HOPNN – ‘I want to ride my bicycle!’ – an Italian street artist in paris

by Ludovica Giulianini on April 23, 2013

HOPNN street art Paris - bike art (1) Photo : Ludovica Giulianini

When walking around a city, very few people pay real attention to what’s hanging on the walls. Probably this is the ‘advertising effect’ – we’re overloaded with visuals wherever we walk. However, when what’s on the wall happens to be anti-automobile propaganda, such as a man eating a lipstick red car, one is forced to take notice.

The street artworks of Yuri (aka HOPNN – Yuri written in Cyrillic.), an Italian artist who recently moved to Paris, are composed of dreamy characters painted in white and red, featuring bikes as their core ‘sacred’ element.

HOPNN was inspired to focus on bicycles while living in Rome – if you have ever been there you will know it’s a city choked with traffic.

Underground Paris reporter, Ludovica Giulianini, caught up with HOPNN at the weekend as he painted a wall at rue Denoyez in Paris (75020), and reports back on his words, as follows, (after the photo of his bike and paint brushes!):

HOPNN street art Paris - bike art (4) Photo : Ludovica Giulianini

Photo: Ludovica Giulianini copyright 2013

“Growing up in a small village is not very easy,” Yuri says, “there’s not much to do. Graffiti was one of the few things kids were into, and that’s how I started – when I was fifteen.  Going from graffiti art to street art was for me a very natural transition, helped by my studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome.

“When I lived in my hometown, Chiaravalle (east-central Italy), I always used my bike to move around. When I first got to Rome I understood that biking would have been a challenge, if not an extreme sport. I loved participating in the critical mass events in Rome; I love the fact that during those events bikes, and not cars, are causing traffic.”

HOPNN street art Paris - bike art (3) Photo : Ludovica Giulianini

Photo: Ludovica Giulianini copyright 2013

HOPNN street art Paris - bike art (2) Photo : Ludovica Giulianini

Photo: Ludovica Giulianini copyright 2013

Yuri tells me that painting bikes became a sort of political message for him, even though he says, now, “the bike has become more of an abstraction in my thoughts: I use bikes to talk about other things, not only to push the message of biking more. Even though, one day, while I was painting, a stranger came up to me, as he recognised my work, and told me that he started biking more after having seen my posters around the city. To hear that was a great joy and a personal victory”.

HOPNN street art Paris - bike art (6)

 Photo source HOPNN.com

HOPNN street art Paris bike art (7) Photo: Demian Smith copyright 2013

Photo: Demian Smith copyright 2013

In Paris, he said, people pay more attention to pedestrians and bikers compared to Rome. He loves painting in Paris, there are legal walls he can spend time on and people don’t mind if you paste up posters. The only problem, he said, is that in Paris the recycle of works in the streets is very intense, and it’s very easy to be covered up by others. But that’s part of the fun, as long as he can keep painting.

HOPNN street art Paris bike art (5) Photo : Ludovica Giulianini

Photo: Ludovica Giulianini copyright 2013

HOPNN street art Paris - bike art (8)

  Photo source HOPNN.com

If you are in Paris and you want to meet Yuri, you can take art classes at the Académie des Beaux-Arts, where he works part-time as a figure model (he’s the static naked guy in the middle of the room, in case you wondered).

In the future, Yuri says that he would love to invent a pedal car (I’m guessing, like in the Flintstones!).

HOPNN street art Paris - bike art (9)

  Photo source HOPNN.com

HOPNN street art Paris - bike art (10)

  Photo source HOPNN.com

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Visit HOPNN’s website, here.

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Of course, our contributing editor, Fernanda Hinke, is also concerned with biking in Paris, but more in a journalistic capacity. You can read her journey of discovery at her blog, My Life on My Bike, here.

About the Author

Ludovica Giulianini holds an MA in Arts Management from the University of Bologna, and lives in between Paris and Rome. As well as having an in-depth knowledge on EU models for cultural mobility, and experience helping artists move around Africa to share, create and work together, Ludo is able, uncannily, to spot from whom street artists have stolen their ideas.

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