JonOne, the New York train graffiti artist who, many, many moons ago, settled in Paris, has painted a Roll’s Royce donated by Eric Cantona as a publicity stunt for the ArtCurial urban art auction taking place this afternoon. A little bit of vomit appears in this writers mouth, too, but before swallowing, make note that the money raised from this graffitied Rolls-Royce will all go to the Abbé Pierre Foundation, which is a charity helping the utterly impoverished. Exorbitant prices are staple at Artcurial, a private company with an annual turnover of €127 million in 2011, but Eric Cantona’s second-hand Rolls-Royce Corniche II covered with tags by JonOne is being flogged quite cheaply – bidding starts at just €20,000.
Art student, Keith Haring arrives in the cradle of the now ten-year-old graffiti movement, New York in 1978, and becomes accustomed to a new and frenetic energy: the graffiti art scene. Influenced by this ‘subway art’, Haring cuts his own way in the scene, and begins drawing illegally in white chalk on empty black advertising poster panels in subway stations. Paris has a new show of indoors works by the artist, “The Political Line”, which is split between two venues: the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris and Centquatre.
In the same week Google announces the French launch of its virtual street art documentary project at the Palais de Tokyo, a similarly impressive and graffiti-related event takes place within the same venue – a body of work presented on walls in the museum’s basement, which unlike the former, can be viewed in reality, and as far as we know, free of any rights infringement issues. The exhibition is set in the underground and forgotten entrails of the building and is a continuation of the project instigated by French graffiti artists, Lek & Sowat.
Hybridisation is probably the most and least suitable noun to describe Michael Kershnar’s work : a mixture of graffiti and skate cultures, indigenous American iconography, Old Testament stories. We met him at an apartment he’d been keeping for a few months, close to the Grands Boulevards, where he took time to graciously share his story with us, along with some cheese and avocado.
The State of Israel utterly dominates the Palestinian territories and its people, life is made harder than we can ever imagine from simply watching the reports on the BBC, collective punishment is committed by the Israelis - that is punishment on a mass of people for the misdeeds of one or a few of the group - land is continually being seized from the Palestinians. But let's not judge the situation as it stands without assessing what has happened in the past. The wall is a stain on global humanity, but imagine what ends you'd go to if you were repeatedly kicked in the face by your neighbours. This is a two way assault and when a Palestinian kid pulls out his silver penknife, asks you if you love Israel, to which you mumble something inaudible hoping that he changes the subject back to the Barcelona vs Real Madrid dichotomy, and then makes a sideways stabbing motion in the air, while uttering the word "Israel", you can bet that wall or no wall, both sides are guilty.
With a professional background as a graphic designer and illustrator, having for years been the comic strip illustrator for a popular kids magazine, Dityvon explains: "In France, the supermarket industry, this kind of culture, it's very dangerous for our minds... This is why my characters are always wearing hats, because the hat or the tie, for me, it represents the politics, or big industrials - big bosses".
Originally from Le Mans, Mathieu Tremblin works in Strasbourg on multi-dimensional pieces that are sometimes subtly satirical and other times blatantly candid. With an approach to the city linked to sixties libertarian texts, Visual Studies, and French Theory, Mathieu Tremblin develops humorous and subtle artistic gestures, actions and interventions for an audience of passersby. In this interview Mathieu discusses the relationship between public ownership, the power of art and the urban context.
French street artist Intra Larue started casting plaster sculptures from her breasts as a joke. She works a day-job and hasn’t told her father about the endeavour yet, which is surprising because with 450 painted breasts and counting, her sculptures are slowly giving flecks of colour to a grey Paris.
Brazilian artist Leiga has been in Paris after attending the Stroke Art Fair in Munich. He took a few days to visit Paris and we met and painted a couple of walls in the 20th and 13th arrondissements. Leiga's work is centred around his 'bubbles', what he describes as a "mixture of cells... both concrete and abstract" and for the witness, an experience people have told him is like taking a special magic pill and entering, like Alice, into a wonderland.
When blank concrete walls are constructed in socioeconomically deprived areas, graffiti is sure to be painted. Not long after the Israeli-controlled, Palestinian territory, the West Bank, was imprisoned inside an eight-metre high wall, street art began to appear, most notably made by British-artist, Banksy. This Bristolian has painted in the occupied Palestinian territories more than once, recently even going so far as to sneak into Gaza to paint a kitten playing with a ball, among other works, all aimed at shedding light on the area and the plight of the Palestinian people The alternative being to succumb to a feeling of helplessness, similar to the woe being experienced by people in Paris, Beirut, Iraq, and Weston-super-Mare, at this moment, too. His Gaza interventions included an unusually earnest quote: “If we wash our hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless we side with the powerful – we don’t remain neutral”.
Jerry Batista comes from Grajaú in São Paulo's Zona Sul district and co-runs the A7MA gallery in the city's Vila Madalena neighbourhood with a group of artists and screenprinters whom he has grown up alongside in the city's graffiti-street art and music scenes. Here's an interview with Jerry made in Grajaú, accompanied by images of a mural he's painted here in Paris' main mural district, the 13th arrondissement.
