The Red Balloon / Le Ballon Rouge – 2012

This calm and innocent atmosphere hides a reference to the movie Red Balloon directed by Albert Lamorisse and shot in Ménilmontant, my neighborhood. When you take a closer look to the old facade of this cheap hotel, where you can rent a room daily or monthly, you can read above the space where you usually find the street name sign an inscription « Long live the Commune ». It refers to the events of 1871 which bloodied the district and the Père Lachaise cemetery. On the rooftop, graffitis such as Big Brother (a fictional character and dictator in George Orwell’s novel 1984), Chuck Norris (could see as a symbol of an American imperialism) and a Space Invaders are evidences of the neighborhood’s political commitment.
Weekje in de wolken:
op vleugels van
The Caravan / La Caravane – 2012

By far this caravan seems to navigate peacefully towards a clear horizon. Some romantics will see a tremendous aspiration for freedom guiding it, the Bohemian life, the children of the nature, a bear tamer, a magician, the lines of the hand, Django Reinhardt, a violin, a crystal ball, a guitar or a lifestyle who refuse to submit themselves in any authority.

Closely it’s people who are deported by force for what they are : Roma, Manouches, Gypsies, Gitans, Romanichals, Bohemians, Travellers community or Chicken thief, no matter their name, in our modern so-called societies, they are rarely welcome and arouse many fantasies. Their history is marked out by events and by persecutions. In Serbia as in Romania, many of them was slaves until 1850. Between 1933 and 1945, the Nazis and their allies persecuted, sterilized, imprisoned, tortured, shot, and finally gased about 500 000 Roma in death camps

Wandel intussen in de tuin van bijna tweeduizend paadjes: sluipwegeltjes, schaduwpaadjes, doolhofjes, strakke laantjes met bloemperken, wilde avonturen-kronkels, dreven voor trage wandelaars, steegjes en straten…enz. Kom daarna thuis in je ‘vliegend huis’ zoals de Franse fotograaf en kunstenaar Laurent Chéhère ze samenstelde.

For sale / À vendre – 2012

Sells pavilion, suburb, 120m2, 3 bedrooms, lounge, kitchen, bathroom, toilet, laundry room, no garden. Thank you to contact the owner. Client not serious please refrain.

The “Flying Houses” are a surrealistic and poetic vision of old Paris, inspired by Jules Verne, Albert Robida, Moebius, Hayao Miyazaki, William Klein, Wim Wenders, Federico Fellini, Serge Gainsbourg, Martin Scorsese, Marcel Carné, Jean Cocteau and more. These buildings are also inspired by poor and cosmopolitan neighborhood of the French capital where lives Laurent Chéhère. (Vergeet de cineast Albert Lamorisse, Le ballon Rouge, niet!)

The author isolates these buildings of their urban context and releases them from the anonymity of the street to tell the life, the dreams and the hopes of these inhabitants. The images are photomontage of hundred of elements like roof, windows, gutter, fireplace, characters, antennas, graffiti and sky, captured and assembled afterward like a puzzle. In gallery, the images are shown in large format and let the curious observer to discover details and hiden references of these accurate reconstructions by proposing a double reading, one by far and one closely. The artist uses this distance to propose a different point of view and alert against preconceived ideas and prejudices. All the ingredients are there, the comedy, the drama, the poetry, the darkness, the onirism, the laughter and the tears… everything becomes entangled. The author gives some keys, but these flying houses remain open to the interpretation, it’s finally the people who will make his own way.

Cinéma – 2012

The Pigalle district conserves in the collective memory an image of underground venues together with perverted and dirty nights. Pornographic cinemas were part of this landscape together with prostitutes and pimps. Pigalle has changed : it is no longer the territory of sex but the territory of cool nightlife and music scene. Old porn cinemas shut down and were replaced. All but one : L’Atlas. Its teasing neon lights, its suggestive display make no doubt about its « specialized » programme, as it was once modestly called. It had several lives. I gave him one more. The street sign recalls a director of many erotic films and teen movies. His films mixing more or less smutty erotism and approximate «Vaudeville».

Laurent Chéhère is a French photographer known for his commercial work for clients such as Audi and Nike. He left the advertising industry to travel the world and along the way was born his flying houses series, a collection of fantastical buildings, homes, tents and trailers removed from their backgrounds and suspended in the sky as if permanently airborne.

he Linen / Le linge – 2012

A building that has gone dry his laundry near the district of La Chapelle where it was no longer welcome.

