Ria de Borja talks to artist Henri Lamy about his work and passion.

French artist Henri Lamy held his first major exhibit in Manila at the Altromondo Gallery in September 2013 and at the Manifesto Gallery in March of 2014. His exhibit brought together painting and a capoeira cage performance, showcasing his skills in both. He has since been back to the country several times, particularly to paint and perform at the Malasimbo Music and Arts Festival. “I was just visiting the country with a friend of mine who introduced me to the local Filipino life, and I fell in love with its inhabitants, kindness, spontaneity, and creativity," Henri recounts. "At that time I travelled to Luzon, Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur, Cebu, Siargao and Mindoro. In the villages, I spent a lot of time with the kids, teaching them capoeira. I also discovered the Malasimbo Festival and started to collaborate as a portraitist of its headliners including Jimmy Cliff, Joss Stone, Robert Glasper, Jose Gonzales, and Ky Mani Marley.”

His work has taken him to cities like Tokyo and Geneva, and he has also staged repeated exhibits and performances in his home country of France. “The shows were about suspended times—moments that contribute to reaching a particular time in life. On one there is a black man’s face. It's curved in the wood, and painted too. It emphasizes the link between slaves and settlers in America. On another one you can see a Spanish conquistador. His head is on a wooden assemblage that cuts its body in two parts from the neck, and there is a giant nail next to his face. He looks proud and fierce.”

This month, he is doing capoeira cage painting and group painting in his hometown of Lyon. “The capoeira cage is a new concept of mine, and I find it really unique in the sense it helps build a bridge between figurative and abstract art. This is how I take risks in my process, and I love it.” The project, named Taverne-Gutenberg, involves a temporary art residence which he launched with Paris-based Filipina Maïa d'Aboville. On this venture, Henri expressed his excitement: “We invite 15 artists to stay with us until December to collaborate and occupy the space with lots of different styles. They paint the walls with us and present their works in the next three months. It’s the most exciting thing I’ve ever done because now we are a small team and we deal with the artists, press, visitors and collectors. It's a totally new game!”

Henri’s future projects include a residency in China and Thailand, workshops and auctions in Museo Pambata, community cultural programs in Mindoro, and cover art for UK drum and base artisti Roni Size. “I’ll be doing many more projects in the Philippines, which I now consider my second home,” he said.

Click here to find out more about Lamy’s capoeira cage painting: https://vimeo.com/133450241

Find out more here about Taverne Gutenberg: http://www.taverne-gutenberg.fr

© 2022 Tatler Asia Limited. All rights reserved.