with us, it’s a new installation by Bordallo II
is the first time I’ve made a polar bear,” says Street Artist Bordallo II, “A
species that, unfortunately, perfectly illustrates the urgency of the
That situation of course is that species like the polar bear would be a hell of a lot better off if we weren’t here allowing industry, war, and our own mindless behaviors to kill off their natural habitat.
fitting perhaps for this new installation is that the Portuguese sculptor has created
his new piece on the wall of a school in Nancy, France. Growing there are the minds that will
help us stop, reverse, and restore the natural balance. The kids will
undoubtedly love to see this polar bear and little cubs – a natural scene that
is made of recycled man-made waste.
project is spearheaded by the Parisian Mathgoth Gallery, which provided
artistic support for the production. It is part of an ongoing program called
“ADN” (Art Dans Nancy) and joins a series of murals around town by artists like
Jef Aerosol, Kogaone, David Walker, Momo and Vhils.
Ernest Pignon-Ernest, Jacques Villegle, Blek le Rat, Miss Tic, Jef Aerosol. Each of these important French Street Artists can rightly claim their mantel in the history of this movement. The one who is more often associated as being one of the first, if not the first Street Artist is Gérard Zlotykamien (Zloty).
His silhouettes or “Ephemeres” predate both Philadelphia’s Cornbread and New York’s Taki183 by a couple of years, so the argument goes, but due to the illegal nature of the practice and the fondness for the anonymity of graffiti writers, we may never know the answer. One thing is for sure, very few Street Artists from the 1960s are climbing 20 meters up a wall in Paris today, spray can in hand, to complete a new fresco.
Pushing 80 years old, Mr. Zlotykamien has been active since 1963 – a serious career of whimsical, funny and possibly frightening stick figures rendered with a quivering can and dislocated appendages afloat. Using the negative space as well, the elements gather as cells in a petri dish, scattered with meaning, an inner calculation. It’s childlike, subconscious, surreal, a cousin to Miró, perhaps, now looming above your head on this wall in a cozy neighborhood. We thought it may represent a man strolling with his walking stick.
After standing in the shadows of massive photorealistic and lushly illustrated murals of more recent vintage in cities around the world, the simplicity and purity of Zloty’s new work is frankly refreshing, and it reverberates. He says that he presented three options to members of this community, and this one was the one that was chosen. Now working here with Mathgoth Gallery, Zloty’s legal work is taking a grand scale.
Long Live Zloty!
This project was realized by the Mathgoth gallery, with special thanks for the support of Paris Habitat and APY’ART paintings.
“Gouzou” are on the loose in Grigny, thanks to their creator, French graffiti
writer and muralist JACE.
A children-friendly installation in a city that needs some love, the artist who began as a graffiti writer in 1989 here brings his famous faceless characters called the “Gouzou” to pop out of the box buildings and water the flowers of growth here.
JACE says he’s been painting this character since the early 90s and they are complex, despite their appearance. “The “Gouzou” is an anthropomorphic character, cheerful and endearing but not without a touch of malice,” says his bio, “Soft and delicate, he can be just as impertinent and teasing!”
This new community mural is in a housing estate in the district called “La Grande Borne”, or perhaps, “The Great Frontier”, but over time its reputation has become somewhat tarnished due to high unemployment, lack of economic opportunity, and probably systemic racism.
The Wiki entry says “Built as a 1960s social utopia with winding coloured buildings, it was intended to become an ideal dormitory town. With 11,000 inhabitants, it has become a by-word for poverty, drug dealing, arms trafficking, youth criminality and attacks on police, as well as arson attacks on public buildings.”
In a 2015 article in Le Parisien even the Socialist MP Malek Boutih has said about La Grande Borne, “A city where officials, including elected officials, make a pact with evil, thugs, offenders, corruption.” (translated with Google)
Maybe JACE’s Gouzou will bring a positive influence on the neighborhood?
At least that’s what the mural program “Wall Street Festival” has in mind.
“Bringing culture to working-class neighborhoods is like a duty for me,”
says organizer and founder Gautier Jourdain. “This is where the works are most
Aerosol in pursuit of the “Masters” (Eurocentrically speaking) is a permutation of Street Art and the mural making tradition going back decades, including murals made directly by “Masters” (Latino-centrically speaking) like Rivera or, say, those of the Olmec civilization in the pre Hispanic period, for example. In the last decade Frenchman and Street Artist Julien de Casabianca has documented, printed, and wheatpasted large-scale reproductions from classical painting upon city walls as part of his “Outings Project” in multiple countries.
Today we see an Italian former graffiti writer who went to university to study fine arts in Milan take his aerosol spray technique to a wall in Corbeil-Essonnes, France (population 50,400). Painted as part of the ongoing “Wall Street Art Festival”, the new mural may inspire the next generation of artists here as well.
