Sculptures Drawn on Paper: Biomorphic Paintings with Lawasi
Lawasi is an artist creating vibrant biomorphic paintings. His artworks often celebrate his greatest sources of inspiration, women, with their feminine energy, as well as nature with the animal, vegetal and mineral kingdoms.
WHEN DID YOU START PAINTING AND WHEN DID YOU REALIZE THAT YOU WERE GOOD AT IT?
I started painting and drawing quite young, when I was still a child. I have four brothers and sisters; we each had to find a way to make ourselves heard and drawing was how I chose to express myself. That’s what art is, at its core: self-expression. Talent comes second. No matter how talented you are, you have to work and hone your craft.
Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder as they say, and with hindsight, I think it’s through my grandmother’s eyes that I realized that I had some talent. She was my first fan, the first person to collect my paintings. She’s always encouraged me to explore my creativity.
WHAT WAS YOUR JOURNEY AS AN ARTIST LIKE?
I’ve never really taken art classes, except maybe from the ones they give in primary school – and to be honest, I wasn’t really paying attention. I was too busy being the class clown! I’m self-taught. I like to go into my studio and stay there for days or weeks, just working. I’ve never really had any mentors, although I realize that sharing ideas and being open to criticism are essential for artists wishing to offer their art to the public eye. I’ve been fortunate enough to get feedback on my work from talented artists and arts professionals, in particular Nicolas Bissek, a writer whose advice was invaluable.
YOU STUDIED LAW, WHICH IS QUITE REMOVED FROM THE ART WORLD. WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO PURSUE ART? WAS IT AN EASY DECISION TO MAKE?
I studied Law in France and in the US and had really cool and smart classmates. I learnt how to structure my thoughts and I think it made me more open-minded. Pursuing art was never really a choice. My passion for art has always been there: it’s like a fruit that’s growing inside of you. It’s this internal need that Kandinsky talks about. It would be totally useless to try and extinguish this creative force. I came to realize that I couldn’t escape this calling. I couldn’t fight it; I had to surrender to it.
When I started really working on my art, the reactions in my entourage were varied. Some started thinking that I would be the next Picasso (there can only be one!), others thought I had lost my mind. But whether the reactions are excessively positive or condescending, you should not let it get to your head. I value the support I’ve received from friends and family. They’ve helped me face the challenges that are part of an artist’s journey.
YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PAINTINGS AS "BIOMORPHIC". WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
It’s the feedback that I’ve been getting and I now can see it. My paintings are biomorphic, like living and breathing creatures. They are fluid, curvilinear. They move, they are an enigma that you are free to interpret any way you like.
I also like to think that my artworks are sculptures drawn on paper. They have as many lives as the eyes who see them and obey rules from another world.
WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION?
I’m inspired by the vibe, the world evolving around me : my friends, strangers in the subway, people in the street, on the bus… Landscapes inspire me, as well as architecture, dreams, Women, feminine energy, faces, trees, animals, smells, fruits, emotions, moods…
I have a long list of artists that inspire me. I love Wassily Kandinsky, Joan Miro, Jean Lurcat, Marcel Gotene, Marc Chagall, Hilma af Klint, Fernand Leger, Francois Thango, Bror Hjorth, Kazuo Shiraga, Taro Okamoto, Frida Kahlo, Kossi Aguessy, and Jean Dubuffet. And I really admire the work of the following contemporary artists: Lina Iris Viktor, Ryan McGinness, Shinjiro Okamoto, Boshra Coste, Zio Ziegler, Haroshi, Aboudia, Tadanori Yokoo, Chloe Wise, Carolina Gynning, Brandon Sadler and Okuda San Miguel.
And there’s also music. I always listen to music while painting.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE AN ARTIST TODAY IN PARIS?
To be an artist in Paris today means a million different things. Your art can make people escape their daily lives and travel without moving. You feed their eyes while at the same time giving them an alternative way of looking at things.
To be an artist today is to understand your power and responsibility. You put out a message in the world that is unique, and positive. The people who receive that message have sensibilities that are different from yours and the small circle you inhabit.
To be an artist in Paris today is a vivid dream. As the city of love, Paris is an endless source of inspiration.
WHAT IS YOUR LINK TO AFRICA? HOW DOES IT INSPIRE YOU?
There’s an old Bantu proverb that says : « I don’t live on my ancestor’s soil, it’s the soil of my ancestors that lives within me ». In that sense, Africa is an unlimited and internal source of inspiration, from the eternal art of Ancient Egypt, to the futuristic masks of the Dogon people and the magical universe of the Zulus. I am grateful to my parents for this heritage, of which I’m extremely proud.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE A YOUNG ARTIST THAT WANTS TO PURSUE ART?
I’m not sure that my advice is worth anything…. So I’ll refer to my mother (mama know it all). When I was a child, she used to tell me that you should put your heart in everything you do, otherwise it’s not worth doing at all. I think that when you’ re trying to live off your art, you can be tempted to paint only what you think will sell and that can become problematic. So my advice would be to keep love as your first motivation.