My Story

From Photo to Painting

Lio Slama is an entrepreneur and artist from France. He grew up in Chalon-sur-Saône, the birthplace of photography, and later moved to Lyon, the city where cinema was invented. Spending several months each year in the south of France, he was exposed to modern and contemporary art from a young age, regularly visiting contemporary art museums across Europe. Artists such as Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Jérôme Basserode, and Pierre Soulages were among his inspirations in France.

At age 15, Lio visited New York and the MoMA for the first time, and became inspired by the works of Elsworth Kelly, Frank Stella, Gerhard Richter, Sol LeWitt, Barnett Newman, and Donald Judd.

From Colorblindness to Volume

Despite being heavily colorblind from birth, Lio started experimenting with paint and colors at age 4. His unique perception of the world led him to develop his own comprehension system, which he uses to create art that goes beyond color. He considers each painting as a volume rather than a flat surface, utilizing techniques like centralized perspective, paint thickness, and marbling to create depth.

Lio’s works are painted on all five visible faces of the canvas, the sides becoming an integral part of the artwork that can be enjoyed from various vantage points. He also uses shadow gaps to create continuity and tension between canvas pieces. There are different ways to perceive reality and this is particularly true in Lio’s paintings.

From Hiroshima to New York

Lio is an avid traveler, having visited over 50 countries and met hundreds of local communities. He practices urbex (urban exploration) everywhere he goes to explore and understand traumatized places. Some of his most notable expeditions uncovered alternative realities in post-industrial societies such as Detroit and Pontiac in Michigan, and Hashima Island in Japan. His travels have also taken him to see how societies cope with apocalyptic events, such as the North Korea DMZ and Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan.

Lio was invited to hold his first solo exhibitions in Geneva, Switzerland by local galleries in 2013 and 2014. Fast forward to 2021, Lio was invited to showcase his work in a solo show at the French Consulate in New York City. The following year, in 2022, he participated in the Art Apple NYC group shows. In 2023, Lio is set to return with his latest solo exhibition titled “Abstract Express” in NoHo, New York.

From Architect to Art & Tech

After attending architecture school in France, Lio became one of the youngest project managers in the world as the new Head Architect for the renovation of the International Labor Organization in Switzerland, a $300M project. He later became a serial entrepreneur in the tech industry, founding SquarePlan in 2017, a proptech startup dedicated to streamlining property management in office space. SquarePlan was part of the Techstars New York City accelerator, class of 2019.

In 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown, SquarePlan transformed into AskNeo, a platform that uses artificial intelligence and texting to help consumer brands personalize customer interactions at scale. The startup quickly rose to the #1 spot on Product Hunt. AskNeo enables sales, marketing, and support teams to collaborate in real time, becoming more efficient and authentic.

In 2022, Lio launched AskNeo Media to help growing startups develop winning branding and content strategies. Lio understands the importance of building a strong voice and creating an organic flywheel from the earliest stages of a startup. AskNeo Media actively fights spam and helps brands find their authentic voice and values.

In 2023, Lio and his friends established the Neo Club, a private club that meets two to three times a month on private rooftops, penthouses, and art galleries. The club’s mission is to bridge the gap between the tech and art worlds, bringing together highly creative entrepreneurs and artists. The Neo Club also connects first-time founders with veteran entrepreneurs so that they can learn from one another.

Lio is based in New York but spends several months each year in Spain, France, and Israel.