Women’s rights matter more than a World Cup

Iranian football has stood by its women, supporting a fundamental social revolution

“I’ll be cut from the national team in the worst of scenarios. No problem. I would sacrifice this status for even a single Iranian women hair. Shame on you for killing so easily. Long live Iranian women”

The words of Sardar Azmoun, the Bayer Leverkusen player nicknamed ‘Messi of Iran’, have torn through a veil of silence that has become impossible to sustain. The leading light of the Carlos Queiroz national team wrote this harsh social statement after the murder of 22-year-old Masha Amini, who was killed, according to non-governmental reconstructions, by Iranian religious police for improperly wearing a headscarf.

The mass demonstrations that followed this event led to about 100 deaths and more than 1,500 arrests in the squares of Tehran and many other cities. The protests involved thousands of women who symbolically decided to remove their veils and cut off locks of hair. This wave of reactions led to the murder of one of the prominent faces of the popular uprising, 20-year-old Hadis Najafi, who was killed by six gunshots.

The noisy silence of Iranian sportsmen was broken by Azmoun and, earlier, by an Iranian football legend, the ‘Maradona of Asia’ Ali Karimi. The former Bayern Munich and Schalke 04 player called for an active stance from his more than 12 million followers. A staunch opponent of the current government, Karimi called for distrust of government lies and pleaded with the army to avoid confrontation with civilians. Now Karimi has been called an ‘insurgent’ by some pro-government agencies and has returned to risk for his own safety, as already happened in many other times like, for example, the battles against state support for radical militia groups in Lebanon, Iraq, and Gaza and the ban on women entering stadiums.

Karimi’s heir Azmoun, along with the national teammates, followed up his words of denunciation with a significant act of demonstration. Shortly before the match played against Senegal, Queiroz’s team covered symbols and references to their country with black jackets, staging a collective mourning. Azmoun then spoke out again in a lengthy Instagram post dedicated to Iranian women’s volleyball, praising the players for their courage in confronting and subverting taboos and prejudices on a daily basis. “I hope the women of my country can stop suffering,” was the closing line of his text.

The Leverkusen striker right now is seriously risking his participation in the Qatari World Cup-a sacrifice that, according to his words, he will be proud to make for the greater good. All the country’s football elite has taken a firm stand during this time of social precarity (almost all members of the national team’s roster have blacked out their profile pictures), sided with Iranian women and their rights. Turning their backs on the fearful silence, Azmoun and his teammates have demonstrated, once again, how sportsmen can be the most powerful tools for inspiring collective courage.

Youtube
Text by Gianmarco Pacione


Carla Calero, skateboarding as a therapeutic art

The Spanish skater who lives the board as a form of collective expression and personal balance

Skating helps me, it allows me to find a daily escape, to enter a world where I can be constructive and not destructive, where I can alleviate my relationship with depression. I think it’s important to talk about it, I think it’s important to share such a sensitive topic, also to understand the many, many functions of this form of personal expression.” There are physical and mental spots, there are runs and tricks that transcend from videos and likes, from achievements and notoriety, becoming mobile platforms in which you can calm your thoughts, recharge your essence, turn adrenaline into harmony.

Carla Calero talks about it with an unassuming naturalness that tastes of sincerity and example, of flips and manuals, opening the doors to a passion that is marking much more than her Parisian days, of a sport that has quickly become culture, identity. In the end it’s all a matter of balances, this young Spanish-born skater suggests, it’s a matter of complex, harsh balances to be managed on the asphalt surface, as well as in the emotional depths. “This is not just a sport. The board helps me get out of the house when I don’t want to, it allows me to express who I am. It’s a way of thinking that applies to life: you never give up, you keep trying, sometimes you fail, but you keep going until the end of each day.”

