By Michel Fily, January 29 2020
Loodz was born in 1978 in Haute-Savoie, but it was on the other side of Lake Geneva that he grew up, on the border of Switzerland, in France. His wall art and his paintings recall the drawings of Maitre Philippe Druillet and the paintings of the great Vassily Kandinsky. Since September 2017, Loodz has been represented by Superposition in Lyon. The artist participated in the 5th edition of the l’Urban Art Jungle festival, at the Other Silk, in Villeurbanne in June 2019. Urban Street Art Urbain met him on this occasion.
Hello Loodz, can you introduce yourself to the readers?
My name is Loodz, I’m 40 years old, I’ve been doing graffiti for twenty years. I come from the country of Gex, near Geneva, where there is a crazy scene and where style and quality are much put forward. It’s a different mentality than in France, closer to the German mentality … I have never studied art, I am completely self-taught. I wasn’t made for school at all. I have learned alone to use the different techniques and software like Photoshop and some colleagues who have studied are amazed at my mastery and the « processes » that I use. Graffiti for me was first (naively) a challenge, before perceiving it as a means of expression and fulfillment in its own right. I started with the tag. At the beginning, we did this in garages, we hid from the elders, because we were ashamed of not being good enough, then little by little we started to master bombs and our styles, we got some insurance and we started going out. We graffiti on highways city, surroundings … Then, I wanted to go further. Doing the street is good, but you are limited in time and you cannot make huge walls, which I started to do relatively late, in wasteland and abandoned factories. I started a workshop in 2006, in Villeurbanne. I started by painting mostly portraits there, because I wanted to explore this technique. Then I could gradually synthesize my influences. I have exhibited in Lyon, Geneva, Hamburg, Dubai, and I will soon be exhibiting in Paris.
What are your techniques and supports?
I paint on spray walls and on acrylic canvases. I painted a few wooden modules. I live from my painting today, but I don’t make a lot of money, so graffiti has become more rare. I try to do as much as possible, but my work in the workshop costs me a lot of money … And then, Lyon is a city where Street Art is not very sustainable. Most of the walls are in constant rotation and the works only stay there for a few months, while in Spain, in Switzerland, I have walls that are 5 years old. I like the canvas for its qualitative aspect and the acrylic for the same reason. The spray has its limits. What I do on the wall will never be as clean as what I paint in the workshop. But overall, I have no overview on the supports. My style is a little different in the studio, compared to my wall work. At the base there is always lettering. Me, I make vessels in lettering. My universe is very inspired by comics and science fiction. The general theme revolves around the « spirit » of a quest. And the vessels are a good way to move forward … It’s a pretty Manichean universe, « the bad guys against the good guys », it’s my way of simplifying reality, a sort of futuristic counter-utopia where we would already be gone through chaos. On canvas, I try to have a more abstract, more spiritual discourse, inspired by my readings and my reflections. The graffiti school to which I belong is a discipline that requires a lot of time, work and energy. It enjoins you to seek things in you that you do not find immediately, but that you have to build over time. For me, the canvas corresponds to this outcome. When I started exhibiting in 2006, I had decided to make portraits, to acquire the technique. People liked it right away, so I sold right away. But that was the source of a big challenge for me. I knew artists of great talent, who had a pure approach, and who did not sell. It made me feel like « fake ». My work today remains very technical, but it corresponds to my personal research and satisfies me much more, even if I sell less. Unfortunately, too often when I make a wall, people say « Ah it’s cool, the character », but do not look at the rest. There is still educational work to be done … On all supports, I like color and contrasts, because they represent life. I use an average of thirty different colors, on canvas as on walls. I can sometimes use primary colors, but in general I make my own mixes.
What are your inspirations?
The one who taught me all the techniques of acrylic and which I would say he really taught me to paint, is Pro176, a former French graffiti artist, one of those who raised the level of Very high street art. I was lucky to meet him and to be invited to his workshop. He trained me, gave me all the tricks so that I could develop my work in acrylic. It was an amazing opportunity, and then I developed my own techniques. Today, among my new influences, after graffiti and comics have been synthesized, there is literature. Right now, I’m reading René Guénon, Victor Hugo, classics of French literature. I only started reading these books after I left school! Today, I would like to synthesize all my readings in my art. Another of my important influences is music. Rap groups, like Assassin, have been great trainers. It was they who served as a school for me, who pushed me to read and understand who the Black Panthers were, how certain powers manipulate the masses, what is exploitation of Africa by the West… They are the ones who made me want to understand the world in which I live. Finally, for my graffiti inspirations, I would mention the three Crews of which I am a part: ID (of which Somey are members in Belgium and Pro176 in Madrid), PB and finally Z Elements, a small group of friends with whom I started out graff.
Tell us about your meeting with Superposition?
A friend had shown my work to Orbiane Wolff, co-founder of Superposition, and I went to meet her. At that time, I was very invested in my workshop approach, I did not get out much and did not go to meet the galleries. I was like, « Someday what you do will be good enough and someone will contact you. » I quickly realized that I could wait forever (laughs). So, I decided to meet them and the current quickly passed. I participated in a first Urban Art Jungle two years ago, then I did my solo exhibition « Kairos » at SITIO in 2018, and I continue to work with them today. I participated in Collisions Urbaines last May and I participated in l’Urban Art Jungle #5. Superposition is a young association whose dynamism I admire. At their ages, I was much more passive, I find their work admirable and I am very happy to collaborate with them.
What do you think of the evolution of Street Art today?
I don’t consider myself an urban artist for the simple reason that I didn’t grow up in an urban setting. I come from the foot of the mountain, it is not even the countryside, it is a dormitory area, without cultural activity. Everything happens in Switzerland and as the cost of living is enormous, you have to flee to be able to find accommodation … So, I like to paint in places where I feel good and for that I need a little of nature. This is the reason why I have a little trouble getting used to the very urban character of Lyon. But at the same time, it’s great, because there is a great convergence of energies in this city. Regarding my appreciation of the evolution of urban art, I have a little feeling that the Street Art label hides the graffiti. It may be a must, a necessity. But it has engendered a form of consensuality that I find nauseating. Graffiti is essentially wild in nature, linked to the tool and the places where it is engraved. Before, we hid, we never said our blaze. Today, you make a « chrome », you take a photo in front and you send it on Instagram … It is surely a good thing that it is like that, that it has become « nice ». And when I see kids who master the technique right away, because the tools are up to date today, I find it cool. I’m just having a hard time getting used to it. There are artists who come from graffiti and who deserve their place. There are others who have only stenciled for years and that is something else for me. What is Street Art in the end? A complicated label. Me, I feel like a graffiti artist who makes paintings, from time to time. Or maybe the opposite (laughs) …
Where are you in your art and what are your future projects?
I am happy because I am progressing, but I had to make the choice to concentrate on my work in acrylic on canvas, which is very dear to me. It’s rarer today for me to build walls, because I cannot fully finance both approaches. But my style and my artistic discourse are evolving and it’s a good thing. Proposals and opportunities are also increasing and this is very positive. Regarding the projects, I had an exhibition with the Guy Pensa gallery, near Luxembourg. I also work with the We Need Art platform. And participated in « From Gotham » …
If I were the genie of Aladin’s lamp and you could make a wish, which one would it be?
It would be to be able to paint with all my friends and members of my Crew. A great wall of several days, in Combo, all together…
Is there a question I didn’t ask that you would like to answer?
I would like to say that it is a long-term job. And that everyone has their own way. Only with work can you progress on the right track. But you have to be honest with yourself and with your approach to be able to move forward.