Eléonore (born in Belgium) & Kenny (born in the French Caribbean) are a European art duo who collaborate on art, zines, prints, apparel and a whole lot more.
With their aesthetic combining pop art, outsider art and underground comics into something entirely its own – A grotesquerly beautiful hyper colour world, not dissimilar to our own, were mutants and other human-esque figures engage in activities such as watching TV, riding monster trucks, hunting with axes and engorging themselves on bodily delights.
Their work perfectly mashes Eléonore & Kenny’s distinct styles into something entirely its own – And we absolutely adore it!
Explaining how they first came to collaborate, Eléonore & Kenny note,
“It was a year and a half ago, in the cabin where Kenny’s cousin lives, in the middle of the woods of south-western France.
We had pens time and foie-gras pizzas!
Before this shared artistic practice, Kenny would essentially write poetry and Eléonore played music.“
Wanting to get to know them better, we sent them some questions to answer over email.
You can read our interview with Eléonore & Kenny below…
Names + Dates of birth
Kenny Ozier-Lafontaine: 8 September 1988.
Eléonore Kenis: 17 April 1988.
What City, State and Country do you each currently call home?
Kenny: Somewhere blurry between my bed and the water closet.
Eléonore: My birthday.
What City, State and Country are you each originally from?
Kenny: Fort-de-France, Martinique.
Eléonore: Bruxelles, Belgique.
Please describe some memories – such as art, relationships, adventures, study, concerts, romance, politics, work, crime, religion… ANYTHING really – from the stages of each of your lives noted below:
* Age 5 – beginnings:
Kenny: I wake up in a room that’s not mine. It is the guest room, plunged into total darkness. It’s located on the ground floor when the room I share with my sister, as well as that of my parents are on the first floor.
It is late at night, everyone is sleeping and I feel I’m at what appears on a child’s scale to be kilometers from the protective shelter that is my bed.
I am very afraid.
To this day, only sleepwalking or extraterrestrials seem to offer parts of answer to this mystery.
Eléonore: Some kid named Marco holds me prisoner in a playground’s equipment that looks like a bad, faded, plastic piece of 70s utopian architecture. He’s after the bracelet my mom gave me the days before. Of course he is: the bracelet has cool little silvery fox terriers dangle charms on it (that looked quite like the ones on the straps of the bumbags we made with Kenny).
Marco says I must give it to him, because, and I quote him, “It’s a cop’s bracelet”.
Sadly, I was too frail and shy to argue otherwise.
* Age 10 – continuations:
Kenny: I’m seeing my cat Caramel being eaten alive by ants the day me and my family move out in a new house.
My mom says it never happened but I remember it very clearly.
Eléonore: Sometime in June ’98, in a different playground, lacking of attention (I guess), I pretended to stumble and to hit my head on the ground.
One thing leading to another, I was what one would call “overtaken by events”: I was led to an ambulance on a stretcher, then to the emergencies and I stayed in the hospital for ten days because as if it wasn’t enough, I insisted on pretending I didn’t know how to read anymore.
I did avoid passing the final exams that year, hehe.
* Age 15 – getting serious:
Kenny: I’m in school, fighting with a classmate just before the BAC exam (French equivalent to the A levels). We trip on the ground and he rips his only good pants on the knee.
He passes the exam and dies a few days later in a motorcycle accident.
Eléonore: I’m in the subway on my way to school when a weird, puppet-looking old lady sits in front of me. As I am vaguely looking through the window and at the window reflection, I notice she seems very agitated.
Looking closer, I figure out she’s actually mimicking me in a very grotesque, exaggerated way: I cross my legs, she crosses her legs, I touch my hair, she touches hers while making all sorts of simpering and looking really pissed off at the same time.
Then she gets up and before getting off of the wagon, she sticks her head in between the two seats facing me and vociferates: “WITCH!” before running away.
If anything, I think she was.
* Age 20 – young adult:
Kenny: Back when I was studying filmmaking, I happened to have the keys to my school building. At night, I’d bring my raver friends (who had ravers names like Mushroom, Fist and Siro) and we’d eat the principal’s meals that we would pilfer in the cold room of the canteen.
I was fired twice permanently, but I kept on squatting school.
The second time around, the school called my parents and offered a version in which I sold drugs in school and brought tramps in.
Eléonore: I worked in a Christian bookstore near my childhood home for a few months while in college. Nowhere else have I crossed paths with so many peculiar people.
