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Interview with Jerry Batista

Jerry Batista painting - street art graffiti sao paulo brazil by street art paris IMG_2102 Jerry freehands a character onto the wall, with beading dividing the wall into two tones, for his ZAT residency installation.

Jerry Batista comes from Grajaú in São Paulo’s Zona Sul district and co-runs the A7MA gallery in the city’s Vila Madalena neighbourhood with a group of artists and screen printers whom he has grown up alongside in the city’s graffiti-street art and music scenes. Here is an interview with Jerry made in Grajaú, accompanied by images of a mural he has painted here in Paris’ main mural district, the 13th arrondissement at Nationale Metro station, in front of the first ever mural in Paris made by Shepard Fairey.

Jerry Batista classroom installation ZAT artist residency - street art graffiti sao paulo brazil by street art paris IMG_2446

Jerry Batista mural fresque paris mairie 13th arrondissement by street art paris Jerry Batista adds the base layer for his mural in Paris’ 13th arrondissement.

interview Jerry Batista in Grajau, Sao Paulo, Brazil, street art graffiti by street art parisThe artist takes us on a tour and explains the local Grajaú street art scene.

I’m thinking about… how did you learn… how do you see the difference between you when you were younger and you painted, and this new generation, is there a change of theme? How do you see this horizon which rises?

So…what is a bit different, it starts with the fact that we had teachers, yes but they were not graffiti teachers really, they were not teachers of this urban art… but we had great teachers, this new generation had the chance to have teachers, to speak a little about the experiences…

What I see different… The Grajaú itself has always been known as a figurative painting place but this new generation, they are still doing figurative painting but a bit more abstract, the language is no more that clear as it was in my time, there are more subliminal things, some messages that are not that clear, I think it’s good this happening cause it shows that if art is the fruit of a period, this new generation can’t paint the same things that I have painted, they are going to paint new things which belong to their time… there are the words that they use a lot…

Jerry Batista mural fresque paris mairie 13th arrondissement by street art paris

Is the use of words more common today?

They use more the words yes… singular words have always existed which express sometimes some moments, something, poetry is striking today among this new generation of painters, this thing also more… more vectorial, something which belongs to the modern language, of the internet. I think it’s good too.

And (—) sometimes it’s songs, sometimes it’s existential things, they do quite a lot these things sometimes subliminal, a bit abstract, and others times a bit more… but not that clear but more with some words that give a direction.

Jerry Batista classroom installation ZAT artist residency - street art graffiti sao paulo brazil by street art paris IMG_2447Installation by Jerry Batista for artistic residency ZAT in São Paulo organised by Tinho aka Walter Nomura.

Jerry Batista mural fresque paris mairie 13th arrondissement by street art paris

Jerry Batista painting - street art graffiti sao paulo brazil by street art paris cpt Juliana Maria CerquiaroDetail of an oil painting made onto an original Brazilian school desk for Jerry’s ZAT installation in São Paulo.

Jerry Batista oil painting sao paulo artist by street art paris Oil painting onto a rusted school locker panel.

Existential words such as?

They have several friends who do mistakes, losing people, this process of change, so these things affect them too, so they put these essential things, things from the internet. This is what is different, they represent a lot things from the internet but today they do quite a lot of messages, they use quite a lot this way of communication, so I think it’s important too.

How do they use internet?

They use their Instagram, Facebook to reach more people, not only people from the community. So they paint here but they are also preoccupied by the people from the Zona Norte, so it makes it spread more, they try also to have contacts with these people, through this way, so this is really good, they move from here too and go and paint in the centre of the city.

A thing I see which is striking is the latex thing, they use it quite a lot, because they have to, spray is very expensive and latex is a bit cheaper and you can fill big spaces, so most of the people in Grajaú always use latex with spray which is the old method of the graffiti school, exactly for this, because of a necessity, so it’s quite striking here in the city.

