The following story is typical of a modern artist: at the age of seventeen, the decision is taken to become an artist; the family is against it, believing their child will die from hunger; and the child leaves home to make his dreams come true. Maybe some people haven’t heard this story before, but it is inspirational and its protagonist is the French artist Guillaume Bottazzi.
The French fine artist Guillaume Bottazzi is holding his first exhibition in Hong Kong, where he is showing 23 recent large scale works in three exhibition halls at the Hong Kong Central Library.
The second part of this inspirational story is that during the next five years the protagonist, Guillaume Bottazzi, became a full-time, internationally known artist, who gained fame and fortune, producing over 40 works in public spaces.
I was surprised by Guillaume Bottazzi’s modesty when I met him for the first time. Despite his reputation and his rich international experience, he is as shy and simple as a young man. Despite the emphasis he places on the art of the previous four centuries and despite his international reputation, he describes himself as a young artist, and when he says that his work is the expression of a great idea he does not say it with the tone of authority but he looks at you with a serious expression and tells you, smiling shyly, that “I want the public to have its own view, you should use your own imagination”.
I do not understand Guillaume Bottazzi’s many works, but I feel very comfortable with them, almost at peace. Looking at the lines and shapes that float against a monochrome background makes you really want to ask the artist what they mean and what ideas they convey. Then, as you continue your visit of the exhibition, you realise that none of the paintings have a title. When I quizzed the artist, he answered that the graphic lines are not physical references but carry with them their own emotions and make you organise your thoughts. Asked about the atmosphere he wants to create, the artist answers “I want to know what you think”.
To discuss this I take as an example the most colourful painting with a plain background that fills an entire wall. Here is the resulting exchange: I said that in this painting I saw a kind of prehistoric microbe, with shells. He listened carefully and nodded, non-committal, finally saying that his works are “the freedom of painting” and draw something by themselves. The painting often reveals transparent objects, distilling light and shadow in a traditional way and then you notice that the angles of light projection are in fact irrational, that the light comes from every direction, vertically and horizontally, in scattered films. It is a creation that refuses to take physics into account. The artist says he just wants to create an atmosphere of the image, so that it can interact with the environment.
I would say that Guillaume is a serious painter, from the way he dresses to the way he carries on a conversation, but we shouldn’t be fooled by appearances. He is the first to have come to Hong Kong for an exhibition and be prepared to talk directly to visitors. He is also personally leading workshops during the exhibition, where you can meet him and enjoy a rare creative experience. The work produced during the workshops will be shown in the exhibition hall.
In 2011, Guillaume Botazzi gave a marvellous new look to the Miyanomori International Art Museum at Sapporo in Japan. He spent three months producing a 900 m² painting on the outside walls of the museum, using the red, orange and yellow colours that are his mark. It is currently the biggest painting in Japan. Four documentaries are being shown in the exhibition, one of which explains for the first time the process of producing the work.
Finally, I asked the painter to choose one of his favourite works in the exhibition, so that I could take a photograph of him in front of it. He answered that “My favourite work is not in this exhibition, because it hasn’t been created yet; it is the next one that I’m going to paint”. I was now used to his way of replying, so I didn’t panic. I chose a painting with a bright pink background on which several circles resembling floating white bubbles were painted. Guillaume Bottazzi stood in front of the picture, demonstrating that he thought it was an interesting choice.
I told him “I think pink resembles your character, that’s why I chose the painting”. He replied: “Pink is my favourite colour, it creates a feeling of happiness; I want my paintings to make people happy…”
Guillaume Bottazzi ‘Wonderland’ “French May 2016”
21st May – 5th June 2016
Exhibition Hall, 1-3, Hong Kong Central Library
Chaubau – Scarcity Hong Kong – Mai 2016
Official website of Guillaume Bottazzi, visual artist.
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© Guillaume Bottazzi - Those who wish to copy images can contact: ADAGP Paris