World Artists and their Story, 27 - Lionel Scoccimaro
Lionel Scoccimaro built a snowy landscape of 40 square meters in 2009 with a number of igloo-like structures. It was made entirely of sugar cubes. In the years before he made an installation in this way in which we see Buddhist stupas, New York skyscrapers and Soviet architecture.
These artworks aren’t fysically there anymore. Luckily they are recorded on film. The making of the works required hours of painstaking repetitive work. It reminds us to children’s ability to spend hours building magnificent things, that suddenly will be destroyed to start all over again. The element of games and play comes back in all of Lionels artwork.
Lionel Scoccimaro has a preference for technically advanced and detailed objects made from diverse materials: wood, fiber, neon, plastics. He works closely with specialized craftsmen: carpainters, sawyers, airbrushers. Lionel: “The last ten / fifteen years all the works were a collaborate effort. Not one piece has been done only by myself. I do not order a craftsman to make a thing, we work it out together.”
In 2003 he started with his ‘Custom Made’ project. “It’s a hybrid of forms between three objects: the Matryoshka, the Russian doll, the cone and a weeble wobble: the toy.” He designates it as his key work. The work was shown in a gallery and he got good reactions. “It’s a fairly minimal form, quite refined, painted with patterns inspired by the whole custom culture.”
Custom culture is an American neologism used to describe the artworks, vehicles, hairstyles and fashions of those who drove and built custom cars and motorcycles in the United States from the 1950s through today. It was born of the hot rod culture of Southern California of the 1960’s – the term hot rod originated with stolen vehicles being refitted with another engine and repainted.
Surfing and skateboarding
“I painted the objects for a person as a tribute. Movie directors, stuntmen, surfers and contemporary artists. The first series of pieces launched a spirit of work. It’s a reference field tied to my own personality and my personal influences.” Lionels passion: surfing and skateboarding he could invest in this work. “All these universes weren’t in my previous work, that was more connected with what you may call ‘high art’.
Aren’t surfing and skateboarding not originally Australian and Californian and not that much French? “I’m a pure Frenchman. It doesn’t make sense to believe that these cultures are deeply Anglo-Saxon or American in particular. Modern technology has brought with it that whatever happens in the world, we feel it quickly. These cultures belong as much to us here, as to a Brazilian, an Indonesian, or a Californian.”
He documented himself, looked for examples for his paintings, learned about the art of masking and drawing techniques. Motorcycle magazines appeared to be an important source of knowledge. “There I would always find the naked woman next to the custom vehicle. It seemed necessary to me to move into this universe, and give it a surprising new dimension.”
Showing the other side of life
For each piece in this series he did a shooting session, with a girl who was similar to the people in the immediate circle of the person referenced in the piece. This led to a series of pieces, printed in the format of Chrome and Flames, the flagship magazine of this 1970’s culture. “The idea was to bring this double culture together, that of Art and Leisure.”
Thus he made surfboards, to be understood: artistic surfboards. “It interested me, to rediscover this knowledge, with a different goal. I take the technology from a certain field and I bring it to another. I try to go for the skills that some people have, without them necessarily realising that they’re creating Art.”
In the beginning he felt a kind of shame. “I was showing the other side of life, the more intimate part of my life.” But this line of thought was soon over. For 13 years already he makes a blend of custommade objects. He does this in three places: his studios in Marseille and Paris, and in Biarritz, the coast where you can surf fantastically well.
A lucky guy
Lionel loves variety in his work. If he has spent too long time with his custom made objects he likes to draw and paint again, make sculptures. “I’m happy in my studio if I can do that.”
Lionel has always been artist he says. In 1996 he graduated at the Académie de Nice. He already showed his work in galleries from 1993 on. “I’m always creating. I keep aware about what’s going on, in the world and in the art world in particular. Art life is not an easy life, but I’m living the life already twenty years. Sometimes you don’t sell well, other times you do. I feel free, although at times without money.”
Finally, what’s his philosophy? “Every time I’m happy to be involved in artwork. I feel like a child playing with toys. I love the technical aspect and I love to work together, doing new techniques. I’m lucky to be able to do my art.”