A philosophy that encompasses and involves the most diverse spheres, from art to music, from fashion to photography: universes that continuously intertwine in the ironic imagery of this skater. A philosophy that, above all, has no face or nation, as Carla explains by rhyming travel and human connections: “I’ve been to so many places thanks to skateboarding, thanks to the network of relationships it has allowed me to build around Europe. From Helsinki to London, from Berlin to Paris…. Basically, it’s always about sharing and spreading a culture, a mentality. About ten years ago I started for this reason, thanks to some friends who pushed me to try. At that time, I felt a great feeling of joy, of comfort, and I haven’t stopped since.”

Raised in Madrid, Carla soon became a globetrotter and now lives in communion with the streets, with their geometric voids and solids, with steps and benches that take on the appearance of blank pages on which movements, sounds, creations can be etched. She embodies an ancient spirit of rebellion, the one theorized in mid-twentieth-century California, allowing herself to be influenced by the testimonies of others and, at the same time, influencing with her own gestures, with her own, almost unconscious, power. “On the board I feel like there are no problems around, I feel good with myself, I can free my mind. I don’t have a favorite spot, because any spot populated by nice people and surrounded by a nice environment automatically becomes the perfect one. One of the most rewarding things about skateboarding is watching the evolution of the people around me. It’s great to see them start, improve, and then all of a sudden realize that they’re killing it! Talking about their lives, their sacrifices, their relationship with skateboarding, helps me grow and to love this culture even more.”

This project is supported by CAT WWR
Skater Carla Calero
Photography Rise Up Duo
Video Riccardo Romani
Text by Gianmarco Pacione


Fight Dreams in Tulum

Muay Thai is a daily dream and challenge

Christina Belasco has been documenting women’s amateur Muay Thai fighter, Jeannie Nguyen for a month in preparation for her first international fight in Tulum, Mexico. Jeannie decisively won this fight by TKO in the second round. The California based fighter has a record of 10-3 and quit her full time day job earlier this year to focus all her efforts on turning pro. She trains and is a coach at the Thai Boxing Institute in Mar Vista, Los Angeles. This reportage is a dive into her life.

5pm in Tulum, and the sky filled with golden side light as the sun started to set. The air was thick and tropical as Rumble in The Jungle began as the first fighters stepped through the ropes into the ring. Jeannie Nguyen was one of such fighters on this day. She is an amateur women’s Muay Thai fighter who traveled to Tulum taking part in the event for her first international fight.

Muay Thai is a striking art that utilizes kicks, knees, punches, elbows, and clinching, which is why it is referred to as the art of eight limbs. The art originated in Thailand dating back to the Sukhothai dynasty in the 13th century and has a culture that is steeped in Buddhist tradition and lore.

At first glance Muay Thai may seem a vicious combat sport, but the deeper you come to know the culture the more you realize how intimate the endeavor truly is. Moments leading up to the fight are a quiet intensity that builds to a roar. A sharp focus and willpower that calls for the deepest of gut checks. A beautiful dance, that yes, is also brutal, filled with rhythm, power, and flow.

Jeannie spoke to me about her perspective of fighting from a place of abundance within, and how important it is to enter the ring pure of heart. “It’s all about gratitude and celebrating where you are in your own fight journey. It’s not about proving yourself or having the biggest ego or any negative emotion.”

It is certain that this mentality not only fosters respect for her opponents, but also a clear mind and inner confidence that helps her to perform better. “The best feeling is when you’re able to achieve a flow state in the ring. You’re not panicking, you’re focused, analytical, and able to use all of your weapons,” said Jeannie.

She won her fight in Tulum by TKO in the second round, and dominated the fight with her clinch. Her record is now 10-3, and she plans to compete next in Phoenix, Arizona at the US Muay Thai Open Championships.

Ph & text by Christina Belasco
IG @belascophoto
Atlhete Jeannie Nguyen
IG @jeanjeanjeannie


Watchlist: ‘América vs América’

The Netflix series that dances between history and the present of the legendary Club América

“En momento como este es cuando dices: ah que bonito es el fútbol, porque es un deporte donde la imaginación justifica los resultados”. Imagination and result. Mysticism and rationalism. Elements seemingly so distant, yet so interpenetrating in the Mexican football universe. In order to watch the Netflix series ‘América vs América’ we need to be aware of this concept, above all we need to be aware that we are not dealing with a simple sports documentary, but with a more complex output.

