Enjoy the ride, while you can!
- Street Art Paris’ tours and workshops fund its underground street art photojournalism;
- the first ever article published covered a wave of stencil artworks by Bristol native, Nick Walker, in which the artist talks about an at-the-time famous feud he had had with another well-known Bristolian stenciller;
- almost all of the works photographed since that first outing, above, have been destroyed.
Bilal Bereni (Zoo Project)
Blvd de la Villette, Paris 10.
The artist visited Tunis in March and April 2011 and created images of political struggle. As well as a series of murals, Zoo Project created 40 life-sized figures representing some of the 236 people who were killed in the uprising in Tunisia.
Many moons ago, Street Art Paris interviewed Philippe Hérard, which you can read over at our blog. If you’ve already ventured into the Belleville area, in Paris 20, be sure you’ve encountered at least one of Philippe Hérard’s great many gugusses [twits]. All his paintings are titled Cent Titres [one hundred titles]. Phonetically cent titres can also sans titres [without a title], so leaving the interpretation free to all. The work is derivative of French painter, Jean Rustin, but with an authentic twist and not just that the work is placed outdoors.
Space Invaders aka Invader
Place Georges Pompidou, Paris 4.
Amongst Paris’ most celebrated artistic exports: Space Invaders, or just Invader, has been active in gluing pixelations from said video game designed by Tomohiro Nishikado, released in 1978, since 1998. The artist – or was that artisan? – is a total f***ing maestro at unsanctioned urban interventions. But not only does the artist grace the rotten apple, Paris; the artist has also travelled to all four corners of the Earth and rocketed a mosaic into veritable space. Space Invaders is considered one of the most influential video games of all time, which is curious as Invader is considered one of the most influential street artists of all time.
Alexandrine Gautier née Deshayes
Rue du Faubourg du Temple, Paris 10.
Alexandrine Deshayes is using news media imagery as the subject of this painting. In her own words: “These are like pauses on the media and globalised flow which offer to see these fragments of images, of yesterday or today, carrying these same signs that are violence, suffering, despair, revolt or indifference.”
‘Art Rock’ auto-portrait, Rue de la Butte aux Cailles, Paris 13.
Artist and poet of street art, Miss.Tic has added her work onto walls in Paris since 1985.
“My family’s been doing a haunted house since before I was born. Every halloween we’ve been doing a haunted house. We all dress up, we set the whole house up, never charging anything, we just did it because we loved it. And then I started to have larger and larger shows. I asked myself how am I going to make this my own, how am I going to make this art show different to other people’s. What am I going to do, have a bunch of rich people coming around, sipping wine and looking at my artwork? WTF, nah – I’m going scare the sh*t out of these people first. Put them in the right mindset, and then by the time they get in the gallery, they be like, this all makes sense. It’s a family thing, scare the sh*t out of people, then you look at my artwork.”
The Sheepest is social criticism, an allegory for consumerism. The simplicity of the sheep’s head, cut off at the neck to make it fit the unnatural built environment is pure existentialism. The importance of the individual, importance of choice, meaning and absurdity. The word sheep sounds like the word cheap, and est is the third person participle of the French verb, être, meaning to be. The author often adds the phrase to cover the sheep’s eyes, “jesuisceuxquejesuis” [Je suis ceux que je suis]. Suis being the first person singular participle of être, meaning to be. Suis being the first and second person present participle of suivre, meaning to follow. I am who I am, and I follow those who I am. Cheap mass produced goods we consume like sheep.
Rue Dénoyez, Paris 20.
“Wicked drawings for wicked minds.”
Saïr777 & Repaze
Exhibition at Friche&Nous, La Paix association project space, Rue Dénoyez, Paris 20.
Kouka comes from a privileged family background on one hand: the son of a playwright and an artist, and the grandson of a renowned french impressionist painter. But on the other hand, one of his parents is Congolese. His ethnicity is not simple and the message in his work focused on the Bantu warrior archetype carries embedded within its DNA an extraordinary hunt for identity in a society that subordinates the philosophy of his sub saharan African man.
Christian Guémy (C215)
Rue d’Ulm, Paris 5.
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.
Brazilian artist Leiga 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. We know Leiga from visiting São Paulo on seven trips as artist-documentarians.
Combo Culture Kidnapper
Muslim-Christian Lebanese-Morroccan-French artist, Combo visited Beirut with Street Art Paris in 2014, shortly before getting beaten up while making work in the street and the Charlie Hebdo murders. Street Art Paris encouraged the artist to visit the city to undertake an art residency at Mansion, a 19C Ottoman villa run as a cooperative space by a group of educated artists, designers and activists, led by trained architect and former teacher at American University in Beirut, Ghassan Maasri, and French politics researcher-turned-dancer and yoga teacher, Sandra Iché. Combo spent a month at the space and connected to his father’s Lebanese Christian roots, returning to Paris to begin putting up the slogan “Coexist”.
M.Chat aka Monsieur Chat
The artist first painted his grinning cheshire cat in public space in Orleans in 1997. The cat is painted up on rooftops, the artist balances precariously on chimneys and drainpipes. M. Chat is his way of communicating, or even of existing, according to a portrayal in the film, Chats Perchés (2004) by French arthouse director, the late Chris Marker.
The artist is eccentric and lived for the decade to 2007 on unemployment benefits. He runs workshops for disadvantaged children, teaching what he has learned about and developed himself from two artistic genres: post-graffiti and pop art.
The poetry does not stop the cat from being utilised for overt political ends. The cat’s image was used on placards at demonstrations against the Iraq War and the French National Front, in the second round of the presidential elections between Jacques Chirac and Jean-Marie Le Pen in 2002.
The cat has been welcomed in by the establishment, for example by the Musée des Beaux-Arts d’Orléans (Museum of Fine Art in Orleans). The artist gradually has been able to make ends meet from his art, including through participating in paid artist residencies.
The artist says about his work, as follows:
“Le cadre de mon travail est la ville, ses rues, ses murs, et le regard de ceux qui l’habitent. J’utilise la rue et l’environnement public comme une toile, cherchant à proposer aux passants des fenêtres imaginatives et colorées. Je marque mes parcours dans l’espace urbain.
Je cherche à participer à la naissance et à l’échange d’une culture de proximité. Il s’agit avant tout de rendre « beau » l’environnement que je traverse ; en utilisant les moyens que je prends, ou que l’on me donne. Lassé par l’individualisme du graffiti, je cherche depuis plusieurs années à développer une idée fédératrice et positive.
Depuis ce jour, ma principale activité est de peindre des sourires jaunes. Des centaines de chats sont nés sur les toits des capitales européennes, situés à des emplacements visibles du plus grand nombre. Ils assurent un réseau d’optimisme international.”
Nelio comes from a graphic design and classic graffiti background, producing a geometric 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. We went out with him to paint this work and he told us about his artistic development and different techniques for developing new work.
Rue de la Fidélité, Paris 10.
While the United Nations climate conference, COP21, was going on in Paris, London-based artist and muralist, Louis Masai, was here painting coral hearts inside Montparnasse station and on walls in the 11th and 10th arrondissements.