Hazul Luzah street artist interview Paris street art (1)

Hazul Luzah is an artist who predominates on the streets of Porto, Portugal’s second city after Lisbon. A self-taught graffiti writer, who has developed a style blending classic lettering, transformed into undecipherable, decorative calligraphic forms – which this interviewer mistook for Arabic calligraphy! – often mixed with imagery from nature, he describes his work as a “step-by-step” process, always building on his last work.

The latest invitee to the famed public art space, Le M.U.R., reserved solely for those with credible backgrounds in the street, pictured above, we briefly interviewed him, as follows.

Hazul Luzah street artist interview Paris street art (2)

What’s your artistic background?

I’m self-taught and began by making classic graffiti lettering. Over time I’ve practiced transforming the letters into abstract forms, and gradually appears my own style.

How did you first arrive at painting outdoors and what inspires you to paint work in the street?

I started to paint in Porto in 1997, where I’d become involved in the Hiphop scene. My interest in graffiti culture led to me create a crew with my friends – a normal process – and just for fun. After that I began to gain a consciousness about the impact and the meaning of exposing work in the streets and that consciousness transformed my work. Actually, I paint in the streets for social reasons, to communicate and to share.

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Hazul Luzah street artist interview Paris street art (4)

 

Hazul Luzah street artist interview Paris street art (5)

How did the opportunity arise to paint Le MUR and what can you say about the work you left at the wall?

Being given the opportunity to paint Le M.U.R. (first image) has been super. I was invited after one of the organisers, Bob Jeudy, saw my work in Porto. It’s an honour to paint in such mythical place, where a lot of good artists have passed. This painting has the normal elements that are in my current work, the feminine figure, the birds and a mix of water and wind movement. It’s like a résumé, to introduce my art to Paris.

What’s your process for producing artwork and who and, or, what have been your main influences?

My process is progressive, always derived from the last effort, step-by-step. Normally, I leave an element and add a new one. I have a lot influences, but right now I’m fascinated with the Modernism and Futurism.

What’s the significance of Arabic calligraphy in your work?

I look for inspiration in very different cultures, not just the Arab. My mother language, Portuguese, is quite feminine on the page, with curves and spheres, so perhaps this reminds you of an arabesque style?

How does the context of where you’re painting affect your art?

The energy of the place in which I’m painting makes me choose between creating a smooth or a strong style, and which colours I use, too. The environment is key to what I produce.

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Hazul Luzah street artist interview Paris street art (10)

What’s it like making street art in Porto and how does it compare to other cities such as Lisbon and Paris?

In Porto there are good artists working outdoors, but only a few, but its started growing. Paris, on the other hand, has a long history in street art, there are lots of works and commercial galleries, but it’s also hard to find a good place to paint. In Porto, its just the opposite, the street art movement is taking its first steps, but there, there are lots of good places to paint.

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Hazul Luzah forced to paint over his own work by the Porto authorities. 

In the past, you were forced by the Portuguese authorities to paint over your own art. It’s claimed one of your illegally painted works had been causing people to feel insecure. What’s your opinion on this claim, and in what way if any do you think unsanctioned street art should be controlled?

The majority of my outdoors work is made in abandoned houses, so I don’t think this causes insecurity. An art work in a space that will be destroyed and rebuilt in future shouldn’t be a problem. It’s normal that the city will clean the streets but it’s illogical to remove art from an abandoned space.

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Hazul Luzah street artist interview Paris street art (14)

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Visit Hazul Luzah on Facebook, here.

 

michael kershnar street art paris

michael kershnar street art paris

Hybridisation is probably the most and least suitable noun to describe Michael Kershnar’s work, a mixture of graffiti and skate cultures, indigenous American iconography, Old Testament stories. We met him at an apartment he’d been keeping for a few months, just off of the Grands Boulevards, where he took time to graciously share his story with us, along with some cheese and avocado.

How would you describe your artwork, its message, the audience?

Creation, The Creator, something larger, trying to invoke ancient feelings, too, something kind of familiar, which touches people regardless of gender or age.

I want little kids and their grandmothers to like it. I want a hard core audience to like it: skateboarders, cynical graffiti writers, – everyone across the board. And of course, not everyone will like it, but I like to make it accessible. I keep trying to approach what I would call ‘aesthetic truths’: perfect composition, perfect use of space, that there’s some mastery or undeniable beauty.

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Paris street artist Levalet - Underground Paris (3)

Born in the Lorraine region of East France, 27-year-old Levalet takes advantage of Paris’ architecture, combining his knowledge of theatre and painting especially, with a keen eye for topography, to produce site-specific scenes painted with Indian ink. Here, he talks about what makes his work possible, his artistic background, the legality of making street art in Paris, and places he likes putting up work.

Tell us about your works, what are your main themes and influences? 

I don’t know if we can talk about any main themes in my works, I work on staging each piece uniquely. My influences are numerous: theatre, film, plastic arts, comics. Afterwards, I contextualise it with the environment which affects the iconography of my scenes. Most of the time I rely on situations inspired by everyday life, and always a bit out of sync with reality.