In fact, this production is a journey into Mexican society and its evolution throughout the 20th century; it’s a magnifying glass on the human anteater of Mexico City, a land of political and economic balances, histrionic entrepreneurs and passionate fans; it’s the set of folkloric biographies and ingenious nicknames: narrative strands that continuously and irretrievably channel into the mythical azulcremas uniform of Club América.

From ‘Canarios’ to ‘Aguilas,’ from minor team to top continental club. Thanks to a convincing dualism between past and present, the Club de Fútbol América’s facets are portrayed in what seems like an Osvaldo Soriano’s romance. Or rather, a soap opera. Yes, because the modern greatness of the ‘Eagles’ owes much, if not everything, to the king of Mexican soap operas and television: Emilio Azcárraga Milmo, a businessman who in the early 1960s picked up the Club from the bottom of the Primera División and changed its history forever.

Jumping between the construction of the monumental Estadio Azteca and contemporary focuses on the turbulent benches of the elegant Santiago Solari and the irascible ‘Piojo’ Herrera, ‘América vs. América’ is a tasty compendium of an exotic and crazy football story, a visual novel that deserves to be part of our Watchlist and to be savored in all its nuances.


Wild wild East in Hungary

Rodeo is taking root in the heart of Europe, thanks to a breeders family

8 seconds. It’s an elusive moment in life, but there are times when 8 seconds last forever – for example, on the back of an 800-kilogram bull. Anyone who has ever tried to ride such a large, wild behemoth and experienced this incomparable feeling knows what it is like when the outside world ceases to exist and time becomes an incomprehensible concept.

Bull rodeo, which is a nationally-televised event with a high-prize money in the USA, is still in its infancy in Hungary, but every year it captivates more and more people, thanks to an enthusiastic Hungarian family.

A stars and stripes flag is waving on the caravan, and a western rider is sitting next to it. The heat is unbearable, straw bales stare up at the sky piled up next to the dusty road, girls in checkered shirts and cowboy hats pulled over their eyes walking around the ranch. The riders in their full battle regalia, some of them make a cross, mutter a quick prayer. And after looking around, they acknowledge with satisfaction that the arena is slowly filling up. The clowns are painted, the gate openers, the judges and the announcer are in place, the first bull is already in the stall waiting for the dance to finally begin.

If you think we’re somewhere in Texas, you’re wrong. The venue is the Hell on Hooves Ranch in Monorierdő, Pest county, Hungary, where the second round of this year’s bull rodeo competition – organized by the Hungarian Rodeo Association – is currently taking place. The association has been organizing national and international bull rodeo competitions in Hungary and Central Europe for years.

In 2022 two shows were held, one in Nagytarcsa, and the other in Monorierdő. I first arrived 5 years ago with a good deal of doubt, but with enthusiasm and childlike curiosity. The father of Hungarian rodeo and the president of the Hungarian Rodeo Association, József Nádori (alias Tyuxi) hosted me at the estate. He and his family have been engaged in livestock breeding for more than twenty-five years: they started with cattle, and then came the Quarter Horse.

The rodeo was kind of a childhood dream for Tyuxi: Spaghetti Western provided the impetus, and the dream became a reality more than 10 years ago. The organization got off to a rocky start however, because while the sport has a huge tradition in the United States, Tyuxi and his family had to gather information from the internet and newspaper articles…

Tyuxi proudly tells me that the number of spectators increases by 20 percent every year. He is the happiest about the fact that the show is spreading by word of mouth and the popularity of the sport is growing. Today, the number of riders increased to about a hundred. And to the skeptics, he can only say one thing: come and see that they are indeed capable of organizing high-quality competitions, here, in the heart of Europe – no need to travel to Texas.

