The artist paints under the name, Lasco, and is specialised in prehistory and rock art. He is seen here painting in spraypaint at Le Creusot, Bourgogne-France-Comté, the Third Chinese Horse (a Przewalski-type horse) found within the Axial Gallery at Lascaux Cave, a network of caves containing hundreds of approximately 17,000-year-old paintings, drawings, engravings and sculptures of Palaeolithic regional animal, flora and fauna.
Here we see a spray-painted stencilled Przewalski-type horse that Lasco made in around 2016, in the neighbourhood of La Croix-Rousse, Lyon.
Over 600 parietal paintings cover the interior walls and ceilings at Lascaux, which are the subject of the Lascaux Cave Paintings Symposium.
Spotted horses at Place Colbert, Lyon 1st arrondissement, as originally painted in Pech Merle cave, Occitania region, France. They’re around 25,000 years old. The painting is made with a mixture of manganese oxide and barium oxide, as well as a small amount of charcoal. The charcoal is what allowed scientists, led by Michel Lorblanchet, to perform carbon-14 dating.
Please can you tell us a little about how your work is a reflection on our origins.
A fairly complete cross-view between an archaeologist and my work as a street artist, is the book, Polygraphe(s), approches métissées des actes graphiques, n°4/2022.
I began to become more interested in cave art during my science studies. What I felt during visits to truly decorated caves motivated me to make these ancestral drawings accessible to the general public, and to raise awareness of this prehistoric art. I started to use city walls to paint Paleolithic-inspired animals in an anachronistic way to raise questions about our origins, and that of art.
This example is interpreted from work painted in the Marsoulas Cave in southwestern France, near Marsoulas in the Haute-Garonne, a small cave notable for its archaeological wealth, including Paleolithic cave paintings and ornaments from the Magdalenian. It consists of a straight gallery about 100 m long with parietal art along the entire length of the cave. Lasco’s interpretation is located at 54 rue de la Butte-aux Cailles, 75013 Paris.
Ideally, I look for walls with rough edges and cracks near street furniture to visually establish the dialogue between this Paleolithic motif and the contemporary urban environment, highlighting the paradox between age-old art that we carefully preserve and graffiti that is banned. I reinterpret, create and contemporanise Przewalski’s horses, Namibian rock giraffes, steppe bison, and other animals, using various artistic techniques: spray paint, freehand drawings, stencils, acrylic markers and bibliographic studies to give my pieces the required authenticity. On my Instagram, I popularise science by mentioning, in the caption details on the animals represented, the caves which inspired it, the dates, anecdotes, locations.
Your work imitates the primacy of cave painting and graffiti, as well as its natural support, the rock face. Are prehistoric cave paintings art or vandalism?
The answer does not seem to me to be dichotomous and I therefore prefer to leave it open, and everyone form their opinion according to their reflection and their sensitivity.
Currently the approach in my work is rather to encourage questions about this question and the origins of art than to answer it rigorously.
I wrote a poem in 2018 published in Les Cris des Murs by Adèle Alberge (Editions du Poutan), which explained the concept of my prehistoric street art, which leaves the question hanging, as follows:
From prehistoric caves to our most daring architecture,
Visual arts and sciences intertwine on our walls.
Extraction of organic or mineral pigments from the soil,
Even the synthetic molecules trapped in our aerosols,
Cro-Magnon painters and Sapiens graffiti artists embraced the same fortunes,
Natural cavities or urban walls as a place of common expression.
Leaving a mark for their contemporaries and future generations,
Ephemeral, eternal, colourful monochrome, masterpiece or nature.
Combining knowledge and intuition, combining observation and imagination,
Inviting reflection, a shrug, a smile, an emotion.
If blase replaced carbon 14 to date the era,
That the millennia have made the aurochs disappear,
Anachronism as a free guardian of memory,
Cave or vandal art since prehistory…
Read the original French version of Lasco’s poem, here.
The original to Lasco’s work can be found at Altamira Cave at Santillana Del Mar in Cantabria, Spain. It was discovered in 1879 by Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola, an amateur archaeologist who owned the land where the Altamira cave exists.
When you make your work do you also mimic the origins of cave art and enter a trance state and send your soul into the otherworld to make contact with the spirits and try to obtain their benevolence?
As with the Paleolithic, the mineral support is my favourite canvas: that of the walls which make up and structure our urban landscapes of the twenty-first century. My “parietal street art” using aerosol sprays is expressed outdoors, and is most often produced illegally. I am not looking for any particular protection other than the rigour with which I prepare my nocturnal excursions. I am not against the luck that we can induce but I have a Cartesian approach on this point. I don’t go into a trance, on the other hand on the artistic part when I paint in the street and when I prepare my work in advance, I make sure to have a gesture of letting go to obtain a natural movement and that this is reflected in my paintings. This letting go is not always easy to achieve in the heat of the moment, but I seek it. For my signature for example I found it by dipping my finger directly in paint and painting my blase [graffiti name] without trying to obtain lettering but rather wanting the signs to be natural in their movement and identifiable as drawings simply by obscuring the alphabet, for example by transforming the “aux” into “o” to only play on its sound and its circular shape. I thus obtained a global signature composed of natural and fluid gestures where each figurative element is traceable in a single movement.
Cueva de las Manos (Cave of Hands) is a cave and complex of rock art sites in the province of Santa Cruz, Argentina. The art was created in several waves between 7,300 BC and 700 AD. Bone pipes were used for spraying the paint on the wall.
What is your favourite cave painting series, The Altamira Cave Paintings, Spain. … Lascaux, France. …The Apollo 11 Cave Stones, Namibia. … Kakadu National Park and Other Rock Art Sites, Australia. …The Lower Pecos Rock Art in Texas and Mexico. … Cueva de las Manos, Argentina?
I don’t really have any favourites: each cave has its specificity, its sensitivity. I certainly have a particular affection for the little Przewalski horse of Lascaux because it is the first graff that I reinterpreted and placed in the street, but I also really like the punctuations which can be composed of an animal as for horses punctuated by the Pech Merle cave. I developed a fondness for bison as my street art adventure progressed through the multiplicity of possible representations, and worked a lot on the lines and ochres for this species. The felines are very delicate in their drawings and very interesting to create like at Chauvet or Pech Merle, without forgetting rarer animals like the Namibian giraffes or even the Cosquer penguins. I also find the information that we can have thanks to positive or negative hands, like in Argentina, fascinating.
Interpretation of work found in the Hall of the Bulls or the La Salle des Taureaux, at the Lascaux Caves, Dordogne.
Lasco’s Instagram is @lasco_69.