A Street Artist Tribute to Michael Jackson a Year After His Death
The pain is still fresh for those of us who were shocked last June 25th to hear the talented musician and entertainer we grew up with had died too soon.
We found some comfort in the sincerity and hilarity of this couple of French buddies who like to make giant mural tributes to musicians who have died. Today at one minute past midnight and with much fanfare Shygun and Keflione released photos of their tribute to Michael Jackson.
Pulling together many of the visual elements associated with the 40+ year career of Jackson, the artists inject a dose of cheeky irreverence to keep it light, if verging on disrespectful. Perhaps the most impressive and endearing part of their work is that not only do these guys paint, they also re-enact shots and poses of their honoree in action.
BSA: Can you tell us about your personal history as artists?
Shygun and Keflione: We are Street artists from Rennes, France, and we started graffiti almost 10 years ago in abandoned factories.
I’m Shygun and I live and work in Rennes, France. I’ve been active as an artist for ten years now, with my bro Keflione since day one. I gradually moved away from graffiti but never let it go completely. Today I use a logotype representing a gun with a bent barrel as a signature, and I’m planning to publish a comic book series by the end of the year.
I’m Keflione, also known as Keflouis Vuitton or Keflouis XIV. I live and work in Paris as an artist and designer. Even if I don’t do graffiti, I’m a font addict and I still work in the streets.
BSA: Why did you do this tribute to Michael Jackson?
Shygun and Keflione: MJ tragically passed out a year ago now, and since we are kids from the 80’s, it was a big loss for us. His music is eternal, and we felt we had to pay him this massive tribute. Since he was an active musician since he was 5, they were many aspects of Michael’s life to represent. The first anniversary of his death was the right moment to release our masterpiece.
BSA: Who dresses in the costumes?
Shygun and Keflione: We both get dressed as MJ look-a-likes. The costumes are as important as the painting itself. It’s not Graffiti anymore; we consider it as a performance with a painting, costumes and a photoshoot. For every artist we paid tribute to, we enjoyed using their dress codes, accessories, and the whole atmosphere of their music. It’s a part of the whole concept, pushing our limits off the wall!
BSA: What motivates you to pay such strong tributes to the memory of musicians who have passed away?
Shygun and Keflione: It’s a kind of tradition in the Hip-Hop culture. As street artists, we never did such a thing. Here we wanted to give it a try with something more creative and fun. Biggie and Tupac are Hip Hop icons who are often painted in the streets. Our goal was to go further, and represent other main artists. As Graffiti is sometimes still considered as vandalism, we choose to ironicaly use celebrities to conquer a larger public. We had so much fun doing the first one (Bob Marley) so we choose to go for a series.
To see more photos of the Michael Jackson Wall and their other tributes to musicians who have passed including Bob Marley, Biggie Smalls, Jimi Hendrix, Freddie Mercury, and Elvis, go to http://www.keflione.com/prevolution.html
At the moment, Keflione is putting an exhibition together about a year when he travelled in Asia in 2008-2009 (India, Brunei, Singapour, Thailand, Cambodia). The first “Call ME His Majesty” show will presented at the Traffic-Art-Gallery in Brussels, Belgium, in February 2011.
Check out Keflione’s work on : www.keflione.com or his blog : http://keflione.ekosystem.org/
All images courtesy and copyright of Shygun and Keflione.