There was one guy who was convinced he was Jesus (“Look through my nostrils, you’ll see it’s so very obvious!”), buying dozens of plastic glow-in-the-dark rosaries and then Father Samuel, a Syriac Orthodox controversial monk-priest, always accompanied by two restless little old ladies carrying the many books he’d buy, severe and devoted, with their handkerchiefs matching the Father’s outfit.
There was a woman who was persistently trying to make the staff come clean with the fact they were hiding the books she was looking for before her arrival, Pope Francis groupies…
It was all a true source of inspiration.
* Age 25 – adult mode:
Kenny: When I was 23, I met Fernando Arrabal. He then regularly invited me to read poetry at his place. He wrote the preface to my first poetry collection.
When he invited me for the first time, just before going there I fell into an acute paranoid delirium and called my parents, in the grip of a panic attack, persuading myself I would most certainly die on the train ride to Paris. My father convinced me to go anyway. Meeting Arrabal was a founding moment in my relationship to creation.
Eléonore: I tried fried croquettes vending machines.
* Age 30 – meanderings:
Kenny: One day with a friend, we found pistol bullets in the street in Marseille, so we put them in an envelope with a note: “We know where you live” and threw it randomly into a mailbox.
Two seconds later, when the giggle was gone, the most Christian guilt seized me, I imagined all the harm I was likely to do, and I couldn’t do anything, impossible to go back!
Life holds, somewhere, this HORRIBLE farce, I believe. And we have to live with it!
With all the magic, with the laugh of the madman, with the cruelty and all this terror, and our regrets.
When and why did you two first start collaborating?
… and any pivotal moment (s) / influence(s)?
When: It was a year and a half ago, in the cabin where Kenny’s cousin lives, in the middle of the woods of south-western France.
Why: Because we had pens time and foie-gras pizzas!
Before this shared artistic practice, Kenny would essentially write poetry and Eléonore played music.
“Vivement l’été, pourvu qu’il neige.”
(“Roll on summer, let’s hope it snows.”)
– Eli Yaffa.
“Frappez fort. Comme pour réveiller un mort.”
(“Knock loudly to wake the dead.”)
– Jean Eustache.
(The director shot himself in the heart in 1981 and that’s what was written on the sign he had pinned on the door.)
Please describe your usual artistic process – from initial idea, to creation, and eventual completion?
First, Kenny draws one or several very ugly faces. He draws fast, without pre-sketching.
Then, together, we invent a world around those ugly faces. Eléonore draws the main part of the background scenery. She draws slowly and sketches everything first. Kenny draws a few others background elements that’ll give a rawer edge.
For the last step we decide of a palette and then color simultaneously, nudging a lot.
Who are some of your favorite artists, musicians and writers?
…and what is it about their works that so inspire and move you?
Our shared esthetic is built on the influences of many artists: Hergé, Akira Toriyama, Matt Groening, Robert Crumb, Walt Disney and Van Beuren Studios, the 80s punk/underground French scene: Pascal Doury, Bruno Richard, Captain Cavern, Olivia Clavel, Placid, Pierre Ouin, Y5/P5, Stéphane Blanquet, Pakito Bolino, Mattt Konture, most of the artists edited by Le Dernier cri and United Dead Artists (Catherine Ursin, Stéphanie Ssoleil, Evelyne Postic, David Ortsman, Abraham Diaz, Angela Dalinger, Jacques Flechmuller etc.)
Writers: Cervantes, Réjean Ducharme, Burroughs, Ginsberg, K.Dick, Beckett, Artaud, Castaneda, Sylvia Plath, Serge Pey, Jean Genet, Michaux, Berkeley, Nietzsche, Maeterlinck, Emily Bronte.
Music: Blitz, Psychic TV, Daniel Johnston, Ibo Simon, Leona Gabriel, Sam Castendet, Dead Moon, Fuckly, Alan Vega, DJ Slugo, Tonetta, Eli & Jacno, Kate Bush, X ray Spex, Robert Wyatt, Soft Machine, Isao Tomita, Neil Young, France Gall, Buzzcocks, Tuxedomoon, The Cure, Tom Tom Club, William Onyeabor, Bogusman, Johnny Cash, Brigitte Fontaine, Renaud, Dani Cosmic, Siouxsie, DMX, Rakim, Rat Luciano, Salif, Booba.