“RAVO” Mattoni sings praise to a slice of Mona Lisa on this school building as
his reinterpretation of Leonardo da Vinci’s original, which is much smaller, hanging
in the Louvre Museum about an hour’s drive north of here. The 38 year old
artist, who was born in Varese and comes from a family of artists, including
his father and grandfather, decided to leave the painting as an in-process “unfinished”
work that shows a grid pattern and da Vincis background color for educational
is a good teaching aid for the school’s teachers,” says the walls’ artistic
director, the gallerist Gautier Jourdain, “which they now use to explain the
process to their students.”
Known for its humorist take on daily norms of societal behavior, historical events, fantasy adventures in the imagined world, and European man’s manifest destiny to conquer, the famous Imagerie d’Epinal flourished here in the 19th Century with thousands of prints and products exported far afield to other continents.
Today you can tour this illusory world in its namesake Epinal in the museum and workshops.
Additionally in this small city of 45,000 you can see its newest “Perpetual Illusion”, a four story mural by French graffiti/Street Artist Astro.
His unique techniques of optical illusion takes you back in space, often leading you to a place that looks like it would be sleekly modern and full of even, calming, light. The city itself has quite a few murals around and is well poised to receive this new art in the streets, facilitated by the Jourdains of Mathgoth Gallery in Paris.
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening : 1. Lek & Sowat and the Towers of La Rochelle 2. ASTRO’s New Fresco in South of Paris
3. Jef Aérosol for Wall Street Festival in Evry
4. Art Meets Milk – Bonzai . Kenz / First & Second Edition
BSA Special Feature: Lek & Sowat and the Towers of La Rochelle
The range and creative output of Street Artists and graffiti writers astounds many who would narrowly define these artists capabilities to the basic stereotypes. Often we find that people who began their art practice on the streets have a far greater depth of knowledge and interests.
Here we see two guys previously known primarily for being vandals educating us about the history of graffiti as a practice. In this case the Tour Saint-Nicolas, one of the three towers of the waterfront of La Rochelle, contains evidence of serious mark-making that may date back to the time of its origin in the mid-late 1300s.
For this installation Lek & Sowat tell us about the history of the structure from an architectural point of view and describe how they planned their new sculpture “in situ” using the bridge as inspiration architecturally, merging those aesthetics with their own history of graffiti.
ASTRO’s New Fresco in South of Paris
Parisian Street Artist and graffiti artist Astro (Odv/Cbs)is equally comfortable doing a sharply wild burner as he is with an optically magic trip to another dimension. His abstractions grew out of a passionate dedication to calligraphy, curvilinear finess, and attraction to dynamic forms. For this project last month in the south of the city with Galerie Mathgoth the artist created a multistory illusion that characterizes his unique style and soars above the street.
“He wanted to highlight youth, its beauty and diversity,” says Gautier Jordain about French stencil master Jef Aérosol for this new public mural he just completed in Evry, in the south of Paris.
Art Meets Milk – Bonzai . Kenz / First Edition
Since publishing a video a few weeks ago about this project the artists have alerted us to two more graffiti videos that promote cows and milk – an unusual combination of family farming and graffiti style from the urban center.
Art Meet Milk – BustArt . Homre . Kenz / Second Edition
A public/private mural campaign in the southern suburbs of Paris continues to bring international Street Artists to create works for the public space. While France continues to grapple with an increase of new immigrants, a rise in right wing sentiments and xenophobic attitudes toward populations that differ from the dominant culture, projects like this may help keep the peace and foster community.
The Wall Street Art Festival of Grand Paris Sud continues with their mural program here with a fresco on the “Paul Langevin” school, named after the prominent French physicist who developed Langevin dynamics and the Langevin equation. Art duo Mina Hamada and Zosen Bandido live in Barcelona and braved the rains here during a week of painting 5 walls to create an abstract collection of “Spring Colour” in a rather spontaneous way.
“They were the best ambassadors for painting a wall in a popular neighborhood where people of different origins and religions live together,” says Gautier Jourdain, who curates the ongoing festival. In an atmosphere where tensions between cultures has hit some high points in recent years nationally and locally, the artists themselves hail from Japan and Argentina are quite familiar with some of the issues at hand here.
“That is also why we have chosen light, simplified forms,” say Hamada and Zosen in a joint statement. “We want to paint creations that speak to everyone’s heart, that are accessible to everyone and give joy.”
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening :
1. RERO, Hendrik Beikirch, Kouka and David Mesguich at Montresso Foundation in Morocco
2. TWOONE: Wall Street Art Festival of Grand Paris Sud / Galerie Mathgoth
3. Low Bros #sweet15s Episode 11 / Miami
BSA Special Feature: RERO, Hendrik Beikirch, Kouka and David Mesguich.
Here we have an inside look at Street Artists work in, on, and around the laboratory, workshops, and museum space by RERO, Hendrik Beikirch, Kouka and David Mesguich.
TWOONE: Wall Street Art Festival of Grand Paris Sud / Galerie Mathgoth
This wall is full of egret.
