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C215 street art Colombo streets in Sri Lanka

C215 stencil portrait in Colombo, Sri Lanka

Interview by Jess Zimmerman

Christian Guémy travels to bring his work to environments that remain virgin and pristine, a.k.a that haven’t become trendy hubs of street art culture. We discovered he’s quick to diss a few obvious ones, like New York or London, but it’s his criticism of his own hood, Paris, that really resonates. Calling in from Sri Lanka, we got the straight scoop on what drives this artist off the beaten track.

The resentment that has propelled Guémy out of his own city is situated in what he describes as the ‘trendy scene’, where graffiti and street art have been transformed into something fashionable, and who can blame him? Despite the fact that Guémy is no little league player — he’s certainly been around the block a few times — he stays remarkably faithful to the original sentiments characteristic of May ’68, a date attributed with the birth of street art in Paris:

C215 street art Rome photo copyright c215

Rome

In a historic moment of true social upheaval, students and workers went on strike together, unified under a critique of capitalist society and all it entailed. This subsequently informed a street art movement and generation of artists concerned with freedom of speech and personal expression.

Viewed in this light, Guémy’s global mission to get his intricate stencil work up in cities everywhere brings with it commendable altruistic appeal; his creative drive literally knows no boundaries, physical or otherwise. His work is passionate and meaningful, not to mention visually stunning, but it’s the intent behind the action where the real intrigue is at.

It’s quickly clear that Guémy isn’t simply bringing his work to new locations, but is actually out spreading the gospel; that is, the almighty street dogma of personal virtue and integrity. In a constant rejection of the potential corruption commercial success may entail, this artist seeks new territory in an effort to stay true to the art form, but also as a resolution to his unshakable sense of self.

The word C215 repeats the most is ‘freedom’, which if psychoanalysis has anything to tell us, is suggestive of at least some level of personal complex:

His constant preoccupation with those he never outright labels as sell-outs or at least fashion-victims (and yet the implication is clear) suggests an inner tension, especially when indirectly yet defensively pitted against his own projected cred— “this is a lifestyle, fashion or not”… “some say I’m fashionable, some say I’m not, personally I don’t care” — revealing a vulnerable underbelly that is perhaps struggling with similar issues.

The question at hand though is whether this hang-up on ‘freedom’ has to do with a perceived insufficiency-of or a carousal-in.

c215 street art haiti Photo: copyright c215

Haiti

This determination to remain free from constraint or imposition is the result of a calamity that is currently running deep in street and graffiti culture: artists increasingly gain fame and success through institutional recognition as opposed to overcoming the realities and difficulties of creating (illegal) art in the streets. As a tribulation that is clearly here to stay, this happening represents a delicate area for artists like C215.

When questioned about the personal versus commercial nature of his work, Guémy is visibly irritated: at first he quickly snips “this isn’t advertising” defending the candor of his work, and revealing how close the association between commercial success and total implosion is for him. But in the next breath, perhaps realizing the futility of denying the list of gallery exhibitions and painting sales trailing his name, he suddenly becomes reflective, gently acknowledging this contradiction with the quiet concession, “we all have a job”.

In the headstrong and yet impulsively wavering nature that I have come to assume are simply part of Guémy’s character, he quickly retracts any inadvertent admission, drastically switching his tone and returning to the critical stance he holds against those who are “all about the exposure”. Not surprisingly he goes back to throwing some serious shade on the cities that, in his own words, have since lost their potential for any real experimentation, underscoring the fact that he is currently half-way across the globe in an effort to live and work by his principles.

C215 street art Tunisia Djerbahood - Galerie Itinerrance - Photo: copyright 2014 C215

Djerbahood, Tunisia

Guémy’s main issue and concern is that the spirit of his work remain ‘true’, by which he insinuates free from commercial, spectacle, or otherwise generally frowned-upon sanctioning. He is rebelling against an invisible compromising force, embodied (at least for him) in the ever-increasing popularity of the movement. Freedom to Guémy clearly means total individualism, combined with a healthy helping of personal vindication.

In a last attempt at poking the bear, I questioned Guémy about his use of social media and received a response that again, embodies a fascinating adherence to a morally-guided personal vocation combined with some clear inner tension.

