Franco-Hungarian painter Mambo is taking his turn this month at creating an installation for The Box at The Standard, Hollywood. We’ve been fans of Mambo for a while, his paintings are iconic, his YouTube page is chock full of fun, and he has his own iPad/iPhone app! We are such huge fans of Mambo’s work that, in addition to The Box and The Lobby, we also begged him to paint a couple murals on our roof! We sat Mambo down to discuss his inspirations, favorite taco stand, and women’s prisons.
One of Mambo’s new murals at The Standard, Hollywood
The Standard: Tells us about your inspiration for your piece in The Box.
Mambo: The Box concept totally reminds me a painting I did 12 years ago, called “watch me” and featuring a laying woman, in a red camaïeu room, which was a tribute to Amsterdam’s red window ladies. So I decided to make a tri-dimentional adaptation of that idea. The portrait of that guy in the middle (her boyfriend) becomes an animated portrait in The Box. The pope is still there, the TV becomes a laptop and I added a mirror the make visitors be part of the piece too.
Here’s the painting I’m talking about:
“watch me” 2000, acrylic on canvas, 71*47 in.
How do you feel about your art sharing space with a live model?
I feel great and actually I have several ideas for the near future working with actors for video installations. I am in a phase, in my career, where I feel strong enough with my paint works to move my ideas to other fields, such as sculpture, installation, video and interactive programs. I am known in Europe for my paintings, street installation or for the satirical TV program I work for in France, I’ve only been in America for 6 months now, so The Box is my first step to introduce my work to US audiences and as a way to start for starting these new creative fields I have in mind. The boyfriend’s portrait, in The Box is an animated cartoon, and has been produced by Lazy Corner Pictures and the cartoon and visual effects work was made by Nicolas Chambon, Adrien Pavillard and Rafael Lamarque.
Who are some of your favorite artists?
Jean Dubuffet, Cassandre, Roy Linchenstein, Piet Mondrian, Keith Haring are major inspirations to me. Then in a more spiritual way, Picasso, Prince, Serge Gainsbourg, Jean Tinguely, Pedro Almodovar, Matt Groening, Osvaldo Cavandolli. I am also a huge fan of middle age Italian paintings, corporate logos, fabric patterns and I have a lot of respect for comedians, they are an amazing mirror of society and push the limits of what is acceptable, I love that.
What inspires you?
Human beings. My main creative fields are 1. the face (and the body) used as ideograms to express feelings. 2. the brain, the most incredible machine ever! this is what I intend to illustrate on my big scale paintings, which I describe as mental maps. I use a process made of two steps, first one is drawing a organic network made of fat lines, second one is fillings its windows with whatever comes to my mind. It is all very spontaneous and my goal is keep repeating the exercise to bring more and more feelings out of me. The other thing that is very important in my mind is to connect with people. All I do is made to capture others attention and make people asking questions themselves. I like it that way and don’t wont to give precise explanations on my artworks. I prefer everyone to understand it by himself.
“dupons ou dupont?” 2011 – 56*76cm – acrylic on paper. One of Mambo’s fantastic paintings currently on display in The Lobby of The Standard, Hollywood
What’s the best adventure you’ve ever had in your career as a artist?
I think it was probably in 1996 when I did a workshop in women’s Long Term Jail of Rennes, in France. It was a collaborative work with the theater workshop and we were doing the set for the show. The story was from Jean Genet who actually was a writer who went in jail and wrote a lot about prisoners frustrations, including sex and homosexuality. I was able to work with 6 prisoners without any supervision from the jail administration, so there was a lot of freedom of speech in the room and actually we laughed a lot. I ask them to make very small drawings and then to paint it very big, on folding screens. We even painted big dicks, made of flowers! It is a long story to tell but all I can say is that what we shared during that week of work was unbelievable and the letters I had from them after that made me cry. I learned a lot about humans and women and I will never forget these 6 ladies.
Describe your perfect day in Los Angeles. Where would you go? Eat? Play?
Starts in my office, listening some jazz, pop or funk on my vinyl turntable with vintage warm sound, drinking coffee, wasting time on Facebook and making drawings. Then pick up a burrito and a hot dog at Yuca’s on Hillhurst (Yes, I live in Los Feliz) and go to Griffith Observatory to eat it watching the city and the ocean. Then back to the studio and work on big paintings listening all kinds of music very loud. By the end of the day, back to office and work on some video editing or computer visuals. Go out for dinner with my wife and son in Franklin village at Taiyo’s Japanese restaurant. But I also love to cook dinner at home with good wine and friends.
What’s up next for you?
Next is my solo show at Watanabe Fine Art Gallery in Osaka, Japan, starting April 9th. I will also be painting live there.
Mambo’s work will be on display in The Box at The Standard, Hollywood through mid-April. In addition to his work being installed at The Standard, Mambo will be one of the artists participating in The Santa Monica Museum of Art’s annual benefit, INCOGNITO, on Saturday, March 17th.