Meet: Wild Fox
Léon Moreau, who creates under the name Wild Fox, has their first solo exhibition in Lisbon this month. Léon is a 2017 graduate from the BA Design Management and Cultures from London College of Communication, UAL.
In their exhibition, Perceptions (21-24 September 2023), Wild Fox asks direct questions to draw the audience in, breaking down the way imagery is automatically processed.
What do you see?
What do you feel?
Wild Fox has used a forgotten printing technique from the 19th Century to create the pieces.
They spoke to us about how the unusual chain of events that led to this exhibition taking place, and how their time at LCC influenced their work.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Léon; my artistic name is W. Fox. I’m a non-binary artist from Belgium, based in London. I recently changed my legal name and it confirmed to me that my person and my practice are linked. Since affirming my identity publicly, I feel more confident in myself and my work. I’m questioning norms and biases through both mediums.
How would you describe your creative practice?
My practice is about dissecting the way humans understand, feel and perceive.
My upcoming exhibition Perceptions aims to bring people together to wonder. I hope the audience gathers and ponders ‘what do you see?’ I hope to start conversations and push forward the understanding of each unique point of view. l think the truth is in the eye of the beholder and accepting it eases debates.
You studied Design Management and Cultures at LCC. Did the course have any impact on your practice?
The course clearly pushed my critical thinking forward. The problem-solving, study of semiotics and empathy we were taught in DMC has shaped my approach. It extended my attention from the artwork to the audience and their experience. But I must admit that the hundreds of hours I spent in the print, bookbinding and dark rooms at LCC have a special place in my creative education as well.
Your first solo exhibition, Perceptions, is in Lisbon later this month. How did this come about?
Ha. That's a great question and a very long story. There were a lot of no’s, a lot of changes from the initial plan, it’s been a work of love and mental flexibility. But I’d sum it up as: sometimes you can't see your progress amid the process but every step matters.
I met the owner of O Gabinete de Madame Thao 2 years ago and our collaboration grew from selling small originals to hosting workshops and now Perceptions. The craziest part is the reason I started pitching to the Belgian Embassy (who are supporters of the exhibition). My passport was robbed years ago, and I met with the local consulate. Somehow, we started talking about my work and he suggested a commission. That project didn't work but that started a process.
The exhibition explores how things are perceived and how bias is made. What was the inspiration behind this?
Do you ever happen to have a conversation with a person who mentally sits in a different reality? I'm pretty sure everybody does. We become accustomed to controversial topics eliminated by contradicting information.
Perceptions is suggesting that we’re all biased and equally unable to prove every fact we have established as our truth. It’s not about erasing our values but our egos. Can you prove God exists? Or that He doesn't? No. But I don't think that means we can't comprehend each other. My photography blurs the lines of our reality to create a space of mutual acceptance in uncertainty.
You use a 19th-century printing technique; can you tell us more about this? What effect does it provide?
I’m using a photographic process called Cyanotype. It’s a method from 1842, chemistry that reacts with UV lights. You put a stencil on top to block the sunlight and can see the emulsion tones changing in front of your eyes, it's pretty magical. After rinsing, the print turns blue and white. This palette works great with my concept because the idea is to remove automatic reading. To go beyond a reflexed understanding by stripping away the artwork from day-to-day settings. It’s a photograph; it represents reality but what is it going to mean to your senses? There’s no correct answer, it’s what's true to you. Just like all the rest.
What else are you working on?
Since June, I’ve started giving individual and group workshops alongside the production of the exhibition. It's great to teach. I was a bit scared at first because managing to attract an audience in a country in which you don't have a community is a challenge, but it’s been fantastic. I still have 6 sessions and my exhibition then I wrap it up. Afterwards, I’ll start planning my return to London and how to expand it there.
Perceptions is on at O Gabinete de Madame Thao in Lisbon from 21 – 24 September 2023. The gallery is open every day 11am – 5pm.
Explore more of Léon’s work thewildfoxstudio.com
Follow on Instagram @wild.f.o.x