Guémy’s nearly 400,000 likes on Facebook do not suggest an artist on the fringes, deeply antagonistic to society— an image it seems his self-concept is tempted to put-forth, but he does hold a truly unique ideology in terms of his digital exposure:

“I don’t think you can separate street art from the internet. I take a picture from reality and then transform it into a stencil, but it always retains it’s virtual roots. But then the painting itself is real, but then it gets photographed and returns to the digital. Its a constant transformative process. It feeds into itself, it’s cyclical. It’s all about sampling and looping, sampling and looping”.

C215 India street art  Delhi photo: copyright C215

Delhi

Despite the fact that social media is his primary method of outreach, as well as functioning to expand the viewable base of his work (see his carefully curated and organized Flickr, a true work of art in itself), Guémy emphasizes that it’s also a method of maintaining his integrity. In the sense that his social media remains autonomous and fully controlled by Guémy himself, it’s indisputable that any disseminated message remains his own; “this isn’t Shorditch, its not just a matter of hype.”

Guémy contrasts his social media following with blogs and journals where “you end up working for an end that isn’t even your own”, associating this external source of media validation with a distinct risk: “what happens if they decide you aren’t It anymore? If they boycott you? I don’t ever want to be dependent on any establishment or institution. I want to stay myself, and never loose my dignity to being fashionable.”

It’s clear that C215 acknowledges the conditions that characterize the scene today and chooses distinctly to remain aloof, preferring instead the conditions he finds in areas like Sri Lanka. Whether this continues to make him an innovator or a deserter is up for debate, but regardless one thing remains true, he’s not compromising diddly-squat while he’s at it.

C215 street art Paris Photo: copyright 2012 Demian Smith

Vitry-sur-Seine, Paris

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Sten-Lex-Le-MUR-11e-Arrondissement-Street-Art-Paris-Photo: Demian-Smith-IMG_7279  Sten-Lex-Le-MUR-11e-Arrondissement-Street-Art-Paris-Photo: Demian-Smith-IMG_7279

Roman street artists, Sten & Lex, were in Paris this weekend accepting the invitation offered to them to create a mural for Le M.U.R., the project which revolves around a three by eight metre billboard set aside by the city council for the purpose of promoting street art.

Among the first artists to produce stencil graffiti in Italy, they created the wall, at the weekend at the wall on the corner of rue Oberkampf and rue Saint-Maur in the 11th Arrondissement, using their experimental ‘stencil poster’ technique, which involves gluing a printed image onto a surface and then cutting away the black parts. After this, the remaining matrix is painted and destroyed. The technique creates a unique artwork, with the cut away scraps left dangling from the image and forming part of the work itself.

Sten & Lex point out to people who buy their artworks, created using this technique, that it is an ‘artwork in progress’ and that the matrix could fall completely apart in the future. The work that they produced for Le M.U.R. (Association Le Modulable Urbain Reactif) has been helped in its ‘progress’ by the weekend’s rainfall, with many of the dangling scraps already having been turned to a sad-looking pulp.

The technique is an evolution of the pair’s “Hole School” a name taken because of its assonance with the “old school”, and started life in 2003, originally borrowing the half shades from the field of graphic design to create the impression of there being a gradient. The artwork you see here is an evolution of this technique and creates the illusion of it being produced in a grey scale, but if you look at the image from a close distance you will see only black and white lines and cannot see the image. Their main influences from a stylistic perspective are silk-screen printing and pixel-based printing. However, they are also interested in engraving techniques.

Sten & Lex find their images on the internet, in street markets and in newspapers, following a purely aesthetic criterion, and using only subjects who are not looking into the camera. Interestingly they have discovered that from the 1960s people have been looking more and more into the camera and smiling.

The couple were invited by Banksy to the Cans Festival in 2008 for which they created an ecclesiastic image, the “Saint”, but have since moved away from religious imagery in their murals. Since then they have experimented with a variety of imagery, including a quest to bring back to life forgotten representations, such as old postage stamps and banknotes. Today Sten & Lex are interested in creating original portraiture, which up to now they have been unable to due to time constraints.