Credits: István Fekete
istvanfekete.com
IG @istvanakosfekete


Nuove Arene

Around athletic effort everything changes without changing, Massimiliano Camellini’s photo project explains

What emerges from the darkness of a modern arena? A moment of individual transfiguration, a collective sharing session. Ancient materials for new tools of play. Worked wood that touches small black spheres, that caresses them, that accompanies them first gently, then violently, to a promised land of crossed cotton and passing joys.

The photographic film is imprinted with muscular and emotional tensions, with bodies floating silently on noisy wheels, filling them with force and speed. They are soft and circular movements, direct and violent. They are shadows of past and present actions, of feats and failures that return and return, here and everywhere, like cyclical purifying performances. Shot after shot, today’s gladiators cross their masses, their sticks, their visions, eventually generating timeless, faceless duels.

What emerges from the darkness of a modern arena? A personal challenge that has never stopped taking shape, that will never stop doing so. From the blood-streaked sands and sword clangs of ancient Rome, to field hockey frescoed in an anonymous provincial arena, through an endless spectrum of efforts, challenges, goals. Each time a new introduction. Each time a new epilogue. Waiting for the near or distant future, waiting for a new arena to inhabit.

Credits: Massimiliano Camellini
massimilianocamellini.org
Text by Gianmarco Pacione


Liverpool is life

Kisses, affection and Dua Lipa: a visual journey among the ‘Scousers’ before the last Champions League final

Champions League Final. One of the most impressive events in the contemporary sporting world, a chaotic mix of physical and emotional energies, anthropological and social nuances. MT Kosobucki’s camera wanted to portray all the complex components of this majestic football celebration; he wanted to dissect them among the streets of Paris, crystallizing the long afternoon that preceded the turmoil in the Parc des Princes and the 1-0 victory of Madrid’s ‘Blancos’ against Liverpool and its ‘Scousers’ tribe.

It’s precisely the ‘Scousers’ who are the protagonists of this visual reportage. Men who in the common imagination represent the epitome of hooligans culture, but who in the eyes of this young American photojournalist represented much more. Born and raised in a football environment (strange to say for an overseas boy), MT recounts his Parisian experience in these words.

“I was in Paris for a master’s degree in photography. A Danish friend of mine pitched me the idea of enjoying the fan zone during the pre-match. He’s a Liverpool fan and played football with me during college. I’m a Chelsea fan, but I said why not, in order to experience that unique event. The entrance to the fan zone was through a small gate, some Liverpool fans were trying to ask questions to the local policemen who either did not answer or spoke French. There was already some of the tension that would erupt a few hours later, there were bad vibes. Inside the fan zone everything magically changed. There was a pure, innocent, almost childlike energy emanating from thousands of middle-aged men. I was struck by the hugs, the kisses on the cheeks to the notes of Dua Lipa…. The limits and taboos of masculinity in that context seemed to be dissolved to zero. I’m well aware that around that context other things must surely have happened, but I captured what I saw. And I saw men drunk with excitement, able to break down ultrasecular behavioral barriers with acts of love that were so natural and so powerful. I saw also another powerful image: a gypsy woman begging for money from a couple young men amidst all the chaos; to me it was a visual manifestation of the economic imbalance and corruption within UEFA and world football as a whole. In my time in Europe, I understood the difference between the fandoms of major U.S. and European sports. My first game was at the Vicente Calderón in Madrid, then I was several times at Stamford Bridge: here there is no separation between normal life and sports life, in the US the sporting event is an escape from the everyday, here your team is the everyday, it’s life. And the ‘Scousers’ are a perfect example of this concept.”


Miko Lim, little stories to narrate big worlds

The American filmmaker and photographer who is painting the contemporary sports imaginary through commercials, films and documentaries

“For me, it’s about telling and showing big worlds through small stories,” Miko Lim tells from his LA studio, revealing the most secret, yet accessible, of the ingredients that have made his productions admired on smartphones, computers and big screens around the globe.

