Interview with: François-Xavier
François-Xavier Laloi is a 27 year-old artist born in Reims in France. Over his student years and his encounters, he was able to find an artistic identity and a distinct concept. Now as a french-expat living in Italy his practice is living a new-breath in continuity of his earliest works. It's still anchored in his own concept : the reclamation process of salvaged materials implemented in sculptural compositions.
Welcome Francois-Xavier, I would like to start this interview from the beginning, do you remember which artist or which artwork moved something inside you when you were a child?
First of all, I would like to thank you for allowing me my full range of expression. I can start saying that I make my first steps into the art world by discovering some great artists of modern art such as Salvador Dali, René Magritte or Kandinsky. Obviously, now I realize that they are the most well-known artists of the world and it means that as a child, I didn't really have an artistic education or at least a contemporary art education.
And then? How have your approach and references changed growing up?
Then, I started to raise contemporary art in art-history class in high school. Firstly, I thought it was just a way to break the rules by trying to be provocative just like Wim Delvoye and his tattooed pigs. I thought it was great, but it seemed unattainable for me. Therefore, I remained with a vision of art really fragile, even when I arrived at the Beaux-Arts of Nîmes I painted such figurative art but it didn't take long to change. I remember meeting at a conference an important name of contemporary art; Claude Viallat. That was the day I started to change all my practice and my way of seeing the role of contemporary art.
A few years later, another meeting has once again moved something inside me; Abraham Cruzvillegas a Mexicain artist came in Nîmes to expose his project "Autoconstriction approximante vibrante retroflexe" and I was fortunate to have the opportunity to assist him. He brought me an artistic letting go and also generated many questions about the significance of found objects that I used as a medium, even today.
How would you describe your practice to someone who doesn't know you? What are the recurring elements, themes, concepts you refer to?
First of all, I described myself as a sculptor but I know that I'm not exactly what we can expect from a sculptor. In my opinion, this can be explained by the instruction I received at the Beaux-Arts of Nîmes. My practice is somehow rooted in the concept of the French Supports/Surfaces movement and its idea to play with the notion of painting-sculpting. This movement questions components that make a paint medium and it tries to consider them in their original context. Thus, a painting just gets a surface where it's possible to connect other elements that we can't usually find in a painting. This is for me the concept that best summarizes my practice, a painting which isn't just a painting, a sculpture which isn't only a sculpture.
Usually each artist has a different modus operandi, what is yours? How did your projects start and how do they develop?
My modus operandi always had an important place in my creative process. It can best be described as a kind of walk for hunting, such as a mushroom hunting for connoisseurs. Some sort of addiction to an impulsive research of the best mushroom species but, for my part my mushrooms are instead, discarded objects. I became a hunter in search of meagre treasures that nobody wanted to see and I removed it from their sight. But in a sense it's to better show them their responsibility in this regard. I can say that this procedure came to me when I met Abraham Cruzvillegas in 2016 and it sort of stuck to me until today. Of course, any parameters have since changed, for example my move in southern Italy this year. From now on, I have to find discarded objects lost in the sea but it makes it more poetic because I don't have any choice, I have to deal with what it wants to give me...
What function do you attribute to your works and why?
One of the first functions of my work it's precisely to refocus attention on the consequence of environmental pollution. But in another sense, it's also a way to revalue this waste and talk about the place of the sea in our world. It gives us so much every day and even our own trash is for me a gift of the sea. In a small way, I try to make a difference by shifting these lost items in another field; that of contemporary art and so turn them into artefact valuable.
We are at the end of this short interview, would you like to add something about your research and your art that has not emerged previously?
Maybe we can end with some Italian saying that best define my work :
« Se desideri qualcosa le rocce sul fondo del mare te lo portano come un dono, perché quello che tu dai al mare, il mare te lo restituisce al centuplo dopo un po di tempo. »