Sten-Lex-Le-MUR-11e-Arrondissement-Street-Art-Paris-Photo: Demian-Smith-IMG_7279

Sten-Lex-Le-MUR-11e-Arrondissement-Street-Art-Paris-Photo: Demian-Smith-IMG_7279Sten-Lex-Le-MUR-11e-Arrondissement-Street-Art-Paris-Photo: Demian-Smith-IMG_7279Sten-Lex-Le-MUR-11e-Arrondissement-Street-Art-Paris-Photo: Demian-Smith-IMG_7279

Sten-Lex-Le-MUR-11e-Arrondissement-Street-Art-Paris-Photo: Demian-Smith-IMG_7279

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Background to interview:

(By Brazilian cultural journalist, Maria Fernanda Schweichler – MyLifeonMyBike.com)

Last Thursday Street Art Paris and My Life on My Bike had the opportunity to interview one of the most famous street artists in the world: Shepard Fairey. It’s a tremendous responsibility to interview an artist like him, who is also involved in business and politics. But yes, working as a journalist of street art I believe that when we have pure intentions and our goal is to absorb what the artist has to show in a positive way, we always get the right dots to connect.

Shepard Fairey is the brains behind the Obey Giant campaign, and also the Barack Obama Hope poster, which went viral during Obama’s first presidential election campaign. Shepard came to Paris to launch a collection for Levi’s at its flagship store on the Champs-Élysées and also to create a huge wall in the Thirteenth Arrondissement of Paris.

During the interview we talked about his relationship with the fashion world, the project with Levi’s, all the charity programs that he is involved with and the help he gives to several institutions, and also about how he feels nowadays after being responsible for influencing so many people to vote for Barack Obama with the poster, Hope.

It’s hard to deny that Shepard is a mix of artist, politician and businessman. Talking with him and hearing his strong voice and well articulated answers I realised that he has a strong power to make a difference and to be a great example. It was really beautiful to hear how he is concerned about using his own profit to help others and the environment by collaborating with non–profit organisations such as Occupy Wall Street, Surfrider Fundation and many others.

When the interview finished, in an informal way I asked him if he was planning to paint something in Paris, and so we had the information first-hand of the address of the wall that he was going to paint (which was kept secret for the first two days of work). The wall was painted over three long days, and we were there following step by step his work in progress, which you can see in the video and in our previous post.

On the third day (Sunday 18th June)  the gallery responsible for the  project invited the media, fans and people involved with street art to make a conference on the residential building  that he was painting. As a super-star Shepard was there posing for pictures and giving autographs with patience, even with a lot of work to do before finally finishing the black and red, and involved and beautiful painting.

Between Thursday and Sunday, My life on My Bike and Street Art Paris recorded different moments and perspectives of his stay in Paris to produce a video that you can watch now in the video above and discover more about Shepard Fairey’s positive ideas and his performance in P

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Shepard Fairey Street Art Paris mural by Galerie Itinerrance & Marie du 13e. Photo: copyright 2012 Demian Smith IMG_7158-2

Shepard Fairey (pictured above) is currently putting up a huge mural in the south of Paris. Street Art Paris and MyLifeOnMyBike.com were invited to interview this artist, businessman and campaigner by Levi’s.

Fairey is in town to launch a street art inspired clothing range at Levis’ newly-launched flagship store on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. Graffiti artist-turned entrepreneur, André is also involved in the Levis project, known for his illegally and prolifically painted character, Monsieur A., which was once a staple on Paris walls and rooftops, and distinguishable for its disregard of the oft-macho Paris graffiti scene, by regularly using the colour pink in his works.

The filmed interview with Shepard Fairey by Street Art Paris will be published shortly. Watch this space!

Shephard Fairey aka Obey Giant Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian SmithEarly work by Shepard Fairey

Shepard Fairey is known as the brains behind the Obey Giant and Barack Obama Hope poster campaigns. Shepard Fairey’s career began in 1989 as a student at the Rhode Island School of Design. He launched the “Andre the Giant ” sticker campaign (pictured above) that featured an original image of the wrestler of the same name which Fairey had found in a newspaper. The response was so enthusiastic that Fairey morphed the image into a global street art campaign, and more recently, the symbolic prop of the Obey clothing company. Maintaining an active presence in public spaces, despite his inroads into countless galleries and museums, Fairey loves the passion and excitement of the streets that, he maintains, can never be replicated in an indoor setting. This is not the first time that he has visited Paris, check out this old school piece (date unknown!).

