laurent martin “lo”
1955, Paris, France
The gravity-defying bamboo sculptures by Laurent Martin “Lo” swing in the air, drawing curves of harmony like the gracious strokes of Chinese calligraphy. His creations immerse the viewer in the physical and sensorial virtues of the organic material. Closely bound to the forces of nature, Lo starts shaping each sculpture manipulating living bamboo. Following the knots and fibres of the plant, the sculptures’ structure is shaped using tension and fishing rods. The bamboo is then dried for months, exposed to the strong Mediterranean elements. This intervention is the basis for the final pieces which are constructed with the organic material, fishing lines and metal and ceramic weights. Like Calder’s mobiles, the sculptures follow strict mathematical laws of movement and balance. His manipulation of the bamboo plants from solid canes to thin and articulating contours, creates mobile sculptures where the artwork consists of not only the bamboo itself, but also the intangible hollow space within and the shadows and silhouettes they project. A fragile harmony is achieved through opposites: flexibility and strength, fullness and void, light and shadow, movement and quietness.
Born in France, Lo trained as a visual artist and for many years worked as a creative director in advertising and fashion. Lo’s first encounter with bamboo was completely circumstantial, but as he recalls “it was love at first slight”. Bamboo became his obsession, a passion so strong that drove him to set out on a journey of discovery which he refers to as his Bamboo Routes.
In 2004 he set out for Southeast Asia, attending the World Bamboo Congress in Delhi. From there he travelled to remote areas in Thailand, Vietnam and Laos, learning old techniques from the communities for whom bamboo is an essential resource. Beyond craftsmanship, Lo learned the strong spiritual and emotional charge within bamboo. In 2011, with the support of the World Bamboo Organisation, he began his second journey to Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. He studied the spatial properties of bamboo and met well-known members of an international community using contemporary techniques to build bamboo structures, including Architect Martín Coto and Engineer Mercedes Rodriguez. His final trip was to Indonesia in 2012, where he discovered the work of John Hardy in Bali. Hardy would invite Lo to give lessons in “bamboo art” at his Green School and Green Village and to develop a project during bamboo’s growing season.
Through his travels, Lo developed deep insight and knowledge into bamboo’s properties as well as traditional and contemporary techniques to grow and work with the material. Beyond its physical characteristics such as flexibility, resistance, density and lightness; it was the spiritual properties of bamboo that would captivate him and become the soul of his poetic creations.
Laurent Martin “Lo” is member of the Royal British Society of Sculptors and currently lives and works in Spain. He is represented by Puerta Roja in Asia since 2015.