Théo Lopez is not a simple artist. He is a poet who chose painting as a tool of expression of his rich and powerful creative universe. His works are striking, fresh and extremely elaborate at the same time.
In our interview Théo talks about his style and particular technique, dream collaborations, his Parisian Terrier workshop and love for Ninja Turtles!
Tell us about your Parisian projects. Where can we see your works?
Since 2008 I have been working in an artists’ collective called the “9eme concept” (9th concept), whose ambition is to exhibit different projects every day. These can be anything from group or personal exhibitions, to performances, meetings with artists or publishing agencies etc…
The collective and I both have a need for renewal and this is why we work so well together. We are used to confronting and blending our ideas. I’m drawing and painting a lot at the moment.
To see more of my own personal work though, you can go and see my second individual exhibition which is on until the 26th of July at the gallery NUNC, 3 rue d’Arras, 75005 Paris (métro Jussieu or Cardinal Lemoine)!
Otherwise, I have participated in the event “de l’art à l’Ourcq” organised by ART AZOÏ with my Terrier colleagues (our workshop), Lapin Thur and Olivia de Bona. About thirty street artists have done work on the of the quay of the Ourcq canal, from Paris to Aulney-sous-bois, it’s worth seeing. Our fresco is visible from the canal when you are at Aulnay-sous-bois (93). Closer to home, we’re hoping to organize some open days at our studio at Daumesnil in the future. If you want to visit before then though, don’t hesitate to get in touch!
What is your artistic background? How did you start painting and creating your works?
My background is in graphic design, but I chose to study visual communication after my baccalaureate, and it was during this period that I met the collective. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do at that moment; I knew that I liked graphics and the intellectual way of giving sense to an image, but I felt most like myself when I was drawing.
When I met the collective 9eme concept, and when I realized that it’s possible to live from drawing and to do commissioned work that has no set style or guidelines to follow, I had stars in my eyes, and I began to work with them immediately.
I started in 2008 when I was still a student, so I was really busy. I had to study during the week while going on artistic tours in the weekends, it lasted two years but I loved it.
Do you remember your very first creation as child and afterwards your first mural as an artist?
As far as I can remember I have always been drawing. And I have always been a fan of cartoons, I could spend hours and hours just watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. At primary school, we used to do an activity I really liked : we were learning some poems, and we had to illustrate them. This was when I started to think about what I was drawing. And then I quickly moved on to depicting some of my favorite heroes: Spiderman, Sangoku etc…
Since then, I have always been drawing and I felt pressure when I was painting my first mural!! When I arrived at the 9eme concept, I was working with artists whose work I loved! Barely 18, I found myself involved in exhibitions with stars of drawing. I didn’t feel confident but I was so proud!
My first involvement at SCRATCH PAPER was a way to step in progressively and to observe how it worked. The guys helped me a lot so I had more self-confidence and took pleasure in working!
How would you describe your style and your technique? Tell us about your creative process. How long does it take to complete a fresco, what materials do you use, etc?
My style at the moment is changing quite a lot. I won’t really be able to describe it precisely because I’m always experimenting. Basically my technique, my mood, my medium, and the environment surrounding me while I’me working, all impact my art works.
I don’t draw in the same way as I paint and vice-versa. One of the principal characteristics of my universe is “the line”. I work and model this line to create abstract forms or characters, masks, monsters, or rhythmic games…
It is the background which inspires me to depict the varying images. I love to tell stories when I create and to live as I go along with my creation. My inspirations are quite tribal and ethnic, to draw in my opinion it is to give birth to spirits and to materialize emotions.
I am experimenting with a new technique at the moment, “marbrure à la cuve” which consists of disposing some ink on the surface of a water’s basin, and to create wash and to play with rod on the surface so you can orient the ink. Then you can depose it on a piece of paper, a canvas, or an object to tint it randomly. This technique is perfect for me because I love to play with fate and rod interpret the unknown. The abstracts’ backgrounds inspired me to create forms of which I would have never thought before.
The time that it takes me is very variable as well. Sometimes I can spend two hours on a really small detail even if it is on a really large format. Even if, in general, much of my time is taken up by interpretation and thinking about what I am drawing. At the workshop, I use it quite a lot … But I always look for new techniques!
Tell us about the central characters and objects of your works. What inspired you to create them?
The characters and elements which reoccur in my artworks are spirits, souls, and emotions that I depict with lines. There are often eyes and birds but I can’t really say why. I like to portray living images with my line, so as dialogues between different characters on the paper.
Using marble has given me the chance to portray new characters; I saw myself drawing alligators, dinosaurs for the first time! But the groups of colors laid by the water on my sheet inspires me to depict these forms. Once a form makes me think of a character, it is done, I can only see and think of this character!
Is there any work in particular that you are mostly proud of?
I can’t really say that I am proud of this painting or that wall, I experiment each time so I am never sure of anything. I think we can compare the work of the artist with that of the researcher. So I am satisfied when I am inspired and when there is a clear and a comprehensive meaning, but I love as well when it is hard to create; when I have limited elements to work with.
My big canvas called “face à face à face” (face to face to face) opened my eyes to many things. I worked on this canvas of 1.10m/1.10m for two months. It has many faces that I remade so there are only little parts which are actually visible.