The Wall:
Shephard Fairey aka Obey Giant Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian Smith
Shephard Fairey aka Obey Giant Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian Smith
Shephard Fairey aka Obey Giant Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian Smith
Shephard Fairey aka Obey Giant Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian Smith
Shephard Fairey aka Obey Giant Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian Smith
Shephard Fairey aka Obey Giant Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian Smith

**UPDATE ** 18/06/12

The wall as it looks finished:
Shephard Fairey aka Obey Giant Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian SmithShephard Fairey aka Obey Giant Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian Smith
Shephard Fairey aka Obey Giant Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian Smith
Shephard Fairey aka Obey Giant Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian Smith

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Jace hits Le MUR

June 8, 2012

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Jace - Le M.U.R. - Street Art Paris Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian Smith
Jace - Le M.U.R. - Street Art Paris Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian Smith
Jace - Le M.U.R. - Street Art Paris Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian Smith
Jace - Le M.U.R. - Street Art Paris Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian Smith
Street artist Jace has been given reign over Le M.U.R., the project which revolves around a three by eight metre billboad set aside by the city council for the purpose of promoting street art.

The artist who has been doing graffiti since 1989, famous for his Gouzou, a special character that can be found all around the tropical island and French protectorate, Reunion Island, put up his design yesterday afternoon at the wall on the corner of rue Oberkampf and rue Saint-Maur in the 11th Arrondissement.

Jace’s
gouzou are often placed in absurd, funny situations and you will find them all over the world including in Madagascar, Mauritius, and Bali, and now on Le Mur.

Recently the character was ripped off by a large Chinese brand to promote their products, but luckily the Chinese authorities gave Jace back control of the gouzou and it has become a jurisprudence case for author’s rights in China.

Jace and his gouzou can be seen around the streets of Paris if you look extremely carefully, but if you are unable to trawl around searching for them, you can just go and visit his exhibition opening this Saturday. Details below:

Jace, 20 Piges – Galerie Mathgoth

Opening in the presence of the artist on Saturday, June 9th at 6pm.

The show will be open to the public Tuesday to Saturday, 2 – 7pm, until June 21st.

103, rue Saint-Maur – 75011 Paris

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Horfee graffiti Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian SmithHorfee graffiti Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian Smith

Horfe is one of the leading graffiti writers in the world, leaving his mark outdoors for the past 12 years, mainly in Paris, where his graffiti can be found on shop fronts, the sides of trucks, walls, train sidings and roof tops, city-wide. His style of graffiti is extremely unique. His ‘pieces’ blend letterforms and flat coloured illustration, while his ‘dubs’ (graffiti painted usually very quickly with no more than two or three colours), for example, convey a naïveté that disregards the development of the graffiti style and is reminiscent of early New York graffiti. This ‘return to the source’ style has also been adopted in the outdoors typographic graffiti of hardcore British graffiti artist Sickboy (a former stablemate of Banksy during their Bristol years), amongst others, under the influence of London-based writers such as Petro, since his move to London in 2007.

The documentary film on Horfe, Death is Home, below, is part of the Crack & Shine International series by London creative agency Topsafe – to which Horfe belongs, along with the progressive Brit’ graffiti artist, Roids – and is directed by London-born, New-York-based photographer, Will Robson-Scott.

Horfee graffiti Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian SmithHorfee graffiti Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian SmithHorfee graffiti Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian SmithHorfee graffiti Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian Smith

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Artiste-Ouvrier - Association LE M.U.R Modulable Urbain Reactif Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian Smith

Detail from Artiste-Ouvrier’s painting for Le MUR (l’association Modulable Urbain Reactif), on the corner of Rue Oberkampf and Rue Saint-Maur in the 11th Arrondissement

Artiste-Ouvrier - Association LE M.U.R Modulable Urbain Reactif Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian SmithArtiste-Ouvrier - Association LE M.U.R Modulable Urbain Reactif Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian Smith

Tell us a little about your artistic background and what inspired you to first start painting stencils, and become a street artist?