The Japanese artist TWOONE was in the French town of Lieusaint (Seine et Marne) with Gautier Jourdain and the festival he began last year in Southern Paris called Wall Street Art Festival. The Yokohama born Street Artist has lived in Berlin for a handful of years and takes his realistic dreams of animals and people to frescoes across cities like Hong Kong, Miami, and Bangkok.
…sort of reminds us of a wall ROA did with us in 2010, which also featured an egret.
Another installment from the Low Bros travelogue – this one from the neighborhood that wishes it was decadent, Wynwood in Miami. The guys are entertaining in their re-enactment of celebrity tropes as they flash you past the excitement of Basel week inland.
Known for his project “Tracing Morocco”, where he got to know local tradespeople and craft makers whose lives were changing due to modern methods and technologies, the artist otherwise known as ECB has favored presenting aged countenances as something to be revered.
This new pensive person on the side of a public housing complex called Residences Yvelines Essonne in Evry, France is named after the woman who inspired it, DARYA, an 83 years old woman who lives in a tiny five-house village in Siberia. ECB says he always meets and gets to know his subjects, and goes to live with the community whom he is painting .
This mural is the 2nd for the new “Wall Street Art” mural project and is in the main commune of Grand Paris Sud in the Pyramids district. Over 25 meters high it took ECB 7 days to complete.
ECB says this piece in Evry is just the first of 11 frescoes he plans paint around the world, so look for more Siberians in Russia, Germany, the United States, Italy, Pakistan, Greece, Netherlands, and South Korea.
A fascinating intermingling of realism, fantasy, and poetry, the composition features a helmeted youth sees a winged horse in the sublime otherworld that children so easily inhabit. Part of the 100 Walls for Youth program just begun with Street Artist C215, this wall also neatly aligns with the upcoming exhibition of the artists at the gallery November 25th
Gautier Jourdain, co-owner of Mathgoth, tells us that Jasmin (Hera) and Falk (Akut) looked no further than the streets of Paris for inspiration. “They asked a student who passed by in the street if she would like to be a model for their painting. She said yes and they took pictures and used them for direct reference.”
Hera composed a poem and painted it after Akut placed the figure- a total of three days from start to finish. The text is a gentle reassurance to the young who may be confused or frightened by events that take place in this adult-run world right now.
Translated it is:
“This message is for the kids. Even though our times make it hard to see, there is magic. (We have seen it)”
Herakut’s work can also be seen in Dresden, Germany right now for the “Magic City” exhibition, which BSA are curators of the Film Program and photographer Jaime Rojo is an artist in. See an interview with Herakut here and learn about how they used artist Ernest Zacharevic as their model for that piece.
“I was conflicted about making the mural in France,” says Street Artist and muralist David Walker about the new sky-gazing countenance of a woman he painted there during the recent terrorist attacks. “I felt it I wasn’t commenting on the current situation there.”
It’s often a point of contention with public art and one that is discussed by city elders, academics, passersby: what role does art in the public have? Is it to advocate, reflect, comment upon, distract, reassure?
Commissioned public and private murals and illegal Street Art are all judged by many and assumptions about the artists intent or role are called into question, – even by the artist. “What’s the point of taking up more wall space?,” asks Walker. “Due to the nature of my work, I can have internal conflictions wherever I go,” he says.
Even though Boulogne-sur-Mer is three hours north of Paris, people in the town felt very affected by the attacks, and many conversations touched upon the events – which seemed to be unfolding even as he painted. “During my stay the TV looped with news of another attack in a northern city just a few hours away,” he says.
It was a 7-day long installation and he says he enjoyed the conversations that he had with people on the street. Some paid him compliments and he says he even appreciated those who didn’t particularly like his work.
“A few commented that the image was not exactly to their taste, but they appreciated that I worked hard everyday and the gesture.” Not exactly work for the thin-skinned, that’s for sure.
Ultimately, Walker says that he decided the new mural plays an important part in the dialogue of the city.
“After painting and seeing and hearing the buzz happening around the wall, in the newspapers and cafes and restaurants we visited, the people made me feel that actually sometimes something simple, hopeful and human can be enough – or even what’s needed from art. I was, at times, taken aback by the positivity I felt towards the work and I was relieved that somehow it did have a place there.”
A newly transformed wall in Rue de la Glacière in the 13th Arr. of Paris today from the Norwegian STRØK represents a genuinely new angle for the artist to approach the figure in space. Using his personal photographs taken from the midst of human activity, the stencil artist commands the open space of a wall with figures caught so realistically that you stop for a moment to register what you are seeing on this huge expanse.
He told us in Brooklyn a few weeks ago about this new piece he was developing for Paris and how it represents a slightly new direction for him, in a matter of degrees. “It looks like the figures are falling but if you tilt your head then it looks like they standing.”
Currently in the capital to prepare for his new solo show opening June 3rd at Galerie MathGoth, STRØK will undoubtedly be presenting new approaches to his distinct craft as his mind is alive with clever ideas constantly and he’s not afraid of taking chances. Here are some exclusive shots for BSA readers to enjoy.