Roman street artists, Sten & Lex, were in Paris this weekend accepting the invitation offered to them to create a mural for Le M.U.R., the project which revolves around a three-by-eight metre billboard set aside by the city council for the purposes of promoting street art.
Among the first artists to produce stencil graffiti in Italy, they created the wall, at the weekend at the wall on the corner of rue Oberkampf and rue Saint-Maur in the 11th Arrondissement, using their experimental ‘stencil poster’ technique, which involves gluing a printed image onto a surface and then cutting away the black parts. After this, the remaining matrix is painted and destroyed. The technique creates a unique artwork, with the cut away scraps left dangling from the image and forming part of the work itself.
Sten & Lex point out that pieces created using this technique are ‘artwork in progress’ and that the matrix could fall completely apart in the future. The ‘progress’ of the work produced for Le M.U.R. (Association Le Modulable Urbain Reactif) has been changed by the weekend’s rainfall, with many of the dangling scraps already having been turned to a sad-looking pulp.
The technique is an evolution of the pair’s “Hole School” a name taken because of its assonance with the “old school”, and started life in 2003, originally borrowing the half shades from the field of graphic design to create the impression of there being a gradient. The artwork you see here is an evolution of this technique and creates the illusion of it being produced in a grey scale, but if you look at the image from at close proximity, you will see only black and white lines but will not process the whole image. Their main inferests from a stylistic perspective are silk-screen printing and pixel-based printing. However, they are also curious about engraving techniques.
Sten & Lex find their images on the internet, in street markets and in newspapers, following purely aesthetic criteria, and using only subjects who are not looking into the camera. Interestingly, they have discovered that from the 1960s people have been looking more and more into the camera and smiling.
The couple was invited by Banksy to the Cans Festival in 2008, for which they created an ecclesiastic image: the “Saint”, but have since moved away from religious imagery in their murals. Since then, they have experimented with a variety of imagery; they are on a quest to bring back to life forgotten representations, such as old postage stamps and banknotes. Today, Sten & Lex are interested in creating original portraiture, which they have been unable to work with due to time constraints as of late.