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Lukas Avalon: stencil art from Monaco to Bucharest

lukas-avalon
The Monegasque artist specialises in portraits, using a stencilling technique. © Lukas Avalon

Now working out of a workshop in Romania and in his thirties, the artist started his career in the Principality 10 years ago. We met up with him on a recent trip back to his roots. 

“I got into art purely by chance.” Born in Monaco, Lukas Avalon felt out of place at school. When he left, his free time was spent between sport, work and his childhood dream of creating a clothing brand. Today, at 33, he is not known by the general public for clothing, but for the works he creates. His highly colourful portraits are sold worldwide.

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“When I tried to create my first clothing brand, at 21, I realised it was very difficult, and I didn’t have enough seed money to produce my t-shirts,” says the artist. It took an electroshock to set the young man with an artistic bent off on a new adventure. One evening, he was watching the documentary ‘Exit through the gift shop’, directed by Banksy , featuring the artist Mr. Brainwash and his journey before he got into street art. “I realised that everyone could create and make art. You just had to dare, you just had to do it and, like everything else, the more time you spend developing your technique, the better you get,” says Lukas.

A first exhibition in London

The self-taught young artist was particularly drawn to the stencilling technique. Using pre-cut templates, the artist can overlay colours and patterns to create the image he wants. “Working on my computer, I can create stencils from photos. I went out and bought some canvases and spray cans, but it was terrible at first.” He set himself “a personal challenge” of improving, spending many an hour on Youtube, and its different tutorials. As luck, or fate, would have it, one of Lukas’ paintings was spotted on X (formerly Twitter) by an English gallery. “They wanted me to produce six paintings for an exhibition.” 

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© Lukas Avalon

In August 2013, the contemporary art gallery Imitate Modern invited the young Monegasque to Popped. [The exhibition welcomes, Ed.] New pop culture Artists: Lukas Avalon, based in Monaco, making street art on canvas in tribute to icons like Grace Kelly and Kate Moss,” a UK news site said, some 10 years ago.

I want to create connections with the paintings for people. 

At the time, Lukas’s work was influenced by street art and pop art. Adding a new, or less familiar, twist. “From the start, I used more colours, six or seven different tones. Pretty flashy colours. I wanted to make sure it wasn’t visually aggressive but decorative, luxury but casual.” And what the artist wants is to dress his clients’ interiors. “I am not into shock art and I remember that at my first exhibition, there was a real contrast between the other paintings and what I was doing,”  he says with a smile. What about the decision to move into portraits? “I want to create connections with the paintings for people.”

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© Lukas Avalon

And connections there were. After London, Lukas returned to Monaco and for over 10 years he “got commission after commission.” With the help of an agent for a while, the Monegasque artist managed to place his works in collections around the world, from Lebanon to England. He worked at home in the Principality, then spent a few years in a studio in Beaulieu, until 2019.

The artist gradually became part of the local scene and also wanted to do his bit for the voluntary sector. “I always wanted to be able to help out through my art.” A few months ago, several of his works were sold for the benefit of Fight Aids Monaco, and for a very special occasion. “It was very moving, perhaps the most memorable thing I have done,” says Lukas. The sale was held for the Centennial Ball, an exclusive evening in honour of Prince Rainier III, and attended by the Princely Family. The artist’s 5 works raised over €40,000.

Lukas Avalon with Prince Albert II and Camille Gottlieb at the Centennial Ball. © Frédéric Nebinger
Above the guests, the three portraits of Prince Rainier III, created by Lukas Avalon and sold at auction. © Frédéric Nebinger

10 years earlier, the connection had already been formed with the Monegasque charity founded by Princess Stéphanie. “I made a big portrait of Princess Grace for an auction to benefit the charity. It raised more than €21,000. I was very proud,” says Lukas. In the meantime, the artist also took part in a sale organised by the International School of Monaco, helping to raise €31,000, as well as charity events for BeSafe, the non-profit created by Camille Gottlieb.  “I give some pieces that are then put up as raffle prizes to raise funds.” And the cause is close to his heart. “I have lost several friends and acquaintances to drunk driving and it is sad to see that it is still an issue,” he says, referring to the recent fatal accident involving IUM students.

In 2013, Princess Stephanie and Pauline Ducruet next to Lukas Avalon’s work. All rights reserved

Today, Lukas Avalon works in Bucharest, in very large premises where his ideas come to life on canvas.  “I would have liked to stay in Monaco but I needed to unleash my creativity.” Apart from his studio in Beaulieu, the artist had always worked at home in the Principality. However, this was no longer possible for practical reasons but also for the sake of his health, as it’s never a good idea to be working with aerosol cans for too long.

He tried to find new premises in Monaco, on several occasions. “I asked around a lot, but to no avail,”  he says. Early in his career and up until last year, Lukas had his eye on one of the state-owned studios, above Conscientiae, formerly Stars’N’Bars. The premises are  allocated to an artist for a given period, on application. A great regret for the Monegasque, who would have liked for one of his many applications to finally be granted. “In the end I left, and it changed my life. I now feel like I have an opportunity to thrive and live my art to the full.”

Lukas now focuses on his own exhibitions, which he would like to launch in Romania and Monaco. “I would like to bring people from one of the countries to the other and vice versa, I really like both and I would like them to discover these beautiful countries,”  he says. And more than 10 years on, the idea of creating his own clothing brand is still at the back of his mind. As is putting a team together, perhaps becoming the artistic director of his own structure one day.