In 1912 the minor Augustin Lesage heard voices telling him that he would be a painter. Eight to ten months later, during a spiritualist seance, the spirits appeared again. Soon after, Lesage began a huge canvas of nine square meters. He spent all his spare time working on the painting ; it would take him over a year to finish it. Regularly participating in seances, he believed that his works were dictated by spirits - Leonardo da Vinci, and Marius of Tyana, deformation of Apollonius of Tyana or double of Marie, his little sister who died at the age of three. It was only later that Lesage agreed to sign his work. Describing the creative process behind his production, Lesage wrote : "Before I start to paint I never have any idea as to what I want to portray. I never have an overview of the entire work at any point of the execution. My guides tell me : ‘Do not try to understand what you’re doing.’ I surrender to their impulse."
In 1923, he left the mines and met the Egyptologist Moret. He became passionate about Egyptian drawings, declaring himself the reincarnation of an artist of Pharaonic times. He continued to paint hundreds of works rich in religious symbols from different cultures. He exhibited and sold his paintings, met with the artistic community with which he had an ambiguous relationship. While his work was highly inventive until the early forties, it gradually weakened until it became a poor caricature of his anterior production.
SEE ALSO :
Publications de la Compagnie de l’Art Brut, fascicule 3. Paris, 1965.
Augustin Lesage 1876 - 1954. Texts by Annick Notter and Didier Derœux, Michel Thévoz, Hubert Larcher, Christian Delacampagne, Marie-France Lecomte-Emond, Robert Amadou. Paris : Philippe Sers Editeur, 1988.