Jerry Batista eduardo srur - street art graffiti sao paulo brazil by street art paris Jerry Batista, and friends, including Brazilian conceptual artist, Eduoardo Srur.

You spoke about horizon but I didn’t understand…

You see the people, how they use… how they use the information they have to transform in…what today is more large. I think the artist’s evolution is linked with this opening, so you keep collecting things and processing it.

How do you see these artists, not only from the new generation, how can they take advantage of this bigger horizon?

I really like this new process, of internet… I think it’s good too the way of oral communication, the pictures, today you post a photo and someone I don’t know in England comments it and give you the possibility to exchange with her, sometimes they don’t speak the same language but they are discussing, so I think it’s really cool like this, to see people who identify themselves, not only Brazilians but from all around the world and this web, these contacts that we are collecting I think it’s really important for the modern world, not to stay stocked in one place.

I think the risk today of being an artist and dying in his neighbourhood, if you use internet, it’s really low… you go with this people who are going to like what you like and who will want follow you, the process of your work, it’s a bit that.

He’s speaking about the possibility today of absorbing this information which is produced (–) but will be reinterpreted here, the techniques, themes, how do you see that?

How do you feel this interpretation, of the local reality, you see works of others artists and everything… it goes through you and you continue your work, how do you see that?

This thing of influences, of the modern world, it makes you also reach others artists and people…

Among our school here, we have always been worried about this fact of copying the others, of seeing… to such an extent that our old school, which is formed by Tinho [Walter Nomura], these people they faced this problem you know, and then stories happened, people were criticising, so people focused on finding their own style you know.

I think these things were important but understand that you’re unique is the secret to develop a good art you know. Once people asked, a woman asked a photographer, “Oh man there are so many photographers today…” the guy began to take photos, everybody was telling him to not continue cause there were so many people already doing it. “What do you think about that,” the guy said, if you have a unique vision, if your point of view is special, everybody will want to see it cause people want to see the individuality, what each person has to offer. So people were worried about this here, to have something special and unique to transmit, but it’s obvious that references, influences are not forgotten too.

But yes to absorb this and use it almost like in a Chinese proverb, you use a saying to… to use an experience for something else you know, so absorbing this and knowing how to use it, in a different way, not copying it, to have an influence, a context, this is very important and I think it happens a lot here in Grajaú, people succeed to translate it very well, when a guy does a song, a rap, there is always the context of a vision, they only want to transmit a message from inside to outside or it comes from outside to inside so I think this is it, they receive something from outside and then they think “cool I liked it and now look at what we have here inside for you to see,” so it’s like an exchange.

Jerry Batista classroom installation ZAT artist residency - street art graffiti sao paulo brazil by street art paris IMG_2458Jerry Batista classroom installation ZAT artist residency - street art graffiti sao paulo brazil by street art paris IMG_2448   Jerry Batista classroom installation ZAT artist residency - street art graffiti sao paulo brazil by street art paris IMG_2513 Jerry Batista classroom installation ZAT artist residency - street art graffiti sao paulo brazil by street art paris IMG_3410

And about this context exactly, do you think this is what makes each one unique?

I think it’s the cohabitation of everyone, here the family is something very strong you know, it’s really important in everyone’s life, new generation don’t leave their parents like this, on the contrary.

Although, some don’t follow this you know, but I think this context, these difficulties, or this joy, which each family has, which each person has, it’s about transmitting something to the other, so I think this is very important, it’s almost like Brazilian Northeast literature, it’s a bit like this you know, people act like “Look in my street there is this, and this,” so people want to show “my family has this, and this” or “my family don’t have this, and this”. So this presence is very important, to want to transform, the young guy who wants to show a bit of his changes, his evolution, so I think it’s quite characteristic of each artist from this neighbourhood here.

Jerry Batista mural fresque paris mairie 13th arrondissement by street art paris


Jerry Batista on Facebook, here.

Jerry Batista on Instagram, here.