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Chanoir - Alberto Vejarano - street art Paris (3)

Interview by Antoine Weber

Introduction by Ignacio Mackinze

Paris-based Colombian artist Alberto Vejarano aka Chanoir returned to working in the streets two years ago, aiming to enlarge the ‘expressive resources’ of his distinctive cats. A former student of the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, he is aware that street art has a different logic to that of working in his atelier. Having stepped down from his ivory tower, motivated by a public and his friends, Chanoir is is also doing work for brands, which poses no problems for him – actually, quite the opposite – he sees it as a means to an ends, as a prolific way to gain recognition as an artist.

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Words by Jess Zimmerman:

Michael de Feo feels just as much at home getting in trouble with the cops in Amsterdam as he does dishing out the art world jargon. This multifaceted artist —part street, part gallery—manages to walk a fine line between the hoity toity art world and the comparatively unaffected urban scene.

De Feo comes to Paris with a mission he’s repeated literally countless times before: he’s here to paint flowers. This should come as little surprise for an artist working under the moniker “Flower Guy”, and he’s been at it for a mind boggling twenty-two years.

Does this warrant our respect or should we question his mental health? The real question is whether the sight of his now iconic imagery makes him want to hurl his daisies? Fat chance. This New Yorker is staying true to the perennial that brought him fame.

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Jorge Pomar art exhibition Paris street art graffiti interview Le MUR Oberkampf. Photo by Demian Smith copyright 2014

Naively painted animals toting guns on a public wall in Paris? Chatting with Argentinian artist Jorge Pomar (AMOR), reveals he experiences little anxiety over the potential clash of such imagery.

In Paris to paint at Le M.U.R. – the three by eight metre billboard in Paris’ 11th Arrondissement, set aside by the city council for the purpose of promoting urban art – his latest painting, above, is child-like and colourful, but actually serves as a vehicle for a much darker message, not so dissimilar to his 2013 exhibition at Belleville’s project space, La Friche.

You may be drawn in by Pomar’s work at Le M.U.R. with its chipper rays of sunshine, but this mural is certainly no wallflower. Be prepared for a cold hard dose of social reality to go with it.

An interview with Pomar follows:

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Nelio street artist paints Le M.U.R. XIII, Paris 13th Arrondissement graffiti mural wall

Nelio had been staying in Buenos Aires for five months prior to painting on the Seine’s Left Bank at Le M.U.R. XIII, pictured above, learning Spanish, collaborating with local artists, and avoiding the north European freeze.

Here’s an in-depth interview made with him in the Argentinian capital, which sheds light on his development as one of France’s leading post-graffiti artists.

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Miss Van exhibition at Parisian street art project Le M.U.R. - Photo by Demian Smith (1)

Miss Van, also known by her real name, Vanessa Alice Bensimon, a native of Toulouse, in the south of France, is now one of the 140 plus artists to make their mark at the Le M.U.R. project, pictured above.

The eight by three metre former advertising billboard, which every two weeks plays host to a different graffiti-street artist – and in keeping with the ephemeral spirit intrinsic to street art discards every work to make room for the next invitee – is managed by the not-for-profit association, Le M.U.R., founded by street artists in 2007, who had been previously involved in systematically and illegally hijacking the space with artwork.

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Cleon Peterson Palais de Tokyo Lasco Project Paris street art graffiti exhibition - Photo: Demian Smith IMG_4171

In the same week Google announces the French launch of its virtual street art documentary project at the Palais de Tokyo, a similarly impressive and graffiti-related event takes place within the same venue – a body of work presented on walls in the museum’s basement, which unlike the former, can be viewed in reality, and as far as we know, free of any rights infringement issues.

The exhibition is set in the underground and forgotten entrails of this, one might say, bourgeoise art establishment – imitating the true place of graffiti art in European cultural life - and is a continuation of the project instigated by French graffiti artists, Lek & Sowat, a couple of years ago, which we reported on, here.

A play on the name of the caves at Lascaux, known for their wall-painted prehistoric art, the Palais de Tokyo’s Lasco Project, third edition – curated by the elusive Hugo Vitrani – is, perhaps, the best yet, including work by among others, early New York graffiti artist, Futura 2000 and UK graffiti pioneer, Mode 2. Other artists included in this edition are as follows: Cleon Peterson (USA), Horfée (France), Ken Sortais (France), Evol (Germany), Vhils (Portugal), Cokney (France).

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Sambre - Magda Danysz - Les Bains Douches - Paris graffuturism street art Photo by Espinozr

The first time we met he pointed me to the illegal and ephemeral exhibition organised by his crew, 1984, due to take place at a secret location the day of the 2012 French Presidential election.

The twelve strong crew infiltrated a former electricity company headquarters close to Parc de Buttes Chaumont (19éme) to produce Le Musee Imaginaire.

Once installed, security guards stalked the premises indisposed. Crowds had already arrived informed that morning by Facebook of Paris’ latest art squat, wives and girlfriends of the artists selling cake and juice for voluntary donations.

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