A bit ago, I stumbled onto the Babylon Baroque blog, who’s tagline — “snotty opinions and a fondness for excess” — had me at the word go. The blog is written by Los Angeles-based artist Leonard Greco and I found myself fully enjoying his irreverent mix of design history, decorative arts and personal conversations with his readers.
Artist Leonard Greco
Mr. Greco is a one-man studio and has been designing ornamental compositions and murals for the last 20 years. “I am self-taught and now at 50 years of age, attending school and earning a BFA. It is a humbling and wondrous experience,” Leonard says. “I hope to ultimately switch to large scale studio work outside the design community, in galleries”. His love and knowledge of decorative ornamentation and period aesthetics have garnered him many discriminating and unique clients, including singer Christina Aguilera, whose home was profiled in the October 2009 InStyle issue. I’m very happy that we were able to e-chat recently about his artistry, interests and personal musings.
RG: What is the first work of art you remember creating?
LG: The first painting I ever attempted was on a discarded chunk of sheetrock. My parents had allowed me to claim a corner of our basement for my own personal sanctuary. With that sheetrock I attempted to recreate a Buddhist wall mural, all in shades of jade and gilt. I nailed it to the ceiling. My first, and certainly easiest mural. I was 10.
RG: What are some of your personal favorite design and/or finish styles?
LG: I love all things 19th century, enlightened design to the vulgar, Regency to vaudeville.
RG: What is the best thing that has happened to the art industry in the last five years?
LG: The Green Movement has been a tremendous boon, not only for the obvious reasons. I no longer need to make a case for not using hazardous material. When I started out that was not the case and all “good” designers demanded oil treatments.
RG: Len, I love this! Tell me a bit about it…
LG: The Salome panel is oil on canvas, artist unknown to me. It is early 20th century and it inspired the room and my decoration. I was hoping to capture the bohemian decadent type of interiors favored by Stephen Tennant and his crowd of Bright Young Things in the 20′s.
RG: What magazines do you subscribe to?
LG: There is only one design magazine worth reading, World of Interiors.
RG: What artist would you like to commission to create a painting for your home?
LG: Whistler, he can doodle peacocks on anything he wishes.
RG: What is your greatest talent?
LG: My greatest gift is designing ornament, something I love deeply. With that said, I wish to become a better studio painter.
I admire how artists always strive for that chrysalis, the evolution into something better, different, deeper. I hope you’ve enjoyed the peek into Leonard Greco’s enchanted world. You can see further artistry in his online portfolio. I urge you to also check out his blog, Babylon Baroque — there is always something new to discover about the decorative arts and he delivers it in a witty, amusing way. Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!