the themes that I want to fill my life with, so that is love, spirituality – things that I think speaks to something much higher,” he says.

Hope Springs Eternal Lebo Park West Gallery

Hope Springs Eternal” (2013), Lebo

Iconography plays a big role in Lebo’s artwork. After studying prehistoric art in school, he realized how “profoundly elegant” ancient art is, and it inspired him to research further into symbolism. Since cartoons are themselves symbols with humanistic qualities, Lebo loves to infuse his art with symbolism.

“It’s not anything I’m making up, these are things that I’m discovering, and they’re available to all of us,” he says. “Then you meet people that are also into those things and you learn more about it and you share it. There is a communion in that.”

Leave a comment

Prove you\'re human. *

Latest News

  • Park West Donation Benefits Delaware Military Personnel

    The freedom of speech and expression are critical components to art, which are just a few of the reasons Park West Gallery is proud to support those who fight to ...
    Read More
  • Pat McManus: Painting the Softer Side of Nature

    Artist Pat McManus jokes that he paints wildlife instead of people for one reason: They’re not picky.“I’ve tried painting people—you have to be very accurate with people,” McManus says ...
    Read More
  • How Wyland Became One of the World’s Biggest Marine Wildlife Artists

    As an artist, Wyland is used to working on big canvases.He first rose to fame in the 1980s painting life-size murals of whales—that’s right, life-size whales—on the sides of ...
    Read More
  • Park West’s Latest Artist Videos Attract More Than 3 Million Views, Win 3...

    There is nothing quite like watching a master artist at work and,. as it turns out, our collectors—and the filmmaking industry—agree.In 2017, Park West Gallery launched a new series of ...
    Read More
  • Matt Beyrer, Peter Max, Picasso, and More Shine in Park West’s 2018 Summer...

    Now that summer’s almost here, couldn’t you use a little more color in your life? Brighten things up with a new work of art from Park West’s 2018 Summer ...
    Read More
  • Behind the Artist: Anatoly Metlan

    Artist Anatoly Metlan is inspired by the world, so in turn, he inspires the world with art that celebrates its beauty and cultures.Born in 1964 in Yalta, a Ukrainian ...
    Read More
  • Why Animation Art is One of the Most Important Art Forms of the...

    Animation art is beloved around the world, but, if we’re being honest, it’s also underappreciated.How is that possible? How can it be adored and taken for granted at the same ...
    Read More
  • Norwegian Cruise Line’s Newest Ship Sets Sail with Unforgettable Wyland Art

    The launch of a new cruise ship is always a big deal, but the debut of Norwegian Bliss is shaping up to be an event no one will ever forget.Norwegian ...
    Read More
  • 11 Pino Artworks That Will Make You Want to Hug Your Mother

    There’s something indescribable about moms. They exude a calm comfort, this sense of maternal caring and nurturing. Even those of us with moms who are more inclined to chase us ...
    Read More
  • May 11 Is a Surprisingly Significant Day in Art History—Here’s Why

     If you Google “what happened in history on May 11,” you’ll find a lot of interesting tidbits.May 11 is the day that Alexander became Emperor of the Byzantine Empire, Christopher ...
    Read More
  • Park West CEO Albert Scaglione on the Art Market’s Obsession with Picasso

    More than 40 years after his death, Pablo Picasso continues to make headlines, and it seems like the public’s fascination with the Spanish artist is only growing.Picasso is currently the ...
    Read More
  • Shedding Light on 4 Works of Art by Thomas Kinkade

    Thomas Kinkade was one of the most collected living contemporary artists until his passing, and for good reason—he sought to enrich the lives of others with beautiful imagery that ...
    Read More