Entering Laurent Martin Lo’s studio, the pieces await with an alert presence. “They are more of an amulet rather than sculptures”, says the artist. “Bamboo has a special energy, it absorbs electromagnetic fields creating a peaceful atmosphere.”
Laurent Martin ‘Lo’ discovered bamboo while he was looking for a structure for interior design and he instantly fell in love with the material. “I started to manipulate bamboo and it amazed me. I spent five years experimenting in a little workshop until I decided to take the plunge and quit my job in advertising, sell my flat in Barcelona and go in search of bamboo: I travelled through India, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand… Later discovering regions in Central America where people also have a living relationship with that plant.”
From his journeys he learned different craft techniques for cutting and weaving bamboo. He immersed himself in researching the role of the plant in everyday life, acknowledging its value for cultural, emotional and spiritual development in those regions. “My interest for bamboo has to do with its dual nature, like us humans. It’s a hard but flexible material, empty and full, it’s masculine and feminine and it allows you to work with the mechanics of tension and compression, to explore shades, space and movement, delicacy, strength…”
Laurent Martin Lo’s holistic knowledge of the material is key to the amazing harmony and beauty of his sculptures. Not only does he control the technical aspect of the work with bamboo but also its biological composition and its physical response to being handled. “My work is a dialogue with bamboo. My source of inspiration is the material itself—the annual growth rings of the canes, their fibres. When I create a piece I don’t draw it first, it’s shaped while I’m working on it. There is a previous intention indeed, but from that point I mostly pay attention to how the plant reacts. I start shaping it but then I wait for three or four months for the bamboo to make its own gesture creating harmony and balance.”
Oscillation between organic forms and geometric figures allows human language to exist within the natural world. Many of his works evoke the wind, the ships, a bow. They are microcosms playing with bamboo’s flexible structure and balanced by the weight of ceramic spheres.
“The ceramic spheres are the counterpoint to mobility, to the wind— the element of bamboo. Here we have ‘tramuntana’ and in Asia they have typhoons. I use the spheres as counterweights and gravity centres. I brought them into my work after a trip to Costa Rica—what impressed me the most were the strength and energy they conveyed.”
Laurent Martin Lo’s artistic path is predominantly one of researching space and balance. As well as his mobiles, his table sculptures keep changing all the time—discovering new shapes and communicating in a very sensual way with the viewer. “The audience interacts with my work from an emotional place, from the intuition of the intention behind it— my sculptures convey my own experience with bamboo.”
The artist is connected to Empordà not only because it’s his main place of residence but also because that’s where his career began. He has shown his work in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Chorea, Belgium and Holland. This year he has three exhibitions planned in Catalonia.