Acclaimed French artist Henri Lamy offers his impressionistic take on Bangkok
On arrival in Bangkok, Henri Lamy was almost immediately immersed in its infectious chaos. With only a week to explore the city before beginning his residency at the Modern Gallery – his exhibition, Hope, runs from June 11 to August 13 – the Frenchman set out to take in as much of the capital as he could.
“The city is very lively. It never rests. There’s always something to do,” he says. “I saw these kids for example, laying in the street, I started calling them, and joined them in their fight. They were all running at me trying to hit me, jumping and kicking. Everyone was laughing as they’d never seen a white dude playing capoeira with them.”
Lamy’s exhibition will feature a collection of paintings depicting Thailand – and Bangkok, specifically. In many ways, it is a subject perfectly suited to Lamy’s vibrant, slightly chaotic style.
“My art wants to be messy, and spontaneous,” he explains. “I use a palette knife, because I’m too lazy to wash my brushes. I use acrylic, because I don’t want to wait for it to dry. I paint fast, because I want the paint to flow like a pen on a paper. Action is my style. The mix of colours is chaotic and illogical.
“There’s a real message of joy and happiness in the artworks [depitcing Thailand], but it also asks questions about the society and who are the main actors of the system, how does hierarchy work, who loves who, who teaches spirituality and philosophy.
“I’m really grateful for what I discovered here, it means a lot to me. Representing old cultural things with the fresh look of an outsider is always interesting.”
Lamy’s figurative style has already earned him serious acclaim in Europe but his approach remains low-key, matter-of-fact.
“Figurative means representing reality and real things and people,” he says. “Be real, be honest, and deal with reality, be down-to-earth and honest. No lie, no shame. We live in the present and love to live life. We are grateful for that. I’m trying to enjoy what I do.”
In particular, Lamy has developed a distinctive style of portraiture, although he’s not entirely sure how his approach developed.
“There have been millions of painters before me and they all probably already tried to create a distinctive style,” he says. “My art shows passion, dream, ambition, shares values between people and helps to interact. I want to give it a social power sometimes.”
Lamy also paints live – creating portraits in front of an audience. Despite the extra pressure, he enjoys the experience.
“The reaction of people – sometimes it can become crazy, sometimes just stays chill out, we never know,” he says. “But there’s always someone going to comment about the event and the way I did my performance and I think I like it. It really helps to create better. You tend to correct certain errors or launch in other directions. When I was a kid, I liked painting on my own, and didn’t need to show it to the world. Now I think every art work can be done in front of them. It’s a communion.
“I’m trying to deal with the spark that it inside everybody. How we listen to our dreams, if we have some. The people I meet always reveal something, that helps me understand part of a bigger picture.”
June 11 –August 13
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