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Graffiti at Place de la République

Graffiti Place de la République Cafe de Monde et Média The Place de la République acts a focal point for the local and city-wide community, and visiting tourists, and is a popular place for skateboarders, musicians, and the homeless.

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.

graffiti Place de la République Alëxone, Hobz, Sowat, Nebay Work by Alëxone, Hobz, Sowat, Nebay on hoardings placed around the Cafe Monde et Médias, Place de la République.

What is the difference between graffiti and street art?

Graffiti and street art are two different worlds with strong connections. Many graffiti artists of my generation, including me, feel like they’re between these two worlds. To me, the main difference is that graffiti imposes itself, no matter what. It’s about freedom, about painting or writing something, and the, “I don’t care what you think if you’re not a writer, you can like it or not”. Street Art is more about proposing, questioning or seducing people. Graffiti writers paint with a competitive mindset. Street artists paint for people, the only competition for street artists is how many Likes they get on Facebook or Instagram. Although, certainly, this can be true for graffiti writers, too. I’m not trying to oppose graffiti and street art, I like both, and I hate both. The artists who have painted these walls are all from the ‘graffiti culture’.

Why do graffiti artists often feel the need to paint public and private property illegally?

Many artists on this wall at République still paint illegally, some of them still paint in a hardcore way [street bombing] others paint illegally, but nicely. Painting illegally guarantees the freedom to paint what you want, as opposed to commissioned walls where you have to paint what’s asked of you. Many of us have been painting for more than 20 years, and it’s about passion, so we don’t want to be told what to paint. In this case, the illegal way is still the best way, until someone asks you to paint a wall legally and guarantees you total freedom, but this rarely happens. Usually, when someone asks you to paint a wall, they have something to say to you about the piece you should paint.

graffiti Place de la République Je suis charlie Charlie HebdoPosters in support of Charlie Hebdo, and the cartoonists who were killed in the attacks, pasted onto the Statue de la République.graffiti Place de la République Katre, Lek, Nebay, Swiz, Sowat, AstroWork by Katre, Lek, Nebay, Swiz, Sowat, Astro.

Graffiti in Paris has traditionally been painted in the metro tunnels and wastelands, especially at Stalingrad (near République), but now it’s also being done with the support of institutions such as the Paris townhall, and private art galleries. Can you tell us a bit about this evolution.

Some Graffiti shows have been supported by institutions or private galleries since the beginning. Over the last decade the affiliation has gained strength, but for most graffiti writers it doesn’t change anything. For many writers, they just don’t care. Artists who are trying to do it as a career have to adapt themselves to a new world, the art world, with its own rules. Showing graffiti in a gallery setting has to be done in an intelligent way, not as something spectacular, nor just as a product. Writers who want to play this game have to think more about what they are doing, about the act of painting in the city, and finding new ways to show and explain that. If you’re only focused on your style, you’re not about the art ; you’re better off  finding a cheap gallery which is only trying to sell colourful canvases to stupid people without any knowledge of graffiti culture or art culture.

graffiti Place de la RépubliqueGraffiti on the Statue de la République.graffiti Place de la République Seth, Nebay, Kanos, Astro  Work by Seth, Nebay, Kanos, Astro.

Can you explain the link between the artists who have been invited to work on this project, and the system used for interlacing all the disparate works.

Katre and the Wallworks gallery are at the root of this project. They asked the FrenchKiss team (including Lek, Hobz, Liard, Swiz, Alëxone, Sowat and me) to paint the wall, bringing together different writers from different generations. The FrenchKiss collective is used to painting in the streets, illegally, mostly in an abstract way, freestyling, improvising; everyone mixes their work with the others. For this wall, we drew some shapes to give each writer their own space. Everyone did their own thing and then we all tried to mix our styles by interlacing our work. Finally, the result is not very “FrenchKiss”, rather a blend between different styles and a classic graffiti jam.

graffiti Place de la République liberte expression Since the Charlie Hebdo attack in January the statue has been used to display a spectrum of graffiti mainly relating to freedom of expression.graffiti Place de la République Legz, Sowat, Swiz, Lek Work by Legz The Spaghettist, Sowat, Swiz, Lek.

