Game of Simple Shapes | An Interview with Cyril Lancelin

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Lyon based Artist Cyril Lancelin uses seemingly random shapes in exaggerated proportions to create surprising immersive installations. With a background in architecture, he calls himself “An artist working on architectural scale”.

Installation “Cube Sphere” by Cyril Lancelin

In 2016 he started his own creative studio called “Town & Concrete”. One of his notable works “Mix” was an installation developed with melon and other fruit-shaped elements that were scaled up to create a surreal space. Another installation “Pyramid Torus” was created using Tori elements stacked up on top of each other.

Whether it is a maze of golden arches or giant flamingos in New York, Cyril is a visionary who transcends conventional understandings of space and architecture. MiND talked to Cyril about his work, experiences and influences.

Installation “Arches” by Cyril Lancelin. Photo by Adrian Robinson

Tell us a little about your journey and how your appreciation of experiential art grew as you got older?

As a part of my architectural studies, I took a lot of time to visit art exhibitions. I was particularly interested in immersive works and liked minimalist artists such as Donald Judd, Carl Andre and Sol Lewitt. I spent a lot of time reading Art Books, which inspired me to design some immersive installations. When I started posting some images on Instagram of my work like the “Pink Pyramid” or “Chain”, people noticed it and contacted me to get some.

Does your French upbringing play any role in your creative output?

I think I’m more influenced by having lived in different cities with a different local culture. For example, Los Angeles and its commercials highways compared with the Paris metro that has its own advertising language. They are two different cultures with different artistic expressions.

Installation “Chain” by Cyril Lancelin.

You worked with some influential artists and architects for 15 years before starting your studio “Town and concrete”. What was your major take away? ­­­­

I always learnt new things when I collaborated with artists or architects. My major takeaway is the large network of creative people that I built, which I will use in the future.

Any architects who have inspired you?

I was often impressed by the works of Japanese architects on the habitat. They free themselves from rules of the game, and return to the primary question of the living cell. They reinvent everything- the staircase, the window, the passage, the intimacy…

Installation “Sphere Cube” unit by Cyril Lancelin

How does your style fit with the current trends whilst standing out?

I use primitive forms such as spheres, cylinders, torus etc and I multiply them with parametric computer tools that allow me to test various solutions for assembling shapes while altering their scale. Multiplication makes it easier to reach the immersive.

“I use primitive forms such as spheres, cylinders, torus. They are classic forms of language.”

Installation “Pyramid Torus”

Could you briefly describe your design process for the latest installation “Pyramid Torus”?

I set two goals for myself: the first to make a new pyramid using Tori elements only. The Torus allows a good assemblage between the elements, I have previously used it in the installation “Flamingo Torus” for the Pinknic festival on Governor’s Island in New York. I decided to stack these Tori in two different directions to have more light effects and better stability. The second goal was to find the same atmosphere of the “Chain” installation and it’s labyrinth side, while maintaining the shape of a pyramid.

Installation “Knot” in Hangzhou

What is your opinion on art?

Art always develops in all forms. New media such as augmented reality, virtual reality interests … Specifically the kind of art that enters more and more into the public space. We need new “moments” in the city.

You’ve mentioned that as an artist you have more freedom than architectural construction. And yet are there any constraints or rules you conform to?

I like designing projects without having a client, a budget, a place etc, so that I can define my axes of research, and I am free. However since I always work with the concept of scale, I can then adapt the scale of my work to adapt to the site, the customer…etc.

"I like doing something simple with something complicated."

Flamingo Torus at Pinknic Festival 2018, New York City.

Which materials do you prefer to use for your creations?

I use a lot of PVC fabrics for Inflatable large scale installation. I like the translucence of this material. I am currently working on perennial public art sculptures with assemblies of stainless steel spheres. It gives transparency with the void spaces created by a juxtaposition of sphere.

Green Chapel in Normandy, France.

What does the future behold for “Town and Concrete”?

I am working on an exhibition “Flutter” in Los Angeles, two other temporary Installations in Pittsburgh and Cleveland. Besides that I’m working on sculptures for public space one in Dubai and one in Krakow.  I cannot wait to unveil these new projects!

By Akanksha Salunke