Street art came late for me, as I began stencilling in 1993, in order to have artworks from Klimt or Paolo Uccello, rather than the usual posters which I found silly and too far away from the painting. So basically I studied Philosophy at the Sorbonne for five years, and a bit of art history, after, and before having all kinds of jobs, from waiter to train cleaner, teacher for violent children. I began to paint in the street, half legally always, in 2003. I was already painting walls, but in the squats in Paris where I used to live.

What prompts you to paint work in the street?

The street is more than a canvas and it doesn’t have borders actually so it’s like a huge collective work changing everyday and mixed with architecture and all the urban things. I like to paint in the countryside too. But I don’t like spraying everywhere like so many do, just for fame and pretending they do the revolution as they just want to sell their stuff, like every artist must.

Artiste-Ouvrier - Association LE M.U.R Modulable Urbain Reactif Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian SmithArtiste-Ouvrier - Association LE M.U.R Modulable Urbain Reactif Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian SmithArtiste-Ouvrier - Association LE M.U.R Modulable Urbain Reactif Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian Smith

Your street style is very unique, how did you develop it?

I did multilayer technique in the nineties, like everybody else who want to have colours. In 2000 when I started again, after a long, long trip in Ethiopia, I wanted to become pro in a way and I created, or I found a special way to cut and paint, with only two layers and as many colours as I wanted. Of course, I have also a 19th century connection, and seeking of meaning, that would alone make maybe a kind of style.

Take us through your process for producing stencils?

First of all you need to know what you want to paint, and why. Once you produce your image with your camera or your pencil, photocopy and cut. And then paint, paint, paint. The question is where and why.

Where and when did you put up your first street piece?

2003, rue des Deux-Boules in Paris 1st arrondissement, behind the squat of Electron Libre – it was a metal door in a middle of a big wall that later got toyed, except for my door – I don’t know why. You have all the pictures on lapanse.com

Artiste-Ouvrier - Association LE M.U.R Modulable Urbain Reactif Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian Smith

Artiste-Ouvrier painting at Le M.U.R. in the Oberkampf neighbourhood in Paris 11th Arrondissement.

Artist-Ouvrier-Street-Art-Paris-12

Le M.U.R. mural (detail)

Artiste-Ouvrier - Association LE M.U.R Modulable Urbain Reactif Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian SmithArtiste-Ouvrier - Association LE M.U.R Modulable Urbain Reactif Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian Smith

Le M.U.R. (detail)

Artiste-Ouvrier - Association LE M.U.R Modulable Urbain Reactif Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian Smith

Le M.U.R. (detail)

Artiste-Ouvrier - Association LE M.U.R Modulable Urbain Reactif Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian Smith

Le M.U.R. vernissage

There’s often an erotic tone to the portraits you make. Is there a place for eroticism in street art?

Well when I make photos with models, they are no pro most of the time, and we look for emotion and meaning. So the body language turns out to look sensual maybe, sometimes erotic even but I try not to paint too many shocking scenes in the street. For me it’s beautiful and I don’t want to spoil this beauty by being naughty. One has to find the balance, what to show, what to hide.

You used to be a writer, but you dropped words in favour of stencils. Does your previous career influence the artwork that you produce?

Of course a lot! Always the meaning involved. Recently someone asked for an old theatre play “Men on Mars” and who knows? Maybe I’ll work as a writer again. I used to say that my drawers were blooming, all the unknown text inside getting spoiled and feeding the painting.

How do you choose on which walls to paint? Do you prefer certain contexts over others?

I do only legal or half legal so basically I like to be invited. And sometimes I ask the owner if I can, like I did in India. I like the doors very much, especially metal doors, there I can do a lot of details.

Aside from walls, what other surfaces do you like painting on and what has been the most unusual?

My drawer collection first, then wood in general I like to paint and recently transparent surfaces that I like very much. Canvas, everything can be sprayed.

Artiste-Ouvrier - Association LE M.U.R Modulable Urbain Reactif Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian Smith

Artiste Ouvrier stencil street art at Rue de L’Ourcq in Paris’ 19th Arrondissement

Artiste-Ouvrier - Association LE M.U.R Modulable Urbain Reactif Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian Smith

Artiste Ouvrier collaborates with Jana & Js (bottom left) in Paris’ 13e Arrondissement

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced putting up a piece on the streets?