Miko tells us about humans and sports stories. Stories that chronicle much wider, cross-cutting conditions. He tells us of visual poems, set in fascinating indoor spaces and sublime outdoor vistas. He tells us of lenses that delve into the athletic and existential flow to extrapolate common paradigms, or to inspire them. “I like to think and hope to do things that no one has done yet,” confides the two-time Clio Award winner, “The important thing is to start from curiosity, from what interests me most about the subject I am portraying. This is the basis of everything and is connected to the desire to always find new, alternative perspectives….”

Alternative is the career of a visionary who has long been marking the global sports imagery. A versatile artist who, despite being just 40 years old, can already count a long series of career watersheds and personal breakthroughs behind him. “In my 20s I was a medical student in Los Angeles, I was supposed to be a doctor. Everyone around me treated the human body like a machine. The philosophy was: if you fix it it’s fine, if you don’t fix it you throw it away. I realize that a doctor has to think like that, but I couldn’t do it. So I fell into a depressive vortex and decided to abandon that path. Around the same time I found an Internet advertisement for an unspecified movie studio. Shortly thereafter I started my internship there and found out that my bosses were Angelina Jolie and Billy Bob Thornton.

Then the further encounter with luck, or rather, artistic fate, “I was bringing coffees, I was the least important figure on the camera department team. Out of nowhere an argument on the set led to a photographer quitting, and so I found myself with the camera in my hands, ready to shoot. Suddenly I could be my own boss, I could take portraits of actors and actresses, it was the real ‘step in’ in this world….”

Fast forward to a few years later, New York City, Miko has risen to one of the most sought-after fashion photographers in the Big Apple (and beyond). From coffee pods to Vogue and Rolling Stones covers, his rise has been as relentless and frenetic as the travels and rhythms to which his camera has been subjected. The burnout process, however, is quelled by a special deus ex machina: the sports element. “It was all exciting, cool and glamorous, but at the same time I was wearing myself out. I had reached a point where I couldn’t wait to get off the set to devote myself to my great passion, sports. I grew up surfing, played basketball at the collegiate level, then discovered climbing and it completely captured me. Just by climbing in Yosemite I realized that I wanted to combine these hobbies with my work, that I wanted to completely change focus.”

Patrick Mahomes, Paul Pogba, Anthony Davis, Shaunae Miller-Uibo, Russell Westbrook… These are just a few of the international stars that today, a decade after that choice matured in the middle of the Sierra Nevada, Miko Lim has managed to celebrate in works commissioned by giants such as Adidas, Oakley, Disney, Reebok and Nike. “When I direct these athletes I try to create collaboration. I don’t treat them as inanimate objects. I tell them that we are a team, that we all want to win on set, and when mutual esteem is established everything becomes easier: the athletes themselves come up with certain movements, certain situations that they know are more aesthetic than others. When I stand next to these athletes I always feel that I’m learning something new.”

And Miko’s sporting learning process to this day is not limited to shared lines and compositions, but exudes in the practical learning of the gesture: a progressive study based on the desire for others’ naturalness and authenticity. “Although I have always done sports in life, I have had to make huge strides in climbing, diving, skiing, swimming, and much more…. It’s not easy to swim underwater for a few minutes while holding a camera, you need preparation. At the same time I don’t want to be a problem for the athletes, I don’t want to slow them down: authenticity comes when they can feel totally in communion with their element, when they can be in their momentum.”

Many outdoor filmmakers or photographers share a specific background, Miko points out, “They are almost all former high-level athletes, perhaps stopped by injury. On the other hand, I come straight out of the art and fashion world. And this background has some downsides, but it also has some benefits, because it is a rare status….” An atypical condition that has forged the equally atypical artistic philosophy of the Seattle native. These characteristics deflagrate in the short films “Ocean Mother” and “KYRA,” which have already won multiple awards and will soon be featured at the ONA Short Film Festival, a Venetian kermis in which Miko himself will attend.