Cinema: Herzog, Friedkin, Cronenberg, Peckinpah, Leone, Obayashi, Hitchcock, Depalma, Denis Hopper, David Lynch, Carlos Saura, Fellini, Bergman, Scorsese, Frères Coen, Akira Kurosawa, Kyoshi Kurosawa, Shimizu, John Houston, Alex Cox, Nick Zedd, Frankenhelotter, Stuart Gordon & Brian Yuzna, Jodorowsky, Arrabal, Bresson, Melville, Richard Stanley, Clive Barker, Kobayashi, Painlevé, Pressburger & Powell, Siodmak, Otto Preminger, Lars Von Triers, Joe Dante, Tobe Hooper, Carpenter, John Hughes, Bertrand Blier.
What inspires me is high intensity, violence, weirdness, magic, oneirism incarnated through the chosen medium.
If people wanted to work with you, have a chat or buy some of your art – how should they get in touch and were should they visit?
Our Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/eleonore.et.kenny/
…and any upcoming projects you would like to mention?
We are working on a comic book called L’amour du risque (a reference to the French name of the TV show Hart to Hart) – Puque flippe un max or Taste for risk – Puque Is Freaking Out, recounting a librarian’s streak of bad luck.
One day he’s strck by a weird paralysis, one eye opened, the other closed and badly swelling. He develops a paranoid delirium, experiencing the world as if it was out to get him and mixing up reality and imagination more and more.
Odds and Ends
If you guys could live in any place, during any historical era – where and when would that be?
…and why would you choose that time and place?
In the most distant future possible, to observe the trees – which would re-become human beings – complete their transformation. To finally realize that the planets are falsely immobile spaceships heading towards a certain point in the cosmos.
To be there, when every square inch of soil on our planet will be the surface of a cemetery, much older than the moon, which is one too.
What role did toys play in each of your childhoods?
I don’t know, now they play a very important role, much more than they did then. There are, if we are to believe in dreams, different types of objects, which are as many presences inhabiting different places: the memory, the “here”, the dreams and the “far away”…
Forgetfulness is the real death.
The making of altars, the inventory, the collection, the sampling of places, of times, through the conservation of talismanic objects / fragments, rituals, taking a form of animism are as many practices that We have made ours over the years.
Objects are tools of connection, they allow time travel. They are both protective talismans and easy means of awakening the past and wakening old emotions.
Toys are the very first objects to come into our possession, which accentuates their sacredness.
Drugs – waste of time or gateway to the universe?
Who was each of your 1st crushes?
…and why were you so infatuated with them?
Kenny: Miss Piggy, for her ingenuousness.
Plus I hate frogs.
Eléonore: My elementary school teacher from when I was 9.
Then he left school and became a professional football coach.
He had his own sticker with his face on it in the 2000 UEFA Football Championship stickers album.
Does sex change everything?
Only in December and especially on Christmas day.
What are the top 3 items you each own?
[Please include photos or drawings of them!]
In a battle between the two French icons: Babar the Elephant (from the series of children’s books) Vs. Emmanuelle (from the series of erotic novels and films) – who would win?
…and why would they be victorious?
BABAR!! Hands down.
Because, as written in The Story of Babar, “he is a very good little elephant”. And heaven know he really is.
Plus, Eléonore was named after a character from Babar and Zephir.
Please describe your last dreams in detail…
Kenny: I had a dream that I was in Martinique, in the Vauclin, my grandparents’ holiday house.
A big storm was coming, I was with my cousin and we’d go outside to look at it. It was marvellous, this thing of a huge power, coming closer, its tangible intensity, its energy. It made you want to go into it.
The rain started falling and lashing, it was violent and invigorating, then the hurricane blew me away and I would fly off in the sky and started gliding by myself, well not really gliding, something in between climbing, flying and walking, meaning I would spring on the surface of the void to go higher and jump all over the place, it was wonderful.
I was happy and hoping everyone was looking.
Then I went to my mom and said to her: “See? Magic is real! See?”
She didn’t seem very surprised or impressed. I told her there were different “sky degrees”, that the sky was made of invisible onion peels on which you could lean on to travel in the air.
Eléonore: Yesterday I had the usual dreadful dream I have a few times a month. In those I have the definite feeling that I smashed/crushed/ran over a small kitten/hamster/chick/duckling/lamb without being absolutely sure.
I can’t resolve myself to look under the cushion/bend over too look under the wheels of the car/to open the box I forgot to drill holes in and I go through life burdened by guilt.
Of everything you each have done what would you most like to be remembered for?
… and why?
Kenny: For the cover I made for Renaud, Johnny Cash and Kate Bush, because they’re the ugliest things I’ve ever done, though I made them with all my heart (like in Galactic Pot-Healer).
All images supplied by Eléonore & Kenny.