Vitor Zanini’s work whether made in his home city of São Paulo or in Ménilmontant-Belleville relates to his relationship to material space from a cosmological point of view and relies upon intuition as its most important tool when in production. His work might be said to be truly site specific in that regard. The paintings we have chosen to show bring into motion forms and colours that reference situations he has experienced both since arriving in Paris, before and studio work made at the time of publication. The pieces come from a desire to mould the thoughts that he channels: the idea is to use what has been learned, to take the information and break into action with paint and brush.
Happy birthday Franprix! Working in association with the supermarket, veteran first-generation street artist, Jérôme Mesnager, plants his latest painting outside one of its shops. Mesnager’s mural celebrates the 60-years since its founding, depicting two of Mesnager’s 'hommes en blancs', who hold hands and seem to frolic into the distance, surrounded by birds. Part of the Casino group which holds an 11.6% share of the French market, and owns chains across the world, from Brazil to the Indian Ocean, Franprix is far from a small community institution to be cherished and celebrated.
Throughout Paris’ 5th arrondissement, faces big and small dot the streets and look over the passersby as they wander the area surrounding the pantheon. It is here that graffiti-street artist, C215, displays his series of 28 portraits of great French figures, choosing walls, doors, post-boxes and feeder pillars as his canvas. Each of the figures displayed has been honoured in the Pantheon, an impressive looking church that was repurposed during the Revolution as a mausoleum to house France’s most celebrated citizens, which it continues to do today.
The sudden emergence of a long, straight wall fizzing with colour and warping dimensional planes is all the more akin to an explosion of sherbet on the visual taste buds. This is a new 100m wall-painting that borders a building materials depot, and which is itself dwarfed by the gargantuan over-pass of the périphérique, marching overhead like a set from War of the Worlds. It is in these impossible surroundings that three of the most accomplished graffiti veterans recently collaborated on a new commission from the local Mairie and the building materials firm, SPL.
Nelio comes from a graphic design and classic graffiti background, producing a geomteric style similar to the Constructivist and Suprematist aesthetic. He favours street painting to producing in a workshop, especially abandoned spaces, in which he creates site-specific work that draws out the architectural shapes, textures and ambiances to form the narrative, transforming these spaces into places. Here, he explains to Streetartparis.fr his artistic development and different techniques for developing new work.
While the United Nations climate conference, COP21, has been going on here in Paris, London-based artist and muralist, Louis Masai, has been here painting coral hearts inside Montparnasse station and on walls in the 11th and 10th arrondissements. We've been out in the streets with Louis finding out about his artistic intention.
If you’ve already ventured into Belleville, in the 20th arrondissement of Paris, you can be sure you’ve walked past one of Philippe Hérard’s “gugusses”. The French artist has been based in this French quartier – home to Edith Piaf and Maurice Chevalier – for the past 25 years, and has kindly received us into his atelier, for an interview and coffee.
Spanish mural artist David de la Mano’s newest commission finds itself in the heart of Paris 13th arrondissement. This building-sized work on rue Jenner near Nationale portrays dancing half-humans that create a massive human profile. Known for his figurative monochromatic silhouettes, the street artist often explores themes of nature and humanity. In our interview with David de la Mano he explains his poetic imagery and his mentality of staying present.
The Pont des Arts, connecting the Louvre to Rive Gauche of Paris, once carried the weight of hundreds of thousands of lovers. Once upon a time couples would latch a lock manifesting their love, engraved with their initials to the bridge and throw away the key, immortalizing their relationship by the Seine in Paris, the city of Love. Controversially Paris and the mayor were moved to dismantle some 45 tons of iron from the bridge’s railings for fear of its collapse, but with many couples infuriated, Paris needed to find some solution to their burdensome problem. Once the romantic padlocked bridge today has been transformed into a public gallery for street art.
Documentary of a three-metre high hoarding at Place de la République, painted by Parisian graffiti artists, juxtaposed with images of the politicised messages graffitied onto the Statue de la République, itself, accompanied by an interview with one of the invited artists - and veteran graffiti journalist - Nicolas Gzeley.
Since 2006, sheeps heads have been appearing on walls in the French city of Grenoble (and Las Vegas). Even though unsanctioned, strangely, the townhall doesn't want them removed. The artist explains here how his nom de plume is a pun on the superlative of "cheap", but also a play on the verb, être (to be), and a reference to the vulgar cheap products that we buy, which shape our lives.
Hazul Luzah is an artist whose work predominates on the streets of Porto, Portugal’s second city after Lisbon. He’s a self-taught graffiti writer, who has developed a style blending classic lettering, transformed into undecipherable, decorative calligraphic forms – which this interviewer mistook for Arabic calligraphy! – often mixed with imagery from nature. He describes his work as a “step-by-step” process, always building on his last work.
Born in the Lorraine region of East France, 27-year-old Levalet takes advantage of Paris' architecture, combining his knowledge of theatre and painting especially, with a keen eye for topography, to produce site-specific scenes painted with Indian ink. Here, he talks about what makes his work possible, his artistic background, the legality of making street art in Paris, and places he likes putting up work.
Christian Guémy voyage pour apporter son travail dans des environnements vierges et immaculés, c'est-à-dire dans des endroits non connus de la culture street art. Nous avons découvert qu’il était le premier à critiquer certains lieux comme New York ou Londres, mais c’est sa critique de sa propre ville, Paris, qui résonne vraiment. Appelé au Sri Lanka, nous savons maintenant ce qui guide cet artiste hors des sentiers battus.