I made a 5 metre high wall and I was not too proud of it, and I had a big tree to paint in mirror, 160cmx300cm. The wind especially can be very tricky and of course the rain. I had once to struggle with 15 teenagers who wanted to take my spray cans. It’s not always smooth.

Tell us about some of the reactions that people have had to your work on the street.

Some old people asked me to stop to tell me it was wonderful and it was art and I should start again to paint they didn’t want to bother. It happened more than once and I found it so sweet. People’s reactions are usually very nice to me.

How do you feel when one of your pieces is buffed or vandalised?

Just the way it is. I try not to feel anything bad. It can be anger or sadness, but there’s no need to worry about it as we cannot do anything against it, except Mr Banksy who puts plastic protection on his walls. Too expensive to be toyed I guess.

Artiste-Ouvrier - Association LE M.U.R Modulable Urbain Reactif Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian Smith

Outdoors work in the Butte-aux-Cailles in Paris’ 13th Arrondissement (detail) 

Artiste-Ouvrier - Association LE M.U.R Modulable Urbain Reactif Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian SmithArtiste-Ouvrier - Association LE M.U.R Modulable Urbain Reactif Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian SmithArtiste-Ouvrier - Association LE M.U.R Modulable Urbain Reactif Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian Smith

Commissioned outdoor work by Artiste Ouvrier in the Butte-aux-Cailles

Tell us about the stencil collective, Working Class Artists (WCA), which you established in 2005? What is it about working with other street artists that you like?

I like to work with other artists. WCA is a more doing research about the same technique I found in 2000, and giving all I know to young artists, to see them improve it in their own way and go further. The blue that comes out of indigo is more beautiful than indigo itself, but without indigo you wouldn’t have blue. I played a bit the indigo role in the WCA story. More than 15 WCA fellows at this day, in Germany, Paris and Normandy.

Tell us who are some of your favourite stencil artists?

I like M-City very much, he knows how and why he uses stencil. I have a lot of respect for Miss Tic or Jérôme Mesnager (but it’s not stencil). Le Bateleur inspired me but he’s dead now. I like Ananda Nahu in Brazil very, very much, and all the nice anonymous. I don’t know, I like stencil most of the time, except fashion victims or people who don’t cut themselves their stencils.

We see lots of your work around the Buttes-aux-Cailles in the south of Paris. What is it that you like about this place, and more generally about painting in Paris? And how does it compare here to other places in which you’ve painted?

Just by chance people asked me to come back there and then I had more stencil than somewhere else, where they vanished most of the time, for a reason or another.

What we can expect to see painted by you for this year’s Lezarts festival on 9-10 June?

Actually I did only the 2008 edition and 2010 for it was the 10th birthday and we all came back to do featuring. This year it should be another artist. Yet I don’t know who’s going make it.

What do you think is the importance of street art?

We will see. I don’t like to much the “middle” effect. It can help, I don’t know. We slowly invade the contemporary art and it will be so for the next generation so it may become boring maybe when it’s official. I like to paint legally, yet I don’t like to follow the flock.

What are your plans for 2012/2013?

I intend to make a living in India where there are so many possibilities to paint in the street and to do exhibitions. I’d like to come back often to Paris but also to have the opportunity to make shows in New York maybe. Or anywhere else where people want me to.

Artiste-Ouvrier - Association LE M.U.R Modulable Urbain Reactif Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian SmithArtiste-Ouvrier - Association LE M.U.R Modulable Urbain Reactif Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian Smith

To learn more and to connect with Artiste-Ouvrier check out his website artiste-ouvrier.com and, or, Facebook profile.

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Le MoDuLe De ZeeR aka LMDLZR -Zeer hits Le M.U.R. after work by VHILS is stolen Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Fernanda HinkeLe MoDuLe De ZeeR aka LMDLZR -Zeer hits Le M.U.R. after work by VHILS is stolen Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Fernanda Hinke

Last night, French street artist Le MoDuLe De ZeeR hit ‘Le M.U.R.’ (Association Modulable, Urbain, Réactif), after the authorised work by Portuguese street artist Vhils was stolen earlier in the week.

