banksy's shop bethlehem IMG_3275

When blank concrete walls are constructed in socioeconomically deprived areas, graffiti is sure to be painted. Not long after the Israeli controlled, Palestinian territory, the West Bank, was imprisoned inside an eight-metre high wall, street art began appearing, most notably by British-artist, Banksy.

Banksy has painted in the occupied Palestinian territories more than once – recently even sneaking through tunnels into Gaza to paint a kitten playing with a ball.  among other works aimed at forcing us to smile through the understanding of the gross injustice which is happening now. The alternative being to succumb to a feeling of helplessness, similar to the woe being experienced by people in Paris, Beirut, Iraq, and Weston-super-Mare, at this moment, too. His Gaza interventions included an unusually earnest quote: “If we wash our hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless we side with the powerful – we don’t remain neutral”.

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David de la Mano, rue Jenner detail.

Spanish mural artist David de la Mano’s newest commission finds itself in the heart of Paris’s 13th arrondissement. This building-sized work on rue Jenner near Nationale portrays dancing half-humans that create a massive human profile. Known for his figurative monochromatic silhouettes, the street artist often explores themes of nature and humanity. David de la Mano explains his poetic imagery and his mentality of staying present here with Underground Paris :

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pont des arts jace street art paris itinerrance (16)

The Pont des Arts, connecting the Louvre to Rive Gauche of Paris, once carried the weight of hundreds of thousands of lovers. Once upon a time couples would latch a lock manifesting their love, engraved with their initials to the bridge and throw away the key, immortalizing their relationship by the Seine in Paris, the city of Love. Controversially Paris and the mayor were moved to dismantle some 45 tons of iron from the bridge’s railings for fear of its collapse, but with many couples infuriated, Paris needed to find some solution to their burdensome problem. Once the romantic padlocked bridge today has been transformed into a public gallery for street art, thanks to the mayor of Paris’s collaboration with a local gallery.

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French street artist Intra Larue started casting plaster sculptures from her breasts as a joke. She works a day-job and hasn’t told her father about the endeavour yet, which is surprising because with 450 painted breasts and counting, her sculptures are slowly giving flecks of color to a grey Paris.

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graffiti Place de la République Alëxone, Hobz, Sowat, Nebay

At Place de la République, after an accidental fire ruins the newly built Cafe Monde et Média, a three-metre high hoarding is erected which a select group of established Parisian graffiti artists are invited to decorate. The order from the Mairie de Paris is that the decorations should be apolitical.

We’ve juxtaposed photos of these sanctioned artworks, and an interview with one of the participating artists – and veteran graffiti journalist – Nicolas Gzeley, editor of Spraymium Magazine, with images of the politicised messages graffitied onto the Statue de la République, itself.

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Hazul Luzah street artist interview Paris street art (2)

Hazul Luzah is an artist whose work predominates on the streets of Porto, Portugal’s second city after Lisbon. He’s 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.

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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, close to 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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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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