11 July 2024

Born in Paris, Arnaud Nazare-Aga, a French sculptor sees himself as a “creative” rather than an artist. Nevertheless, because people from all over the world purchase his art and consider him an artist, he has become one.

 

Buddhist philosophy

When he was young, Arnaud did not follow to the typical paths of most teenagers, such as attending school. Instead, at the age of 14, he went to the Tibetan Buddhist temple in Burgundy, located in east-central France, and stayed there until he was 28. During that time, he received training from Bhutanese and Tibetan artists and delved into the study of the Buddha’s teachings, as well as the law of karma.

“When you’re young, you often perceive injustice in the world, everything seems so unfair. Some people are born into privilege, while others face extreme poverty and immense challenges. If you have a deep understanding of karma, however, you come to realise that events occur as a consequence of one’s actions,” Arnaud said in an interview with Thai PBS World.

He views karma as a cause-and-effect rule, believing that life cannot be seen as a singular beginning and end. He has come to believe that what people do today will have consequences, perhaps not in this life, but in future lives. Every action one takes in this life carries consequences, and one is living with the results of actions one took in the past.

Moreover, in certain situations, an understanding of karma can provide peace of mind.

“Even if you go to jail for something you haven’t done, if you don’t believe in karma, it’s a great source of suffering. If, however, you believe in karma, you may feel like you’re paying a debt for something you did in the past, even if you don’t know what it was. So, you accept it and the suffering cools down”, he said, believing that this acceptance marks the beginning of finding peace in an unjust situation.

 

The masterpiece

Little did he know that the arts, crafts and training in the monastery, along with his experience in designing and decorating a temple in Burgundy when he was young, would become his profession many years later.

Twelve years ago, he decided to quit various other activities and venture into the world of art, despite not initially believing in his potential. He faced struggles along the way. Nonetheless, he took a piece to a gallery in Singapore, hoping to see some interest, and received an immediate ‘yes.’ Since then, he has consistently collaborated with the same gallery and has now exhibited in approximately 20 galleries worldwide.

His sculptures feature a unique style, characterised by bright, vivid and playful colours, as he aims to spread positive vibes through his art. Notably, he holds the distinction of being the first artist to create a collection based on ‘The Little Prince’ book by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, and his masterpiece is inspired by this beloved work. It is called ‘The Little Prince in the Dark’.

He created a kind of magical vision and what he likes about this work of art is that he modelled the room at the same time, painting it all in black with fluorescent stars scattered throughout, immersing the viewers in the universe of ‘The Little Prince’ with floating planets all around.

“People can touch the sculptures and even blind individuals can experience them through touch. That’s definitely my masterpiece.”

 

The Little Prince

The magical thing about “The Little Prince” book is that readers interpret its meaning differently each time they read it. Arnaud mentioned that he particularly enjoys the beginning, where the Little Prince suddenly appears in the middle of nowhere and asks the pilot, who had been trying to fix the plane, to draw him a picture of a sheep. This moment shifts the pilot’s focus, from the task of fixing the plane, to a more artistic and spiritual endeavor. However, the little prince is dissatisfied with everything the pilot draws, as the sheep is never quite right.

So, he makes three drawings of sheep, and finally, he said, “I make the box, the sheep you want is inside” and the little prince joyfully replied, “Wow! That’s exactly the sheep I want to have”.

For Arnaud, this part of the book aligns with a Buddhist teaching that emphasises how everything outside will never truly satisfy us; it will only lead to frustration, “and happiness is an inner experience. There is nothing from outside that will give you real happiness. Happiness must be experimented by yourself, that’s the point,” he said.

 

Online life experience

He is worried about the proliferation of social media platforms and how the younger generations spend increasing amounts of their time on these apps. Arnaud gave one example about his “The Little Prince Café”, where celebrities come to make content and post them online.

The place received more than one million views of various videos, but there were not many people coming to visit. He believes that it was because people like things on the phone. They don’t come to seek real life experiences. They don’t come to touch, to smell, to feel, to taste, nor experiment by themselves. They just stay home, it’s a cheap way to have life. It’s just to scroll and they don’t even meet, don’t have new friends. “All their friends are followers, they are not friends. They believe that the experience of life goes through the phone,” he said.

When it comes to the younger generation’s obsession with their image on social media, he believes that AI will exacerbate this issue. AI’s ability to generate various types of images and even produce speech will lead to increased skepticism regarding the authenticity of the images we see. In the future, it may blur the lines between the online and offline worlds, making it difficult for younger generations to distinguish between these two contrasting realms.

Arnaud Nazare-Aga has embraced Buddhist principles as his life’s guiding philosophy and, as a devoted Buddhist, he has faith and belief in the fact that, if one acts properly, then they will have a good life and find happiness.

Video version: ‘The Little Prince’ and Arnaud NAZARE-AGA