The work of VHILS was taken on May 23rd by dastardly midnight marauders. The Le M.U.R. association, which manages the three by eight metre billboad set aside by the city council for the purpose of promoting street art, where Rue Oberkampf meets Rue Saint Maur in the 11th Arrondissement, invited the French street artist also known as LMDLDZR to create a temporary artwork to fill the artistic void.

Le MoDuLe De ZeeR aka LMDLZR -Zeer hits Le M.U.R. after work by VHILS is stolen Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Fernanda HinkeLe MoDuLe De ZeeR aka LMDLZR -Zeer hits Le M.U.R. after work by VHILS is stolen Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Fernanda Hinke

At 1 am, LMDLDZR started work on his figurative and abstract graphic-style design, using just black marker pens, managing to fill the white panelled wall in just two hours. He signed the work with a QR code also drawn in his motif pattern style.

Le MoDuLe De ZeeR aka LMDLZR -Zeer hits Le M.U.R. after work by VHILS is stolen Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Fernanda Hinke

The artist is known for his ‘Tic Tac Toe’ street campaign, which can be seen all over Paris, and soon, on walls in New York and London the artist recently revealed to Street Art Paris over a stealthily supped espresso.

Le MoDuLe De ZeeR aka LMDLZR -Zeer hits Le M.U.R. after work by VHILS is stolen Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian SmithLe MoDuLe De ZeeR aka LMDLZR -Zeer hits Le M.U.R. after work by VHILS is stolen Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian SmithLe MoDuLe De ZeeR aka LMDLZR -Zeer hits Le M.U.R. after work by VHILS is stolen Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian Smith

The Le M.U.R. Project billboard usually changes every two weeks although this time the gap was a little shorter. To find out a little more about Le M.U.R. please check out our previous post which covered VHILS’ work. We will be regularly covering developments at Le MUR so check back soon to stay updated.

Below is another great piece by Le MoDuLe De ZeeR:

Le MoDuLe De ZeeR aka LMDLZR -Zeer hits Le M.U.R. after work by VHILS is stolen Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian Smith

Photos unless otherwise stated, and additional information, from our friends at MyLifeOnMyBike blog.

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Le M.U.R. - Association Modulable Urbain Reactif - Vhils aka Alexandre Farko Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian Smith

Portuguese street artist VHILS, aka Alexandre Farto, has made ‘Le M.U.R.’ (Association Modulable, Urbain, Réactif) in Oberkampf, creating a large paper cut out stencil rather than his usual stone carved work.

VHILS himself works with a variety of media but is probably best known for the above mentioned relief portraits that he chisels into plaster and brick walls all over the world and in places as far flung as Shanghai, China. However, he is also at home creating portraits out of collage and wheat paste when the opportunity to attack the wall itself does not arise.

The Le M.U.R. Project revolves around a three by eight metre billboad set aside by the city council for the purpose of promoting street art by presenting a different artist the opportunity to get up on the billboard every two weeks. Each time, the old artwork is covered by mash up of advertising posters and the latest artist is invited to put up their piece. The Le M.U.R. association was conceived in 2003 by Jean Faucheur and has been getting work up on the billboard consistently since 2007. A perusal of the Le MUR website reveals the staggering number of artists that have participated in this project and allows you to see the different incarnations of the billboard.

Le M.U.R. - Association Modulable Urbain Reactif - Vhils aka Alexandre Farko Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian SmithLe M.U.R. - Association Modulable Urbain Reactif - Vhils aka Alexandre Farko Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian Smith

We, at Street Art Paris, intend to cover Le MUR regularly so please check back in two weeks time for details of the latest piece…

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Leo &Pipo - rue Lambert  Paris Street Art Photo: copyright Le & PipoLeo &Pipo - rue Lambert  Paris Street Art Photo: copyright Leo & PipoLeo &Pipo - rue Lambert  Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian Smith

Tell us a little about your artistic backgrounds and how you go into street art? 

In fact, we have always worked on art projects together. We made music for many years and Leo & Pipo was a kind of declination of what we made in music. We used to sample very primitive pieces from the 1920s and early electronic from the 1940s and 1950s, which we combined with modern sounds. It was already a reflection on collage. We use the same approach for our street art project. Our idea is to place old photographs on a modern background and observe if the combination can create a new meaning.

