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Written by: Eva Levy and Sierra Bretz

Sometimes in life, you meet people that are just…captivating. They have an interesting story to tell, which sounds like it jumped straight from the pages of a page-turning  novel  or Indiana Jones film. 

Meet Éric Lapszynski, adventurer, draftsman, and expressionist painter. 

Born in Paris but of Ukrainian origin, Lapszynski is a self-made artist that discovered art at an early age. From his childhood, he remembers fondly the many times a family friend brought him to artists’ studios. There, Lapszynski watched old painters with big beards create. “I especially  remember the smell there, I loved it. It’s my Madeleine de Proust.”  

 

His Work

In the beginning of his artistic career, Lapszynski first started with Chinese ink and was drawing a lot of figurative work. He experimented with a variety of mediums and styles, including realism and abstraction. Influenced by the expressionism and fauvism of the early 20th century, Lapszynski enjoys layering colors to create moving and captivating effects. Currently, his focus is expressive and harmonious portraits, primarily with oils, but also oil pastels and India ink. He brings to life both fictional and real characters with intense gazes and a wide range of stories to tell.   

While talking with Lapszynski, you find that he is lively and warm, yet in his work he is somewhat solitary. He focuses on painting every single day and loves to spend the day alone, absorbed in his newest creation. 

“I like to work alone, instead of in collaboration with others. I’m a little bit like a bear!” 

Lapszynski has experienced quite a bit of travel over the years, but wherever he is, he always finds a way to paint. “I lived in a very small apartment for a time, and I couldn’t really work on huge pieces. So I started working with material adapted to that small place. But the lack of space never stopped me, because there’s no excuse, you can always create.”   

 

The Adventure

While painting is now Lapszynski ’s only focus, over his lifetime, he has lived many adventures that didn’t involve holding a paint-brush.   For example, in 2008 he journeyed alone into the jungle, to explore with no food, water or phone. “The only thing you focus on at this moment is finding water. It was scary at times, I ran into very strange people in the wild, people with guns! It was dangerous because there, no one will save you. But it was also a great experience, to learn how to really be autonomous.” Lapszynski enjoyed it so much that he went back to the jungle again in 2011.  

Lapszynski was also a bodyguard for the candidates of Miss France and the famous French reality TV show Star Academy. What else?  He flew a paraengine for over 10 years. “I always wanted to fly. Regardless of the weather, every day I went flying, even if only for 10 minutes. On two occasions I have had to do emergency landings…it was scary! That is when I discovered my survival instinct, which was pretty impressive.”

Lapszynski  brings this spirit of adventure into his painting – he is not afraid of seizing opportunities. He talks about his daring experiences with calm, as if anyone could do the same. But now, he speaks most joyously about his work and is very happy to be able to live his dream: the life of an artist.

 

Editor’s note:  At the time of the writing of this article, the 2022 Russia-Ukraine war was beginning. Below, the artist shared with us a few thoughts about the situation and his history.

"To me, you can't be neutral when confronted with what's happening in Ukraine. I'm strongly taking side for Ukraine, because the situation is inhumane...people are dying as well as children." While Lapszynski was born in Paris, his grandparents came from the Ukraine to France to work on a farm in the 30's. With the money they earned, they bought land back in their home country. However, before they could return, the war broke out and their land was confiscated. So they stayed in France and became French citizens. Lapszynski's grandparents couldn't see their loved ones again until the 70's when they managed secretly return to the Ukraine.