“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 important.”