Caught in the hustle and bustle of crowded streets, big city dwellers might not always have the time to stop and enjoy the scenery. But Laurent Chehere is giving you a reason to admire your street-side architecture. In a series titled “Flying Houses,” the artist takes images of ordinary urban and suburban residents and places them in the skies, creating captivating photographs of homes that appear to be floating through the air. Some are adorned with clotheslines and flower boxes while others are bellowing smoke and eschewing flames, but all of the houses seem to be captured mid-journey, moving above the clouds as they remain tethered out of frame. No longer hidden in the monotony of a congested street, the isolated structures become whimsical imaginations you can’t help but notice.

Dr Pierre – 2012

Time passes and clears. Here an old advertisement from the late nineteenth century for a toothpaste.

Laurent Chéhère is a french artist, born in 1972 at the foot of the parisian hill of Ménilmontant, a neighborhoods he explores with the same unceasing curiosity as he does in Bamako, Lhasa, Tokyo, Valparaiso or Srinagar. Early on his life, he was immersed in the images of popular culture. His father would make scripted holiday films with his Super 8 camera, his mother transmits the virus of drawing and his brothers was passionate by theater… and the young Laurent? He dreams in the atelier of his grand father Joseph, a house painter and typographer of a village in Normandy. To his young eyes, the place was extraordinary as Alibaba’s cave. Of course it’s not enough to be an artist but you never know!

Lost Street / Rue Disparue – 2015

This reconstruction is inspired by an iconic building, destroyed in the 70s. It was located on the top of the hill of Belleville in Paris, on the corner of the rue Piat and the rue Vilin stairs. Unfortunatelly, a large part of this popular neighborhood was razed for a questionable sanitary effort. It has been replaced since then by a public garden, without any particular charm but enjoyable at springtime. The building still lives in the work of photographers like François-Xavier Bouchart, Henri Guédard, Robert Doisneau and Willy Ronis as well as in films in which it had been used as the set : Orpheus by jean Cocteau, the Red Balloon bu Albert Lamorisse, Casque d’Or by Jacques Becker, Raids on the City by Pierre Chenal, Under the sky of Paris by Julien Divivier, The Grand Chef by Henri Verneuil and Act of Love by Anatole Litvak.

Thus, he came to spend the last 20 years traveling around the world taking photographs starting with his own city. A veritable tower of Babel where you can meet the world crossing the street. These working class neighborhoods of Paris are his playing field, his principal source of inspiration, his own point of departure and arrival. It’s here in the places, where every street corner offers an escape through the foreigners accents, the spice perfumes, the orientation of satellite dish, that he discovered a passion for travel, and for people and stories from around the world. It’s there, also, where he returns to better tell these stories. And Because his inspiration are numerous and varied, he was chosen to bring them together in these flying houses that carry their univers, their atmosphere, their history, everything that the artist wanted to put there, but also everything the public will want to see there.

The Journey / Le Voyage – 2018

From the outside, this abandoned shed seems visited only by street artists. But behind the rust, the broken tiles and the graffiti, sleeps the studio of cinéma of George Méliès, the very first one in France. If you explore more closely this « Egyptian tomb », one can discover, buried under the cobwebs and the dust, the History of Cinema. There are cameras, movie reels, masks, costumes from all ages. Tarkowski, Scorsese, Kurozawa, Bresson, Visconti, Wenders, Mallick, Pollack, Godard, Kubrick, Hitchcock, Leone, Spielberg, Truffaut, Bergman, Scorsese, Coppola, Chaplin, Fellini, Lang are all there.

Detail: From left to right, you can spot cameras used by Terrence Mallick, Orson Welles, Luchino Visconti in Rocco and his Brothers, Andrei Tartovsky in Stalker, Howard Hughes in Aviator a film by Martin Scorcese, Sydney Pollack, Akira Kurosawa, Wim Wenders in Wings of Desire, Charles Chaplin. Claude Lelouch, Georges Méliès, François Truffaut, Ingmar Bergman, Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger in Black Narcissus, Stanley Kubrick in 2001:A Space Odyssey and John Ford. In the center, the android in Metropolis by Fritz Lang. In the background, there is part of the set of 20 000 Leagues under the Sea by Georges Méliès. Bottom right, a graffiti represents Danny on his tricycle in Shining by Stanley Kubrick. On the glass door, a red inscription almost disappeared, seen in Shining too : REDRUM (MURDER). At the top left, the planet Saturn and the rocket train in the film A trip to the Moon by Georges Méliès. At the top right, the USS Enterprise from Star Trek, a flying saucer from the Invaders and hidden in the darkness, a Death Star from Star Wars.
Still Life / Nature Morte – 2013

By far, it looks like a Noah’s Ark, closely it is a little bit different. These animals are not afraid of having of the rise in the water level, they already died and stuffed at this taxidermist workshop inspired by the maison Deyrolle in Paris and some «cabinet of curiosities». On the background, behind a parrots, a monkey, an elephant, a zebra, a rabbit, a bear, a lynx and a girafe is hide someone…  also stuffed. The vanity of men trying to freeze the Death.

