Rue Denoyey, Belleville, in the 20th arrondissement.
The Belleville neighbourhood is our favourite street art and graffiti destination in Paris and Rue Denoyez is the main attraction. Since the 1980’s musicians and artists have cohabited with the working class and immigrant communities, Rue Denoyey’s walls have been coated with art, some great, some not so great. The neighbours may have a thing or two to say about this, but their voices are mainly drowned out by the music. One of the best bands to have started out in Belleville is Les Rita Mitsouko.
Diamant, above, makes diamonds by painting onto glass, explaining that he also creates poster and collage work on the streets: “I do not want to be imprisoned by my diamonds. I want to be free to do what I want. I keep the diamond as a signature”. His work is featured on Rue Denoyez, which is a ‘free zone’ and as such, the spiritual centre of Paris’ street art and graffiti scene. The Frichez-Nous La Paix gallery – a project space for displaying work by graffiti and street artists from France and abroad – opened in 2002 to accommodate artists from squats in the area. The gallery is available to the community for free, and exhibition artists must pay a small stipend to cover the charges. Opposite the space is a large wall for anyone to use express themselves through art, without prior consent.
The blue painted woman in the bottom-left hand corner is by Alice Pasquini, a.k.a. AliCè. Born in Rome, Pasquini is a professional illustrator. Annoyed by female stereotypes proposed by artists who represent women as sexual objects or cartoon heroines, AliCè is interested in true depictions of femininity. She has painted lots with French street artist, C215, and is prolific in the streets of the Paris suburb, Vitry-sur-Seine.
The Sheepest spreads its anti-consumerist message from up high. The artist, comes from outside Grenoble, where once upon a time the authorities ordered all graffiti be removed except sheep. Left alone, they generally last on the wall for around a year before being sheared off by the elements.
These water-drop shaped portraits nicknamed Dropman (sic [surely Dropmen?!]) are by Ema aka Florence Blanchard. Painter Ema was raised in Montpelier and spent ten years living in Brooklyn. She now lives and works in Paris. You may like to check out her show, Ephemera, on at the moment at Galerie Rue de Beauce.
The building block is by Teurk (Valentin Bechade), a painter, sculptor, designer and performer, from the second generation of graffiti artists in Paris, which became active through the 90s. In 1995, he travelled to Beirut where he made a series of photos showing the scars of the city archived in its architecture. Concrete is of special interest to Teurk, hence his crude trademark.
1984 is one of Paris’ most famous graffiti crews. This piece of work has actually been created onto hardboard and stuck to the wall, rather than painted on. The roller is a much-used tool among graffiti and street artists, as well as the more commonly known spray can.
Portrait of a child with Tin Tin’s dog, Snowy by Swiss artist Bustart
Peek at the top-left hand corner, where there is one of Space Invader’s prolific mosaics. Known as “Invader” to his friends and work colleagues, he was born in 1969, and started out in his ‘career’ in 1998. His works can be seen in cities across the world, an “Invasion” which he documents, with books and maps of where to find each invader. The locations for the mosaics are chosen according to criteria including aesthetic, strategic or conceptual advantage. An Invader campaign in Montpelier was orchestrated so that, when placed on a map, the locations of all the mosaics formed an image of a giant space invader character. The mosaics are half built in advance and when Invader arrives in a city he obtains a map and spends at least a week to install them, before cataloguing, photographing and mapping the locations of each piece. Invader is one of the artists that features in Bansky-directed 2010 film, “Exit Through the Gift Shop.” He is the cousin of the main character, Thierry Guetta, aka Mr. Brainwash.
The work on the left is by French artist L’Atlas, who is interested in the subject “displacement.” He is a distinguished calligrapher and practices calligraphic abstraction, whereby every letter is considered as a shape and every shape as a letter. The piece on the right is by an Italian woman street artist, Nemo.