French artist Lolo Zazar has worked in various genres for 30 years, from fine arts and photography to animated film. His new exhibition Metal Dream, inspired by Viet Nam, is displayed at L'Espace in downtown Ha Noi.
He shares his new passion for metal as a medium with Culture Vulture.
Tell us about your new metal discoveries?
|French artist Lolo Zazar
I have found beautiful images in the walls of Ha Noi. I took many photos. Sometimes I found beautiful things on metal panels in the street created by moss, rust and light. I took photos of these, too. The next day, they might transform into other images. I realised they were like paintings by nature, which were better than any work by humans. One day, I thought of printing the photos I took on metal. I had to wait for a long time because at that time metal was very expensive.
Eight months ago, Thanh Thanh, a studio I worked with, informed me that they had a new machine that could print on metal. We experimented a bit and learned that stainless steel was the most suitable kind of metal. The colours came out wonderful.
I showed some works to L'Espace and they liked them, so they decided to organise the exhibition.
Sometimes I give the photos titles to describe what I imagine about the images. But sometimes the audience discovers new things, not the things I mentioned in the titles. Art really belongs to people's imaginations.
I called the exhibition Metal Dream because the whole thing has been my dream for a long time.
Is it the first time you have used stainless steel?
Yes. In France, I used aluminium for my sculptures. But it was very expensive there.
Stainless steel is more expensive but here it is cheaper than in Europe. I wouldn't be able to do the same exhibition in Paris, or I would have to work with a gallery that would pay for it. Here it's nice because I can invest in making things by myself.
Now I'm making lamps with metal. It's the beginning of many future projects.
What surprised you about working with metal?
When you look at metal and you move, the colours change. With different sources of light from the sun and electric lights, the picture changes. Stainless steel gives me exactly what I want.
Can you compare metal with other materials?
I worked with metal when I made sculptures when I was young. I thought it was too hard and too dirty.
But here, I tried metal again and I liked it. When you like something, it feels easy.
Maybe in the future, I'll use wood.
You never went to arts school. So what introduced you to the arts?
I began to make a movie in 1998 with two friends. It took two years to make our first movie. We did everything from writing scripts to acting and editing. After that I made animations and some paintings. I made many mistakes because I didn't know basic techniques. But at the same time I learnt many things.
I do everything for pleasure, rather than to make a profit. I made T-shirts for myself. Then people liked them and encouraged me to make more for selling. I like making small creative things. I don't want a big business.
How has Viet Nam influenced your art?
A lot. I've taken many photos of walls in Ha Noi, Hoi An and Da Nang. The wall is a big part of my work.
I used to study lacquer techniques. I'm inspired by the art form, and by the Asian colours it uses like red, yellow and black.
Every day, I look at people in the street. It's like in a cinema. I'm interested in the way they transport things, do things. Vietnamese are clever, hard-working and dynamic. All of these qualities have inspired me to work on projects about their lives.
After seven years, I can say that I understand the country and people, but I am still discovering interesting things every day. — VNS