Somewhere between profound metaphor and terrifying reality lies the astonishing Nature’s Revenge project by Parisian artist Ludo. Taking in the visually gleaming yet morally murky realms of genetic modification, man’s casual bastardisation of nature to his own ends, nano technology, the shady fringes of science, and the depth of awesome power nature keeps unleashing to ground us, Ludo’s stark and stunning pieces shine a penetrating light into not just a potential future but a very real present. Sweeping a digital sheen through the elemental fibers of life, his very aesthetic of tweaked perfection sucks relentless modernity into his organisms as his flowers, his plants and his animals burst forth into a seductively alien offspring bristling with eerily harmonious hardware. As his standalone visions of his signature green and metallic grey tear a prophetic oasis into the smoky cityscape, his precision winks at corporate claims to symbolism dart in and out of public spaces, all hued in the haunting textures of a dream you can’t quite work out the implications of. We got in touch – grabbed his work for this issue’s cover and did a little digging on the nature behind the revenge
What kick-started the actual moment you decided to take your operation from the desktop to the streets and how did you feel when pasting your first piece?
I was working for a company that was doing graphics and advertising based stuff and the job was killing all my time. One day, for different reasons, I had to take a break, I quit everything and decided to focus on my own things. Going out and the need of space and of course spreading my work outside was like breathing fresh air. The first paste up was awful but the energy was there and I never stopped really.
We know you studied art for a time but how much influence did studying sociology have on your art concepts in later years?
Certainly thinking too much….
Everyone has personal reasons for choosing the paste-up format, what made you choose this technique?
It was obvious for me and even more considering the tools I use. I like to prepare everything beforehand, working with paper, tape, graphite, acrylic,…then go out with the ladder and glue and just paste the piece. There is the setup then the act, I like both and keep them as separated as possible. Then I’m really bad with spray paint…
You started painting city walls a few years ago, what artists if any, did you find interesting during that initial period?
Outside, the same artists that I still find interesting today, like Bast and Neckface. I always liked what they do on the walls but also how their work is killing inside a gallery space for example. I’ve always been interested by the concept of invading spaces and artists that can do it both inside and outside with the same energy are killers.
Everyone has an interpretation of the pieces they see, what springs to mind for us are issues of genetically modified food, nano technology, the secret life of plants (1970s), and mankind’s desire to control all species. What excites you most about the Nature’s Revenge series?
All these are inspirations for sure. Mankind’s desire to control all the species that create the chaos we’re living in is kind of interesting also. The wish to control everything and keep it secured that ends up being totally overtaken by events. I’ve been researching nano technology recently, and the “co-branding” series inside bus shelters was very inspired by this. All about manipulation…What I like about this idea of Nature’s Revenge is how something that you don’t care about can evolve and almost frighten you, or make you think (even better). I’m very attracted by the contrast between the small and nice that can be dangerous and almost violent the moment after. I like to play with that.
What do you look for when searching for suitable locations for your pieces?
Size of the walls first of all, textures of the walls and if the place is clean, I try to stay away from the usual street art spots as most as possible…I simply try to look at the best locations that will give my stuff the reason to be pasted outside.
Your images are very iconic, tell us about the materials you use to create the artwork…
It depends. I start with a sketch then I use some kind of design software to help me give a digital feel to my work. Then when it’s done, I redraw again the piece. Then, for the colour I mix different acrylics to get my own green. Every pieces I create are started from scratch, I mean, I don’t use any photos found on the internet or whatever stolen ideas.
Does science fiction play a role in the concepts of Natures Revenge?
With my work, I want to speak about very real things, whatever surrounds and affects us so I think it’s not science fiction at all. With what we are living nowadays, the boundary between what was science fiction and real actual life is hard to delimit anymore.
How important is your signature green to the statements you make in the work itself?
I like to use just one colour and green is the perfect one for me, vibrant and fresh. But honestly I don’t have any interesting philosophical concepts about it, it’s just the colour I naturally use.
French street art graffiti artists seem to be amongst the pioneering groups leading the movement today. Did you imagine yourself painting walls in all cities across the globe or is it a byproduct of doing what you love to do best?
Yes exactly it’s just the evolution I want to give to my work.
You’re very active on the streets, have you ever had problems with law enforcement?
No real problems luckily. Bad encounters sometimes. It depends of the country, sometimes you can speak, sometimes you just keep silent and do your best…or pray…
Do you work with other artists much or do you prefer the lone wolf approach?
I like to be alone with my things and don’t have to care about someone else opinions.
How do you approach selecting countries where you’d like to paste your work?
Some countries are the one you want to do because of the history and what happens there like New York of course. Some are for the architectural aspect, some are for the people living there. It depends a lot in what kind of mood you’re in.
The series has a long shelf life, what would you like to be doing more of in the future?
I don’t think about it as a series actually. I use and like nature, technology and that kind of man-made things, just as others would use peoples portraits or would paint cats so it’s just that my work is very very influenced by that. The future is more about trying new techniques, new sizes, new cities but the basis of my work remains the same.
It’s my real first solo show in a pretty big space where I’m allowed to do what I want, this is the concept…This year was the first time I felt like I wanted to evolve also into a gallery space and propose something different in terms of aesthetics and without the help of any “street” environment. Most of the pieces will be only graphite and oil painting on paper. It’s pretty exciting and frightening at the same time…
The show is called “La Belle Vie”, which means to me a simple and naive life, almost selfish in a way. But in the same time, this naivety to keep it the nicest as possible result in voluntarily forgetting what really surrounds us and leave it aside the more we can.
Is there anything else you’d like to say to the LSD readers?