A social artist serving communities in need
Tim Zdey is a French artist born in Hong Kong in 1989. Based in Paris, he devotes his creativity to institutional projects and humanitarian initiatives around the world, regularly engaging with vulnerable communities. He has painted a nursery school in Paris with young people from the child protection agency, coloured the walls of schools in Colombia and Mexico with the help of local indigenous minorities, and financed and accompanied the renovation of a school in the Himalayan mountains in Nepal.
His latest projects include collaborations with major companies and institutions such as Hermès, Christie’s, the Pasteur Institute, the City of Paris, the Louis Vuitton Foundation…
Active in the world, several solo exhibitions have showcased the artist’s work in Paris, Bogota, Mexico and Brussels.
As a sponsor of Artivista (an association using urban art as a cultural and social gateway around the world), Tim ZDEY has, among other things, participated in an exchange organized in Brazil, painted a 200 m2 fresco in the heart of the University of Mosul in Iraq and recently colored the Delauney-Belleville district in Saint-Denis in the company of Colombian artists.
Although the practice of graffiti is at the origin of his painting, Tim ZDEY concentrates on the development of a more personal universe. The influences of pop, architects, and painters of modern art, as well as the Memphis and Opart movements, intersect in his works and invite his spectators to dive into a luminous and positive universe enriched with organic and architectural elements. throughout his travels, to give life to a unique urban-artistic ideal. Filled with dreams, his compositions are considered as an original whole, alive and animated.
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Tim Zdey’s interview
How did your vocation as an artist come about?
My background is not very classical. I went to business school and moved to Bombay at the end of my studies. There, I had a job in a big company, wearing a suit and tie all day, and I painted in the evening and at weekends.
I discovered painting through graffiti, through lettering, which I did for 10 years, then I created my character Zdey during my stay in India. I started to develop other universes, notably around lines and optical bands. As time went by, my universes were nourished with new forms and new colours.
It’s true that at the beginning, I was much more in the street art universe, which is not necessarily the case today. I spend much more time painting canvases, doing commissioned projects, or doing projects in schools. Today, I would describe myself more as a painter, working in many different media.
What are your inspirations?
My optical universe is a game that I have created for myself. There are always the three white stripes and other colours, as a unit that I try never to change. Then there are angles that I replicate, there is always an axial, horizontal or vertical symmetry. So I have a sort of rule for my game, and when I arrive in a place, I make the strips evolve by respecting both these rules and the constraints of the space. When I arrive in the morning I don’t know what I’m going to do, I don’t know what it’s going to be like. I compose with what’s around me.
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Colour came a little later in my work, I did a lot of black and white for a while. More and more my worlds are opening up and colour is coming in. For me, colour is an infinite number of possibilities for exploring, developing and nourishing my worlds. It is something universal. In all the trips I make, where I paint walls, it’s a way of talking with people from different cultures, without sharing the same language. But with colours and smiles, we manage to understand each other and paint a wall together. It’s this universal aspect that is magical.
What are your projects at the moment?
At the moment, I’m concentrating on my studio painting, so on works that are exhibited in galleries. I’m also preparing a video game in collaboration with Art’Cade, which takes up a lot of my time. The game is already created, and we are carrying out a crowdfunding campaign to develop it, go further, create other levels.
And then there are always trips, which I am planning with the Artivista association, with which I am the sponsor, and with which we organise artistic cultural exchanges between two countries. The next one will be with Colombia: 3 Colombian artists will come next September to paint walls in Saint-Denis, then in February 2022, 3 French artists will go to Colombia to paint.
Usually, painting allows you to travel a lot. How are you living this health crisis since March 2020?
To be very honest, I used to travel a lot, until I got a bit lost in my travels. I took so many planes that at one point I was wondering where I was. I had trouble finding myself, and I felt the need to spend time in the studio to develop my worlds, to do more research. I needed a break, I had been saying that for a while. In the end, the break was a bit forced! But I’m lucky enough to have a job, which means that when I’m at home and creating, I’m in my normal state. I don’t see time passing, I’m in my paintings, and that’s a chance. So I live it rather well, the timing is what it is, and I try to make the most of it.
Interview published in Monumentart – Credit Marion Quesne