Interview with LUDO

Mixing tools of the urban landscape with elements of nature and technology, Parisian street artist LUDO’s work makes a unique combination and a special sight on buildings and walls across the world.

The artist started producing street art, as he felt the necessity to express himself without asking anyone for permission or guidelines. Using “whatever support the city would offer me”, LUDO started creating his street art illegally using a mix of printed-paper, acrylic and tape for outside works and graphite, oil painting and sometimes spray paint for inside works.

His art comes with a message, emphasising the way society takes nature for granted, by disrespecting, over-exploiting and causing vast destruction. Focusing on our surroundings and effects, his work provides a form of humility.

We spoke to the artist about his work, the creatures that regularly feature and the messages each piece encloses.

fluoro. Where do you find stimulation for new work?

LUDO. Nature is my endless source of inspiration, it’s my language, it’s a base for me to express my feelings and connect with the viewer. It kind of started with a piece long time ago, and then I just carried on exploring much more seriously this mix between nature and human technology. It is maybe because I studied technical drawing, perspectives and straight lines, I kind of started to go to the other extremity of organic and round shapes. Then, it became a pathological obsession to create some kind of new species.

Nature is so beautiful, I mean, if you see macro photos and studies of flowers, like Karl Blossfeldt’s photos for example, it’s just an amazing source of inspiration, and again speaking about these photos, the black and white gives them almost a mechanical and cold aspect like a [David] Cronenberg movie.

The idea of beauty and chaos in nature attracts me in a way, like the concepts of duality, dichotomy and almost bipolarity. I am amazed to see how nature can reveal beauty and be synonymous of destruction in such a small amount of time. Nature is not the final image I want to paint, it’s a “base” for me to express my feelings and connect with the viewer. I’m not trying to do a realistic painting of an existing flower but instead I create new species to deliver a specific message. Technology and nature are my biggest interests that I’m trying to follow and see the parallel evolution of.

f. What message do you seek to get across to viewers of your art?

L. There are different messages in my work, multiple visions. The sense of beauty could be a first view but then, if you spend more time to try to understand the visuals there is a message, even a provocation.

It can be hope.

I don’t want it to be understood as sadness or some kind of “end of humankind” as certain people get it. I want to speak about respect in a simple way, respect yourself, your neighbour. I’ve always been inspired by the idea that our quest for perfectionism, power and greatness in a way, with disrespect for what surrounds us, turned into a total no control situation and lead us into such extreme stupid economic and social controversies.

Nature, that we destroyed, is now killing us more than ever. Insects are examples of perfection for scientists that learn from them, from skin cell creation to mathematical organizations to military research. Insects like ants’ socio-political organization are also studied for a bunch of reasons, and the list can go on and on. That all means it’s a kind of “in your face” reverse situation.

f. How do they respond to these messages?

L. Our everyday life is so full of images, so I don’t really expect people to pay much attention. Great if something happens, good or bad, but because you go out putting works without asking permission, what would give you the right to expect people’s reaction.

f. What do the creatures in your work symbolise? 

L. Insects and Plants. I always felt that nature was the last thing we respected in our quest of modernism. We destroyed it, tried to control it. It’s not so much my subject but my inspiration, or more than that, my visual world, if that means something. And I mix it with human made objects, concepts and technologies.

Back to my work, why? First, because everything I need to speak about and want to say, I can do it with my art. That is my tool to express myself: this morph between nature and technology. Then, to me also the fact of illegally going on the streets and pasting disproportionate visuals, kind of aggressive own new type of flowers and insects, is a matter of provocation I feel necessary. I may sound like the crap boring artists trying to be Mother Teresa, but disrespect is for me a source of a lot of the troubles we are facing, and it starts with the guy living in front of you. So, maybe my work with nature and some kind of violent new species is my way of pointing out what our quest of modernism created. The small uninteresting thing you crushed yesterday is today in front of you, massively disproportionate, ready to attack or heavily studied to change our little life.

I choose insects and plants as the basis of my work years ago, for a lot of different reasons and attractions. I can use this style to point out situations I disapprove of or, like I did for my show at Levine in NY, as a way to create canvases about a personal digestion of what I grew up with, talking about culture and music influences, but still using my very own language.

f. You first visited Shanghai in 2014. Did the city affect you and your work?

L. Shanghai is an incredible city, a real shock graphically and visually but also [in terms of] sounds, colours, everything. That’s why I felt the necessity to come back often and create a series inspired by the city and more specifically about the areas in the centre of Shanghai, where people were seeing their houses destructed to build brand new buildings and business centres. It’s a place where there is nothing on the walls, so for me it’s something I’m looking for when I go outside. I don’t want the usual street art boring places, I personally need to go and search for unusual spots where you have a new connection with people.

f. Where is a place in the world you’d love to work, and why?

L. Right now, I’m travelling a lot in between Asia and Europe and that’s the place I feel well.

It’s good to be back home in Paris but as soon as I’m there I need to go. I really like Asia and particularly Hong Kong where I spend more and more time, from the incredible weather to the food, architecture and place. Awesome place.

LUDO will continue to bring messages about the power and weakness of nature and its collisions with our society to the forefront.

This month LUDO released Dualité (Duality), a book focusing on his work, which has been published by Gallimard. Consisting of 224 pages of works outside and inside, photos, texts and an introduction written by Futura, the book is available worldwide. In addition, LUDO’s recent works in Shanghai are currently on display at Magda Danysz Gallery in an exhibition named Fly Me to the Moon, which will remain open until Sunday 16 May 2015.

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