“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
The German Street Artist and fine artist Case Maclaim is generally recognized by fans for his expressive painted hands, often mid movement, many times with a transparency to them, as if captured between gestures.
In this case the gesture is flipping a coin to see if it will land “Pile ou Face” (Heads or Tails), the murals name that refers to the outcome of Englands decision to withdraw from the European Union.
Perhaps it feels like the fate of everyday individuals who live here is out of their hands, decided by the flippancy of a casual coin toss, but surely folks on the edge are some of the first to feel the effects such huge shifts in ways that are both social and economic.
The new piece in Grigny in the South of Paris is part of the Wall Street Art festival of Grand Paris Sud and Mr. Jourdain has been organizing walls for new murals this year, mostly featuring international Street Artists whose work he exhibits at his Galerie Mathgoth. In fact Maclaim will be returning there November 9th for a new exhibition.
For this public art piece Maclaim and his wife Samira, who often travels with him, enjoyed the curious and generous spirit of the local neighbors who often were present during the painting, asking questions, sharing observations, and flipping coins.