Louis Lambert is 3TTMAN, or to aid in its proper pronunciation, Trois Têtes Man, the agitador de
medio ambiente. As a key presence in the contemporary urban art scene in Madrid, he has formed
an aesthetic combining the punk heritage of graffiti, its do-it-yourself, by any means necessary
attitude, with a style showing a strong influence of both vernacular, and popular religious art.
Working on a plethora of surfaces (from billposters to self-laid concrete), and utilising a myriad of
techniques (from ceramics to mosaics), Lambert’s production purposefully blurs the boundary
between art and craft, challenging prevailing conceptions of ‘correct’ practice in both the fine and
public-art worlds.
Born in Lille, France, Louis Lambert painted constantly throughout his early years without ever
feeling the urge to move his work into the streets, feeling that without a truly distinctive approach,
his movement into that arena would be be frivolous. Whist he experimented a little with stickers
and posters alongside his childhood friend Remed by 1999 he found what he considered a more
expansive way of bringing art to the public; co-founding the label 102% – a “pop shop” style brand
focussed on unique, one-off, hand-printed clothing – he directed his artistic skills through textiles,
still tentatively continuing to work in the street. It was Nano4814’s City-Lights project of 2004, that
gave him the inspiration to fully shift his practice into this context however, he encountering a
project which, for the first time, demonstrated the enormous potentiality of the urban environment.
At first working purely on street-furniture – post boxes, lampposts, rubbish containers and the like –
Louis Lambert would détourner these objects, enlivening and animating them with comedic, often
grotesque imagery. Yet whilst these early works gave him a taste for the action, a taste of the
possibilities of the street, he still felt he had yet to find a project which he could wholeheartedly
embrace.
The billposters changed all that however. Whilst unwilling to work directly on the city’s walls, and
equally unhappy with the limited room available to really experiment on street-furniture, 3TTMan
came to realise the huge amount of space taken up by billposters in Madrid, a seemingly semilegal
form of advertising which consumed nearly every single vacant or neglected structure in the
city. Not only did they provide a readymade surface which to work on in the very heart of the capital
however, the billposters also presented him with a readymade response to any encounter with
police: If the billposters themselves were an illegal form of visual culture, how could painting on top
of them be considered illegal in itself? Lambert would thus openly paint on these surfaces in the
middle of the day in some of the most conspicuous sites in the city, happy to argue with the police
when they eventually emerged on the scene (as they invariably would). This approach thus gave
him the time to produce highly complex collages on these sites, never simply painting on top of the
posters but using what was already there, playing with it, challenging it, taking a purely commercial
medium and converting it into a space for interaction, for enjoyment.
Whilst still continuing his work on billposters (as well as the canvas-based work which he has
never ceased producing), Louis Lambert has since found numerous other way of interacting in the
street, producing large-scale murals, mosaics, piñatas, pushing upon the strained boundary
between folk and high-art. His recent focus has been on cement however, probably the most
seemingly un-artistic of tools. Inspired both by the spontaneous writings left upon unset concrete in
the street, as well as the experience of re-building his studio in Madrid, 3TTMan, armed with some
bags of sand, cement, and plenty of water, has begun to reform the city streets, working both on
the potholed pavements (which have been left dangerously unrepaired) and bricked-up shopfronts
(of abandoned or empty buildings) that, like the billposters, seem to proliferate widely in the city.
Laying cement onto these sites then, he incises both texts and illustrations upon them before it has
the chance to set (sometimes also painting on top of these designs), often with paradoxical or
word-playing statements: Esto Es Graffiti (“This is Graffiti”) or No Me Gusta Escribir En Las
Paredes (“I Don’t Like to Write on Walls”) for example. Like his exploration of ceramics in Vietnam,
his Indian ‘wildstyle’ or street-based painting-by-numbers, the concrete projects can thus be
understood to fuse three of the key themes within his work; his obsession with popular aesthetics;
his desire to critique the sanctity of art; and his focus on representing the contradictions, the
multiple points of view that can be taken in any situation. Like his three headed character itself
then, a creature which suggests the multiple possibilities of every situation, Louis Lambert aims to
present us with a method of questioning rather than judging, with works meant to function through
revelation rather than explanation. Expressing the inherent imbalance of the three, he brings a
witty, joyful spirit to the street, a low-brow, popular yet highly refined technique, one refusing to
stand by the demarcations which the art-world sets up.