Renowned international artist Thierry Lefort has created a local mural in partnership with the City of Burbank that shows a stunning interpretation of the city.
Lefort’s relationship with the city began after the Burbank Economic Development team learned of his art through social media in the summer of 2021. The department was so impressed with Lefort’s work that they asked for permission to repost his creations online, which set the stage for their alliance.
Burbank Economic Development and the Property Based Business Improvement District of the Downtown Burbank Partnership had previously started a mural initiative that brought 11 other wall art projects to Downtown Burbank. The economic development department suggested that Lefort could be the next artist to paint a downtown mural, and the PBID enthusiastically agreed.
In the past, Lefort used oil paints for an image depicting a view of the Verdugo Mountains from Magnolia Blvd., and this served as his inspiration when mapping out the mural. The city approved of Lefort’s mural outline due to its rich representation of Burbank. The PBID provided funding for the project with goals of “generating additional visitation and exposure for the area while continuing to enliven public spaces through art, improve the aesthetics of Downtown and encourage visitation to an even more walkable neighborhood in the same way that the Batman Statue added a new reason the visit the district,” City of Burbank Economic Development Manager Mary Hamzoian said.
“With its vibrant colors, iconic hills, and the way it captures the beauty of the area, the mural featured the artist’s interpretation of the skyline in Downtown Burbank while also complementing the existing art in the area,” Hamzoian added.
On Friday, July 29, Lefort began this undertaking at the intersection of Orange Grove Ave. and San Fernando Blvd. The artist has done smaller murals in Paris, France, as well as one other in St. Petersburg, Russia. This artwork in Burbank marked the first large mural Lefort has ever made.
“It’s a much bigger scale, so the challenge was to make it the same on a wall and on a bigger scale and on a different matter because it’s acrylic, while I always paint with oil,” Lefort said.
Each day, Lefort has dedicated an average of five hours to working on the wall art during sweltering summer days. Following a nearly month-long process, the mural showcases the scenery of the city through a vivid and eye-catching yet simple design. Rather than highlighting the typical aspects of Burbank, Lefort looked for the unique qualities that make the city stand out when crafting his painting.
“What I tried to achieve is to show a view of Burbank with palms, with trees, with the mountains,” Lefort said. “I tried to show an image that is not popular, that people don’t necessarily know about Burbank. I wanted to show colors and simplified shapes … and undo the complexity of the city, to make it simple.”
Most recently, Lefort has been using both colorful oil paint and blue ink while painting on canvases. He decided to combine these two aesthetics for the color scheme of the Burbank wall art. This element, along with Lefort’s precision in drawing out the various shapes in the mural, is part of a detailed artistic approach that he’s established over the years.
“There’s a very precise technique that I came up with, with the way I put the colors together and the way I put the shapes together that makes the painting alive,” Lefort explained. “It’s not by chance. It’s a technique I’ve developed.”
As Lefort’s wall has been constructed, many Burbank residents and visitors alike have developed an ardent interest in the striking design. These positive and spirited reactions have often caught the unassuming artist off guard, he says.
“I’m always surprised because people like it a lot. They’re very expressive,” Lefort said. “They pass by and say, ‘Oh, it’s great.’ And it always surprises me to see how people are enthusiastic.”
Since Lefort has been working on the mural, the city has received messages from other artists who have a desire to paint their own artwork locally. One of these creatives is an animator from a studio in Burbank who is currently in talks to make another mural in town. Lefort has not only inspired others to offer their services for future Burbank art proposals, but he has also bonded with a number of local pedestrians and business owners.
“We’re delighted with what we’ve seen so far, and feedback from the public has been positive,” Hamzoian said of Lefort’s contributions. “Thierry has been a welcoming presence while he’s been painting, making friends with passersby and with nearby shop owners.”
Now that he has officially completed this venture, Lefort is optimistic that the mural site will be a place where onlookers can have positive experiences now and in years to come.
“I would like it to bring joy, and I hope it will help people be in a great mood,” Lefort said.
To learn more about Thierry Lefort and his artwork, visit his Instagram account here, and stop by his new mural at Orange Grove Ave. and San Fernando Blvd.
To discover more about the many murals of Burbank, check out the Economic Development team’s self-guided street art tour, which will soon have Lefort’s artwork and more new murals added to the list.