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From France to Manille |


From France to Manille

Ria de Borja - The Philippine Star

PARIS –– French painter Henri Lamy discovered the Philippines by way of a former girlfriend “who was Pinay,” he says. He traveled to the Philippines for the first time two years ago and has since fallen in love with the country (he’s been back three times). The Paris-based artist currently has an exhibit titled “Wanderlust” at the Altro Mondo Arte Contemporanea Gallery in Greenbelt, which will run until the first of November. YStyle sat down with Lamy for a quick chat.

YStyle: Have you always been an artist?

Henri Lamy: I was working in product and fashion design for a climbing clothes company. I decided to quit as the boss was emotionally unstable. By then, I had been selling canvases on the side for about five years already. I told myself that it was the safest way to keep going. I found this place, 59 Rivoli, an art squat by the city of Paris. There were 30 artists and six floors of art, and the place was open to the public. It was a good experience to show my work to the public. Then I went to Japan and took part in a Japanese expo in Yokohama.

Tell us about those five years when you were already painting.

At the beginning, I started drawing. I was inspired by comic strips. They always have exaggerated expressions on their faces, especially the mean ones, the guys who seem to be very threatening. I was inspired by the Lucky Luke comic strip. I admired the guys who looked so mean, so tough. I started with portraits. I found a knife (to use) somewhere in my house that used to belong to my father. You don’t have to wash it, you only have to wipe it on something.

Is your father an artist too?

He used to be. He decided to do something else, art production. He also wrote a novel that I based an exhibition on, shown in China. His novel is called The Fool’s War. I painted scenes from the novel for the exhibit.

You’ve exhibited in Japan, China, and now in Manila. Where else have you shown your work?

In Paris, in Lyon. I also did a residency in Aix-en-Provence and next year, I’m doing a residency near Dijon. I attended the Malasimbo Music and Arts Festival here in the Philippines where I got to paint Joss Stone and Jimmy Cliff. I am also commissioned by a man in Holland to do a series of abstracts, and I am currently showing in a gallery in Hong Kong.

What are you showing at Altro Mondo?

When I first went to the Philippines, it was the first time I discovered what a developing country was. I observed and painted the contrasts between the poor countryside, the little cities, nature, all of this stuff. I noticed how people behave in an environment that was so different from the one in Paris. Walking in the streets in Paris, you notice that most people don’t smile. They don’t seem to appreciate the life they have. But in the Philippines, they can be really poor but they’re still smiling, they’re still giving, be it their time or food, or just sharing something.

So these are the themes of your work now, the people you’ve met along your journeys in the country?

Yes. I do a kind of Neo-Impressionism with a palette knife and acrylic on canvas. I think it can be appreciated by a lot of people. And I don’t try to shock. My paintings don’t have a political issue. It’s about the purpose of life, carried with a dream, how people fulfill what they want to achieve. It’s about being happy.

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Henri Lamy’s “Wanderlust” is on display at Altro Mondo Arte Contemporanea Gallery, 3rd Level, Greenbelt 5, Ayala Center, Makati City, until Nov. 1. Visit


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