Why are you known as Legz The Spaghettist ? And can you tell us a little about your relationship to painting in the outdoors as opposed to on canvas ?

My work is focused on painting in abandoned places, so I don’t have much time to paint many canvases. My work is about connecting with architecture, being a part of the history of a place, a building or a factory just before its destruction, being a part of the life of the city, revealing the past through painting. So when I paint on a canvas, something is missing, it becomes focused just on style, like I said earlier in the interview.

graffiti Place de la République charlie hebdo graffiti Place de la République Arnaud Liard, Popay, Hoctez Work by Arnaud Liard, Popay, Hoctez.Je suis charlie graffiti Place de la République stencil pochoir “Je Suis Charlie stencil” on the Statue de la République.Place de la République graffiti Lek, Arnaud Liard, Sowat, Swiz, Nebay Cafe de Monde et Média  Work by Lek, Arnaud Liard, Sowat, Swiz, Nebay.

Cafe de Monde et Média graffiti Place de la République Underground Paris List of participating artists with work on the four walls surrounding the Café Monde et Médias.

Charlie Hebdo demonstration Place de la RépubliqueDemonstrations at Place de le République, following the Charlie Hebdo murders in January of this year.

To discover more on French graffiti and street art culture, we recommend reading Spraymium Magazine, edited by Nicolas Gzeley.

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Interview with Levalet

Levalet Street art Paris

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.

Levalet Street art ParisLevalet pastes up in Paris’ ancient Latin Quarter in the 5th Arrondissement.

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

I started painting on walls when I was thirteen or fourteen, in Guadeloupe, but it was more for fun and the for rush of adrenalin than for an artistic goal. When I was 17, I moved to Strasbourg, and there the walls are so clean and so historic that almost nobody wants to work on them, but I was working on video installations, and I was able to experiment with projections in urban places. But it was when I arrived in Paris in 2012 that I truly started to work as a street artist, inspired by the architecture and this feeling of freedom you can feel in the capital here.

What prompts you to paint work in the street?

The street is a place where I can work freely, I don’t have financial or time pressures. And this is mostly about besieging public places, everyday places, and being able to put up work that creates a dialogue with the real world. I like the idea of trying to combine several realities, using the world as a medium, and as a guide for representation, positioning the artistic image, in a place that was not meant for it in the first place.

How important is the architecture to your work? 

Topography is very important for me, this is why I always check a place out before I work on it. I try to mix the world of representation with the real world by playing on the physical cohesion of the situations I put up. Architecture supports my work. Then I work on staging the artwork with photographs. Photography allows me to play with the point of view and to intensify the “window-dressing” dimension of my work. Photography also allows me to create a dramatisation within the dramatisation by a including passer-by or other elements.

Tell us a little about your artistic background and how and why you got into street art? 

I started studying plastic arts when I was 17 and tried different media, paint, photography, video, sculpture, and today I am an art teacher, but as I said earlier, I have numerous influences and for example, acting influenced my work a lot. We can say that I came to street art more by transposing an installation practice than by a “classical” way, such as starting with graffiti and later getting involving graphic design.

Levalet Street art Paris An onlooker enjoys Levalet’s street art performance which even the police tend not to mind, he says.Levalet Street art Paris Levalet Street art Paris  Levalet tirelessly brushes out air bubbles and wrinkles from his pasted paper artwork.

You live in 13th Arrondissement, what do you like about putting work up locally?

I sometimes work in my neighbourhood, not often but regularly. I sometimes like being able to follow a work’s life, how it is transformed, how other artists can change it or destroy it. It is also more convenient for me as it is the only neighbourhood in Paris where I can put up my works legally without having them cleaned off, thanks to the town hall and its policy of including urban arts in the neighbourhood’s identity.

