The Man and Woman Behind Taverne Gutenberg

Arts & Culture

November 7, 2017 | BY Isabel Martel Francisco

Get to know Maïa d'Aboville and Henri Lamy

Husband and wife team, artists, Maïa d’Aboville and Henri Lamy are the power couple behind Taverne Gutenbuerg in Lyon, France.

maia-1.jpgThey have organised an 8 week artist residency in the Philippines for 4 international artists from Taverne Gutenberg. While in town from October – November, these artists will collaborate with local artists in their studios and also teach free workshops for their NGO partners, namely: Project Pearls, Virlanie, Stairway Foundation and ACAY.

Furthermore, this international project aims to reinforce ties between France and Philippines and marks the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations!

To learn more about the project as a whole click here

We got to chat with Maïa and Henri to pick their brains about the Taverne Gutenberg project, this international artist residency and simply to learn more about the man and woman behind these excellent projects.

"I don’t always love art. Sometimes I hate it. I consider art as an extension of me, unable to really separate it from my own soul and body. Both parts have to nourish each other in order to live in peace. I think it’s the same for every human being even though not all of us are conscious of it." - Henri Lamy

Take a read:

What is Taverne Gutenberg? What do you mean by creative exchanges and encounters? Do artists rent out the space to use it as a gallery or art studio?

Maïa d’Aboville: Taverne Gutenberg is an art centre in Lyon, that Henri and I created in 2015. It has grown considerably in two years and now counts over 400 artists that we have exhibited from over 12 different countries, 20 art residents, and 17,000 members. We started off just the two of us and our team has now grown to 6 people working full-time. We wanted to create an open and warm place where people could gather, experiment, create together and exchange around art. Since this is a private initiative, our studios are for rent. However, we have invited a few artists to come free of charge, and we never make any artists pay when they exhibit their works.  


Why did you establish Taverne Gutenberg?

Henri actually started his career in a famous Parisian art squad called 59 Rivoli. It had always been a dream of his to open his own art residency where the public could simply walk in, meet artists and see how they work and create. At first, our project was only supposed to last 3 months, but we had such a huge positive feedback from the City of Lyon and from the public, with huge crowds flowing in for our closing show (about 800 people in an evening) we felt that we couldn't stop there. Henri's father, an artist-turned-business-owner really enjoyed our project and decided he would help us by buying the rest of the building with us.

Why did you guys want to do an international residency? What is your goal?

"Ugnayan sa Poblacion" is our first official international art residency program.

Actually it all happened quite organically (as do most of our projects, Taverne included): Henri had a solo show planned at Qube Gallery in Cebu on November 16. During our last trip in Manila 6 months ago, we met with Rommel Marasigan and Cao Ocampo, founders of Z Hostel who where really excited about our project in Lyon and wanted to do something similar in Poblacion. They offered to sponsor food and accommodation if we managed to bring in artists from Lyon. That's when the whole project started. The project was created in only 4 months and now counts dozens of partners. 

I was born in the Philippines and left to study in Paris when I was 16. We always managed to go back to live a few months during winter in France every year, we even got married there last year (in Puerto Galera, where my parents built a house 20 years ago). Henri has had several exhibitions in Manila for the past 5 years, and we have built a nice network of artist friends and partners. He loves the Philippines, his second country, and even speaks Tagalog now! It was very natural for us to want to do a big project there, it is also a way for me to finally give back to my country, with a social and cultural project. 


Maia d'Aboville and Henri Lamy by Lionel Rault

Will you go to other countries in the future for new residency programs?

We hope that this is the beginning of a long series of residencies abroad or maybe even a Taverne based in the Philippines! That would be a dream of ours, to spend winter in the Philippines and summer in France! We have actually managed to do that for the past 3 years. 

Our next project abroad is to join the Dakar Biennale next April 2018, in collaboration with Cargo 209, another French initiative (Bordeaux).

Does Tavern Gutenberg manage artists?

Yes, Taverne Gutenberg is also a sort of gallery without really being one (it's really a hybrid space). These 3 artists that we have brought with us here (+ Henri) are emerging artists that we support and have already exhibited. Abdoul K. Seck has actually been a resident at the Taverne Gutenberg for the past 9 months. 


Photo by Lionel Rault

Have you both always been involved or interested with the arts?

Since we were kids, we both loved to draw. Henri studied Product Design but soon realized that he wanted to be an artist instead. And I always wanted to study applied arts. I did a graphic design masters EnsAD, followed by a specialized masters in Interactive experiences in Gobelins. 

If you were not an artist what would you be doing?

Henri Lamy: Musician. I love music and dance, and capoeira which I combine with art. I've been walking on my hands since I can remember. 

Maïa: If I were not a designer, I would have been a veterinarian, I really love animals. 

Who created and planned the line up of events during the 8 week residency here in the Philippines?

This project is the replica of a former one that Henri had with Museo Pambata and Stairway Foundation two years ago. I was the project director and created the partnerships which led to the events. Henri brought in a lot of personal contacts too from all of his experience exhibiting his works in Manila. 

Portrait_Lamy.jpgWhat do you think that art can do for the less fortunate communities here in Makati? How do you think or hope that art can affect their lives? 

We strongly believe that art can bring people together. Even if our workshops only lasts a few hours, the time we share together sharing our passion of art to the children is precious. We hope it can even ignite a passion in a few of them. Art is a means of expression, through it you can increase social consciousness, and express ideas and emotions that are deep inside of each one of us. Art here be perceived as a means or a tool and not as an end itself. 

Why do you love art?

Henri: I don’t always love art. Sometimes I hate it. I consider art as an extension of me, unable to really separate it from my own soul and body. Both parts have to nourish each other in order to live in peace. I think it’s the same for every human being even though not all of us are conscious of it. 

Maïa: Art is everywhere. It is natural and everyone one of us can feel so many different things.

maia-2.jpgHow would you each describe your personal aesthetic with regards to your work?

Henri: I’m inspired with the human being. As a kid I was drawing lots of portraits. And then I came to painting. It’s been about 15 years now. I’m still new. But maybe because of my on the go lifestyle, I’ve got this fragmented style of putting together different realities or techniques. I think showing contrasts is really something I enjoy.  

Maïa: I love minimalism... less is more. As a graphic designer and art director, I tend to make simple and clear designs, always going to back to what is essential. I think we really complement each other aesthetically because Henri is the opposite! It creates a good balance.