Leo &Pipo - rue Lambert  Paris Street Art Photo: copyright Leo & PipoLeo &Pipo - rue Lambert  Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian SmithLeo &Pipo - rue Lambert  Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian SmithLeo &Pipo - rue Lambert  Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian Smith

Where and when did you put up your first street piece?

It was in May 2008 in the 15th arrondissement of Paris. Honestly, our first piece was not a big success.

Tell us a little about your pieces. What’s the story behind the people you paste up?

Our work is an attempt to express the collective memory. We mainly paste family photography – and the emotion we all feel about our ancestors is quite universal. We generally don’t know who these people are, because we only paste anonymous characters. We try to find old photographs around us – our own family, our friends and also flea markets – but also on the internet, to meet our needs in terms of quantity. To know who these people are doesn’t really interest us. For us, they are just symbolic. So we choose them primarily for their charisma. This is a very subjective and sensitive choice.

Leo &Pipo - rue Lambert  Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian SmithLeo &Pipo - rue Lambert  Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian Smith

How do you pick your locations and what do you think is the importance of context to your street art?

We are always keeping an eye out for new locations, because we want our characters to be in line with their environment as much as possible. Our goal is that our characters melt ‘naturally’ with the neighbourhood we choose. Today, we have a significant catalogue of photographs so we can be more precise, but sometimes – mainly when we go in the suburbs, because we do not go every day – chance is important. Our main rule is to avoid walls already occupied by other street-artists.

How do you feel when one of your pieces is ripped down very soon after going up. How do you feel when one of your pieces is added to by another street artist?

We are aware that the street work is inherently ephemeral. Some figures only stay a few days, while others can stay for several years. Of course, it’s always annoying to see our work damaged, but we are not fetishists and when a figure is pasted, it belongs to the street. We prefer to think of our next figure rather than our last one. Concerning the involvement of other artists around our pieces, it’s always a real pleasure for us. We decided to intervene in the streets because we found Paris very traditional and very boring, so when someone feels stimulated by one of our figures and decides to express himself, we are delighted.

Tell us about some of the reactions that people have had to your work on the street.

Responses are always very positive, while at the same time, we have never faced the owner of a building. Maybe it’s because our work has no direct message. It’s more an aesthetic action. To respond completely, we are not looking for this kind of contact with the audience. We are convinced that our action works well when we are discreet. We think it’s more magical for the people who discover one of our pieces.

Leo &Pipo - rue Lambert  Paris Street Art Photo: copyright Le & PipoLeo &Pipo - rue Lambert  Paris Street Art Photo: copyright Leo & PipoLeo &Pipo - rue Lambert  Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian Smith

What is it that you like about putting up work in Paris?

First, we are originally from the Parisian suburbs where the atmosphere between people is completely different than in Paris. The social relations are very strong in the suburbs and when we moved into the ‘big city’, we felt completely anonymous. Our first reaction was very sensitive before being theorised. We finally decided to paste these characters to appropriate the city, to build our own benchmarks, to recreate an imaginary famil. In this sense, our work is intrinsically linked to the city of Paris. On the other hand, we are fortunate to work in Paris as it is a city whose walls are steeped in history. We try to respect the ‘mood’ of the city, that’s why we chose black and white photography – to echo a time when Paris was still like a big village.

Where in else in the world apart from Paris would you like to put up pieces?

We already pasted some of our characters in around 12 countries. Our favourite city is Berlin. We have already pasted some displays in this city, but it’s quite difficult because Berlin is already completely saturated.

Leo &Pipo - rue Lambert  Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian Smith

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced putting up a piece on the streets?

The biggest challenges are always related to climbing. Our most difficult elevation was in the 13th arrondissement, near prison de la Santé.

Leo &Pipo - rue Lambert  Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian Smith

What are your plans for the rest of 2012?

We have just completed a campaign of false election posters, and we are going to decorate a beautiful Parisian hotel. Today, our main goal is to expand our activities. We produced two short movies this year, GhostPaper and Echoes. We launched our second mixtape, of rare French music from the early ‘80’s. We are also preparing an EP with a great MC from NY called Turtle Handz, Fukushima Mon Amour.

Leo &Pipo - rue Lambert  Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian Smith

Leo & Pipo’s Flickr page: here.

Leo & Pipo’s Facebook page: here.

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