On one side is the oceanic world of Kimi Werner, freediving queen, and her maternal transition; on the other is the vertical world of Kyra Condie, Olympic climber, and her ability to overcome a severe spinal injury. It seems to take only a few moments for Miko’s camera to encapsulate their entire lives. Perspective after perspective, detail after detail, each of his shots becomes a kind of emotional telescope, a sieve capable of collecting emotional nuances and intimate reflections. “I decided to celebrate these women. Kimi is one of the most incredible human beings I have ever met. She can hold her breath, swim and fish for minutes at 200 feet deep. Now she has become a mother and is introducing her son to the ocean, to his home. Kyra is equally incredible: an incident severed a foot of her spine. Everyone thought she would struggle to even walk, but instead, after turning down the Paralympic Games, she was able to participate in the Tokyo Olympics as a Team USA climber.”

Little stories to tell big worlds. Stories that, in order to be shaped, need choices. This is the final, fundamental component of Miko Lim’s creative process. Each choice is decisive, he explains, and is determined by personal curiosity. And curiosity, in turn, is conditioned by evolving taste, changing influences, simple existential maturation. “You never really know what you’re doing. You just have an impression, especially when the sports you investigate are so different from each other and you go from a mountaintop to the sea depths, from an arena to an athletic track. When you portray someone you can focus on so many different things: the face and the emotions, the body and the poetry of movement…. The choice is yours. And that’s when curiosity comes back in. What are you most curious about? That is the essential question.”

Credits: Miko Lim
mikolim.com
Text by Gianmarco Pacione


Paul Guschlbauer, flying to inspire

The Austrian paraglider whose feats are meant to amaze the eyes and celebrate nature

“Once you have known flight, you will walk the earth looking at it, because there you have been and there you will wish to return,” wrote Leonardo Da Vinci, an immortal genius who succeeded in making flight his scientific art. A quote that, centuries later, seems to perfectly inhabit the soul and actions of Austrian paraglider Paul Guschlbauer.

A world-renowned Red Bull star athlete and the next host of the ONA Short Film Festival, thanks to the partnership with Salewa, this Graz native is what can be called a contemporary pioneer, a “normal” superhuman capable of reshaping pre-existing limits, of creating new ones, especially among clouds and currents, with the sole aim of breaking them.

“It’s all about showing and proving something. I’ve never broken records, I’ve never liked the idea of competition. I simply imagine a challenge and, if I like it, I take it on. I always try to do something new. My desire is to motivate people, to make them understand that every dream can be achieved and that the educational relevance of sport is infinite, as is its ability to make us grow as human beings. I believe that sometimes it’s necessary to go beyond the rules and limits imposed by others, to look a little further and discover new ways, new goals. For me it’s especially important to do all of this through connecting with nature. We all come from nature, we all will return to it and continue to belong to it.”

And in nature Paul found the most ideal of partners, first through the hilly undulations of central Austria, then by flying around and across the world’s peaks. An adrenaline-fueled, dizzying journey that began on a mountain bike and continued on the aerial vehicle invented by Dave Barish nearly half a century ago: the paraglider.

“My father introduced me to the beauty of nature. Near Graz there is a rather high hill, and I loved to ride my MTB to the top and look at the view from above. Then I got into climbing and, finally, I approached paragliding. Obviously, there are huge differences between mountain biking and paragliding: in one sport you are in contact with the earth, in the other you are above it. But there are also similarities. It’s all about following the natural element and overcoming obstacles: on the one hand they may be trees or stones, on the other hand they are mostly invisible, like currents.”

In order to understand the magnitude of the exploits of this 39-year-old equilibrist of the skies and poly-athlete, just think about the flight completed between the northernmost and southernmost points of the American continent, or just look at the content shared on his social profiles: videos and images that actually tell only a small part of the whirlwind of emotions and exertions experienced on a daily basis.

“I’m not a cameraman or a photographer, but even when I was young I enjoyed these tools. This artistic passion then matured into something different. At a certain point in my career I was not getting enough budget or funding to take content creators with me, so I decided to go it alone. I have to say, though, that I can’t always think about taking photos or videos, I have to find a proper balance between the performance and its storytelling, I often don’t even have the time to sit down and edit…”

Paul does, however, have time to sit back in other ways, whether at the top of a peak or during a glide through the void, and admire the natural magnificence. It is precisely communion with this external and, at the same time, internal force within the human being that seems to propel and in some way direct his astonishing feats-a primal nexus that the Austrian paraglider celebrates through irrational courage, rational simplification, and a form of inspiration that is meant to be both personal and collective.