I realized as well that a canvas is never finished and that it is the processes of creation that is really important. The state and mood I was in while painting, the questions I asked myself in front of the artwork and what it taught me. So we can say that I am satisfied with this canvas because it helped me to develop my work, to take the next step.
Would you call yourself a street artist? Who would you like to collaborate with from the street art world, who did you collaborate with already?
I cannot really define myself as a street artist for the simple reason that my work is not present enough in the street. I work quite a lot on performance, on ephemeral work, on improvisation, on mural fresco, and many other aspects that you can find in street art but I also do a lot of work in my warm and comfortable studio! I’ve started thinking that there may come a time when I’ll do street art more seriously, but the city is a real competition for artists, it is not that easy to find a place to draw!
Collaboration between artists is a real opportunity to learn and develop! I love working on the same piece with other people, because they don’t things the same way, results are always really surprising! On the other hand, it isn’t always easy to collaborate even though it’s a great idea.
I would love to meet people like Charlie Immer, Smitheone, Blu, INTI, Curiotli, Nosego, the wizard, Clemens Behr, Rekaone, Seth, Nychos, and so many others! But I have already been lucky enough to meet and work with really talented artists, like all the crew at the 9eme concept, as well as Mast et franck Pellegrino from BleuNoir, the Blind and Pedro from Crew Nantais 100 pression, Gilbert Mazout and the akrylonumerik, Niark, Joachim romain, all the artists that I met as well during the residence of the 25th floor of Pleyel Tower. It was one of the best things!
Tell us about 9eme concept. What is it?
The 9eme concept is an artists’ collective, it is a way of thinking, it is a school, an enterprise but most of all a family, it started from a bet between the three creators, Stephane Carricondo, Ned, Jerk 45. It’s many things all at once!
Above all, they are my friends; we work together a lot, we organize lots of projects and we move to lots of different places all the time. At the beginning I dreamed of really becoming a part of the collective, but pretty soon it became a school for me, the guys had confidence in me and welcomed me even though I was only 18.
It was during this period that I started to draw on daily basis, I used so many sketch books. I was drawing everything that passed through my head, and when I showed it to people, I had nice returns to continue and go ahead, or mull over my ideas.
Meeting the guys from the collective helped me a lot, from a human and artistic point of view. Today, I have a global vision of the realization of artistic project, improvisations, and the different steps necessary for the preparation of an exhibition. But also I learnt to understand my needs and opportunities, thanks to what I saw at the 9eme concept.
Now, in parallel I also started to develop my personal career which is going to help the group as well, it is like an exchange, because indirectly there is a part of me. It’s a synergy between the individual and the group.
What inspires you in general, in your everyday life? Who would you call your personal inspiration?
I am a bit a spectator before I start my work. I observe lots of things, events, behavior, atmospheres… And I find my inspiration in many things, well actually I would say it is more the inspiration that comes to find me, as I have no rules in terms of inspiration, nothing specific. It is probably for this reason that chance plays an important role in my work, because the few times I’ve tried to start a work with a precise idea in mind, I have been really disappointed and sometimes just had to stop.
So I load up on varying images, whether they are visual, sonorous or color-based. Sometimes it happens that the inspiration comes from my dreams, but most of all it appears in front of the white paper.
In your opinion, what is the best part and the worst part of being an artist?
Being an artist is really complex and simple at the same time. It’s like keeping your childhood self, we are extremely sensitive to everything and most of all to things which might appear really banal. It is so cool because we are reactive to everything life sends our way, we take everything.
But, at the same time, it is hard to get to the essential, we would need a lifetime to go deeper in everything. We are always asking questions. But that’s just my interpretation today, we are all different and I will probably be different in 1,2, 5, 10, or 30 years.
Tell us about your upcoming projects.
We have quite a lot of projects going on at the start of the academic year, especially some artists’ residences like the one we have done on the 25th floor of the Pleyel Tower, which was great!
The beginning of autumn is going to be really busy, we are going to try to take some rest during the holidays. Nevertheless, I am waiting for your presence guys, for the “Finissage” of my exhibition “Apnée” on the 26th of July, it will start at 6p.m at Nunc gallery in Paris!
You’ll have the opportunity to see my last paintings and drawings on a marble paper, my last prints and serigraphy. And also there will be a lottery. The lot to win will be my last artwork, the one I made during the opening.
How would you describe the city of Paris? How would you create it in a fresco or a mural?
Paris is a bit of a crazy city! I am just discovering it because I arrived recently in the 12th district, I have always lived in the suburbs and I know Paris’ outskirts much better than I know the capital itself… they’re less sexy. Parisian life is quite stimulating, there are so many things to see and nice people to meet! I’ll hopefully be able to tell you more about it next time!
If I had to create a piece on the theme of Paris, I don’t really know what I would do, but I would let the chance play a big role in it. Even if we think that we know everything about this city, it is constantly surprising us!
As an artist what creative places in Paris would you advise for our readers to visit?
There are quite a lot of street art spots that have disappeared from Paris, but if there is one neighborhood where things are happening at the moment it is the 13th arrondissement. There are new walls almost every week! Also you can eat well for a cheap price, but you still have to be careful of empty restaurants, in general it’s not a very good sign… Otherwise I love the 18th arrondissement, Abbesses, there is a great tattoo salon there called BLEU-NOIR, rue Durantin.