Ze zijn de wereld rondgegaan, de vliegende huizen. Gek dat je pas de ‘eigenaardigheden’ van een huis ziet als je het losgemaakt uit de rij. Je zou bij elk huis een verhaal kunnen vertellen. Of je eigen huis samenstellen uit onderdelen die je op het net vindt. De schoonheid van deze composities bestaat o.a. uit de zorg voor de onderdelen. Het is lang kijken wil je elk detail gezien hebben.

Le Petit Journal – 2013

Behind this immense blue advertisement for a newspaper of the end of XIXth century, you’ll see that this building is hiding a doll workshop inspired by cabinet of curiosity of XVIIIth century and artist studio of Montmartre. A young man has just pasted a poster about Coluche. He was a humourist, actor, provocator and agitator by his social pronoucements, he presented himself in the french presidentail election of 1981 against François Mitterrand.
Max – 2013

The « American Hotel » neon sign, a name synonym of modernity, is here only a souvenir of a past era and witnesses the work of time. The tourism board has lost its stars. The paint on the wall is decrepit. A closer look, and it seems dedicated to another clientele. On the first floor there is a tribute to the movie « Max and the Junkman, by Claude Sautet with Romy Schneider and Michel Piccoli, telling the impossible love story between a cop and a prostitute.
The Great illusion / La Grande illusion – 2012: From afar, it seems peaceful and free. but the title reference to Jean Renoir’s movie is a warning. Looking closer, one discovers African migrants, their hearts full of hope, sailing to a Parisian future, as unsafe and over crowded as their boat. This metaphor testifies of their odyssey and the tragedy taking place in the Mediterranean sea.

Misschien kun je ook steden, of regio’s uit hun totaliteit losmaken en ze daardoor hun specifieke eigenheid toedichten of benadrukken. Maar er komt een moment dat je weer de begane grond op moet. Dat je de opgehokten weer in het publieke leven wil zien en er zelf deel van gaat uitmaken.

he Hell and the Elephant / l’Enfer et l’Éléphant- 2017 nspired by the famous Cabaret The Hell in Montmartre and the Circus world. Destroyed in 1950, it was frequented by the Surrealists. André Breton lived just above it and organized spiritism sessions with the poet Robert Desnos in the 1920s. The owner opened another twin cabaret called «Heaven». There are many posters of french famous circus like Bouglione and Zavatta. There are references to Henry George Clouzot’s eponymous film, Eraserhead and Elephant Man by David Lynch. At the window there are masked children and the name of the street is ironically to the glory of the “deserving” people : Cockroaches and Sowbugs Street.

I’m interested in houses and buildings that people do not look at any more. I try to highlight them, to show their hidden beauty and to get out of the anonymity of the street to help them tell their stories, true or not, funny or sad.

I am interested in gypsies, African immigrants, a circus, an old erotic cinema, a little bar, a decrepit hotel, or a house in the suburbs.

In the gallery, the images are shown in large format, so that they make sense, leaving it to the curious observer to discover details (graffiti, writing, anachronism, character, window, reference to a film or a musician) and propose a double reading, a story far and another closer.

The “Red Balloon” for example, is a Parisian building and is a tribute to Albert Lamorisse’s film “The Red Balloon” shot in Ménilmontant streets in 1956. I added details like political graffiti depicting “Big Brother” – the dictator in George Orwell’s book “1984”; a mosaic of Space Invaders and above the name of the street that has been stolen, a small inscription “Vive la Commune”. This is the part of Paris saw the last barricades of Commune in 1871.

The “Circus” was inspired by a circus in northern Paris. The photo has a tribute to Fellini movie “La Strada ” and the angel played by Bruno Ganz in “Wings of Desire” by WimWenders. Perched on the shoulder of a statue and observing humans, he falls in love with a trapeze artist. In my picture, a dwarf dressed as a clown who tries to light a cigarette on the snowy roof of the tent gets the role.

The Circus / Le Cirque – 2012

Fire/En feu 2012