“Along my travels and challenges I have learned that, many times, simplification is necessary to be effective. It takes a tremendous amount of experience to do certain things, that’s clear, but overthinking the details or bending to someone else’s thinking does not allow you to achieve what you think is impossible. It all starts with a simple question: can I do it? And this question leads you to unimaginable situations and circumstances. Try, for example, to think about finding yourself at dawn on the top of a mountain, with the clouds parting and the opportunity to fly in the midst of all that wonder…. It’s an incredible feeling.”

Credits: Paul Guschlbauer
IG @paulguschlbauer
Text by Gianmarco Pacione


Between wool, motorcycles and painting, Tommy Lhomme

The French artist and tufting master who unleashes energy and sublimates motorcycles in his rugs

Working with wool is very different than painting. Every time you live a unique tactile experience. Wool gives you unparalleled sensations and tones, and the pieces I create always feel magical to me. I feel more like a craftsman than an artist, I love to explore new techniques and challenge myself. That’s how I became a rug designer, browsing through some YouTube videos and discovering the tufting technique, which has never left me since…”

The first term that can be associated with Tommy Lhomme’s thought and artistic philosophy is energy: an irrepressible, disruptive, vibrant energy. For this artist, or rather, craftsman from France who likes to define himself as a navigator transported by the waves of art, design and objects, there are no ruptures between past and future, but virtuous compromises: meeting points from which an atypical creative experimentation springs, where painting and wool, nostalgia and progress, figures and materials continue to mix and coexist, releasing unusual vibrations.

“I didn’t really receive an art education. I grew up in Marseille, an extremely creative city, doing graffiti and exploring photography. I liked to visit the most marginal areas of the city and portray the places and people that populated them. After leaving an art school in Paris I turned to painting, but that wasn’t enough for me, I wanted to try something new, so I discovered tufting and worked on my first rugs. The process is dual, it is both digital and physical. Initially I work on the computer, using Paint and PhotoShop a lot, letting myself be inspired by everything around me: I’m talking about thousands of personal photo files, as well as Kandinsky paintings, but also street signs and much more… The compositions are potentially endless. Then the object takes shape in front of my eyes, and when the idea becomes reality, I feel an incredible joy.”

The world is my sketchbook, Tommy declares in his bio. And in this sketchbook the sports element also finds a privileged place. Motor imagery is in fact one of the most followed strands of the Marseille native’s artistic vein. Stylized wheelies and dirt bike silhouettes find space on his wool paintings as iconic images, as symbolic elements that transcend the sporting act in order to become metaphorical expressions.

“As a good Marseillean, I am passionate about soccer and OM, but I also got to know the local skate scene closely. The love for motorcycles came when I was 14 years old. On two wheels I enjoyed riding around the city and doing stunts here and there. I think the motorcycle image is very strong: it embodies the idea of freedom, the spirit that is intrinsic to every rider…. From an artistic point of view, it gives me the constant opportunity to find common ground between the abstract and the figurative, it allows me to achieve a perfect balance. I have noticed that this vision of the motorcycle-element is shared by many other people. Almost everyone who has bought my themed works is not a rider or fanatic, some even own a motorcycle: they all simply like what it represents.”

Visual design, technique and aesthetic power. Tommy Lhomme’s artistic research is based on these pillars: an artist-craftsman or craftsman-artist (you decide) who gives free rein to creativity with the sole purpose of transforming his energy into shapes and colors, into concreteness and tangibility, without desiring fame or recognition. “I have long wondered how to do art,” he tells us at the end of our chat, “Then I understood that ‘do’ was the most important thing.”

Credits: Tommy Lhomme
@tommylhomme
Text by Gianmarco Pacione