The designer Louis Barthélemy, a smuggler from elsewhere

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The artist Louis Barthélemy, in Paris. YANN DERET

With its terraced lawns, the Babur Garden, built in 1528 in the southeast of Kabul, is one of the oldest Mughal creations. Spared in recent decades by the war, it served as a refuge for residents traumatized by the fighting. Until the Taliban decided to ban women’s access to it two years ago. This place and its history caught the attention of Louis Barthélemy.

“When Ishkar, a company which offers objects and jewelry made by artisans from countries at war, contacted me to create a collection of Afghan carpets, I wanted to take inspiration from Babur and the gardens of paradise, explains the artist. I invited women weavers to draw birds, ducks, pomegranates, stars and hearts with felt-tip pens, while, for my part, I sketched stylized trees and mausoleums. Then I combined the two series to compose three monochrome rugs [un orangé, un rose et un rouge]. »

It’s been ten years since the thirty-year-old settled between Morocco and Egypt, from where he travels the planet, with a tropism for the Arab and Persian worlds. On site, he conducts anthropological and iconographic research which then inspires his works, often woven. “I like to celebrate what is common to humans since all civilizations have nourished each other. »

Wall tapestry

This Parisian native who traveled across Africa during his childhood felt this taste for travel very early on. “I have dazzling memories of a stay in the Dadès gorges and in the “valley of roses”, in Morocco, when I must have been around ten years old. » After studying in London – “a mosaic of cultures much richer than any other European capital” –, at the prestigious fashion school Central Saint Martins, Louis Barthélemy studied in Paris, within the houses of Dior and Galliano. He learned about textiles. “A material of which [il] loves the diversity of possibilities: prints, weaving, embroidery, ornamentation, jacquard… »

>Carpets by Louis Barthélemy, inspired by the garden of Babur, in Kabul, and distributed by Ishkar.>

Carpets by Louis Barthélemy, inspired by the garden of Babur, in Kabul, and distributed by Ishkar.

Carpets by Louis Barthélemy, inspired by the garden of Babur, in Kabul, and distributed by Ishkar. LOUIS BARTHÉLEMY
>Louis Barthélemy worked with women weavers in Afghanistan for Ishkar.>

Louis Barthélemy worked with women weavers in Afghanistan for Ishkar.

Louis Barthélemy worked with women weavers in Afghanistan for Ishkar. KIANA HAYERI

But the young man quickly felt cramped in this world and decided at the age of 24 to fly to Morocco. “I made the choice to free myself from career plans. I like floating in a society that I only partially capture. Being the other in an elsewhere allows you to deconstruct your thoughts. » He specializes in wall tapestry and collaborates with artisans, galleries, independent houses or brands.

Read also | From Afghanistan to Europe, carpets that weave links

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He immersed himself in the archives of the ancient Egypt department of the Louvre in order to design a wallpaper pattern for the publisher Pierre Frey or a tapestry inspired by the temples of Luxor for one of the Louboutin shoe boutiques. At the end of May, he will exhibit works in raffia, agave and metal made by Tunisian embroiderers at the Musk and Amber gallery in Tunis, before delivering a work for the Le Sirenuse hotel in Positano, on the Amalfi coast. Then he will fly to Uzbekistan to seek inspiration from shimmering and graphic suzanis and ikats.

louisbarthelemy.com; ishkar.com

Marie Godfrain

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