meet an artist mondayGuillaume Levy-Lambert’s path to art-making was indirect, until flashes of divine intervention revealed his strong conceptual convictions — and a universe of cosmic siblings. Co-Founder of The MaGMA Collection and Singapore’s Art Porters Gallery, Levy-Lambert is a fixture at museums and galleries globally. One day, he and his then-new boyfriend (now husband of two decades) were in Los Angeles at MOCA, checking out a selection of works by one of his favorite artists, Roy Lichtenstein. When he saw the 1962 painting Desk Calendar, his world changed forever. The pages of the eponymous blotter were open to May 21, 1962 — Levy-Lambert’s exact birthday. Only one date is circled — October 26, his partner’s birthday. In the notes is a New York phone number, which Levy-Lambert subsequently procured and through which he embarked on a years-long project interviewing the surprisingly large number of people from around the world who upon seeing the painting felt compelled to call the number for their own inscrutable reasons and not knowing what to expect.

guillaume levy-lambert

Roy Lichtenstein: Desk Calendar, 1962, oil on canvas (Collection of MOCA, L.A.)

But even then the painting wasn’t done with him yet. The initial synchronicity of the birth dates left Levy-Lambert wondering about all the other people born on May 21, 1962 — about 300,000 of them it turns out. He’s met a number of them already, including an American Jew, also gay, with a background in advertising, a love of Lichtenstein, a birthday on May 21, 1962 and a beloved grandmother born on October 26. And there are so very many more like him, that now, for his and their collective 60th birthday, Levy-Lambert is throwing a party for all his Cosmic Siblings. Through an online portal and the magic of Facebook Live and Zoom, he’s been spreading the world, encouraging people who share the birthday and their loved ones to show up online and if they can even in person on Saturday, May 21 to explore the joyful mystery of the art-driven coincidence, a sense of its deeper meanings and the power of art to create unlikely communities, and even the power of destiny.

Guillaume Levy-Lambert: Evidence

When did you first know you were an artist?

Rather late in life, when a friend told me.

Back in 2007, I was on the phone with an artist friend of mine in New York City. I shared an idea — how I planned to transform my own art collection into a medium through which to tell The Calendar Story, the story of the collectors.

“You are an artist,” said my friend. I was stunned, and took a few seconds to process his statement and to respond, “Yes, you are right.”

This part of the journey culminated with Fairy Tales — selections from The MaGMA Collection, an exhibition in 2010. It traveled to Paris in 2014.

What is your short answer to people who ask what your work is about?

Documenting divine providence. You can learn more [in my TEDx Talk telling the story from the beginning] here.

What would you be doing if you weren’t an artist?

Studying to be a rabbi or running Art Porters Gallery full time.

Did you go to art school? Why/Why not?

No. I went to business school and had two corporate careers, totaling a quarter of a century before coming out as an artist.

What is your connection to L.A.?

L.A. holds a special place in my heart as it is where Roy Lichtenstein’s Desk Calendar resides. Lichtenstein created this painting for me. For a sample of the story you can watch Evidence, a five minute film I created in 2016 for the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco. I’ll share more on May 21, 2022 — anyone can sign up for the global video call via the Facebook Live event.

Guillaume Levy-Lambert: Le Repos Rouge, from Le Secret Sacre, 2019, archival print on ILFORD smooth rag, 62.5 x 100cm (Image courtesy of Art Porters)

When was your first show?

Le Secret Sacré which I presented in 2020, I had started working on it in 2007.

When is/was your current/most recent/next show or project?

My current focus is on a performance planned for Saturday, May 21, 2022, when I will connect with my Cosmic Siblings from around the world. The event, created for all those born on May 21, 1962 will be a special, unifying, global art piece that transcends language, geography or socioeconomic status. A project crafted around a date in time that promises to bring together brand new sexagenarians.

What artist living or dead would you most like to show or work with?

Roy Lichtenstein! The 2010 and 2014 exhibitions of The MaGMA Collection included reproductions of Desk Calendar.

Do you listen to music while you work? If so, what?

Sometimes! Opera, or dance music!

Website and social media handles, please!

21may1962.com

cosmicsiblings.com

IG @cosmicsiblings

May 21st Facebook Live event

 

LA Weekly