What factors do you consider when deciding on a location?

I’m relatively attentive to places whenever I’m outside, and when chance puts me in front of an interesting place, I take a picture and I measure it. Everything is potentially interesting, a spot on a concrete bloc, a crack, a recess, a piece of urban furniture. Whether I use a place I spotted or not depends on the projects I create day-by-day. There are some places I’ve spotted that will probably never be used, and sometimes one year can pass between the moment I spotted a place (I write it in my notebook) and the moment I use it. When I willingly look for a place, meaning when I walk by neighbourhoods only for that purpose, I first go to the small alleys, the hidden places, the unusual neighbourhood, and I avoid the big boulevards.

Levalet Street art Paris Levalet Street art Paris

Can you describe a route you’ve taken in the past, or an everyday route, and describe the details.

I think what I like most is walking by the different rivers in Paris, “les quais de Seine”, “canal Saint Martin”, “Canal de l’Ourcq”. Rivers always offer architecture and spaces that seem completely different from a big city such as Paris. I like these places because they inspire surrealist ideas in me easily. Being close to a river, in one way, gives me the illusion that I am still connected with the rest of the world.

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

Two months ago, I put up a sketch on La Comédie Française. There were ten policemen twenty metres away. They did not see me that time, but every time I’ve been caught, I’ve always been let off, and sometimes they’re amused. I can’t complain. I don’t really feel the police as a challenge. A bigger challenge is for me to start a project in which I try new things, because before the end, I am never one hundred per cent certain of the result. Half of the time I need to change my projects because I realise that, for example, the sketch is too big for the wall or an object can’t be fixed with nails.

What are your plans for 2015?

I have a few group exhibitions planned in Paris, an exhibition and two festivals in Italy and mostly I want to do unpredictable things. I have a few indoors installation projects planned, but for now nothing is really decided.

Levalet Street art Paris Detail from Levalet’s latest scene in the Latin Quarter.

Photos of Levalet’s previous installations:Levalet Paris15 minutes of fame. Photo by Charles Levalet, 2014.Levalet Paris Rhizomes exhibition, Home street home, Montpellier. Photo by Charles Levalet, 2014.Levalet Street art ParisIconoclasme. Photo by Charles Levalet, 2013. Levalet Street art ParisLa machine infernale. Photo by Charles Levalet, 2014.

Levalet Street art ParisUne bouffée d’air frais. Photo by Charles Levalet, 2013.

Levalet Street art Paris   Comédie française. Photo by Charles Levalet, 2014.

Levalet Street art ParisEnvolée sauvage. Photo by Charles Levalet, 2014.


Visit Levalet’s Facebook page, here.

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Jorge Pomar paints at Le MUR

Jorge Pomar art exhibition Paris street art graffiti interview Le MUR OberkampfJorge Pomar uses naive imagery to bring attention to harder issues such as capitalism and the arms trade.

Interview by Jess Zimmerman

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 set aside by the city council for the purpose of promoting urban art, his latest painting is child-like and colourful, but actually serves as a vehicle for a much darker message. 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.

Jorge Pomar art exhibition Paris street art graffiti interview Le MUR Oberkampf

Jorge Pomar art exhibition Paris street art graffiti interview Le MUR OberkampfJorge Pomar is commissioned to paint at the renowned Le M.U.R. space in Paris’ vibrant Oberkampf district in the 11th Arrondissement.

Jorge Pomar art exhibition Paris street art graffiti interview Le MUR OberkampfJorge Pomar painting at Le M.U.R. (detail)

Interview by Jessica Zimmerman:

How did you get started in the world of street art and graffiti?

What motivated me was how easy it is to say things in the street, how simple it is to connect with others. The common space that we all share is the best space to work in. When you want to say something the best way to go about it is to make it in the street, like advertisements.

Jorge Pomar Catálogo de armas Buenos Aires street art graffiti interview Le MUR Oberkampf (4)Catálogo de armas, AMOR, Buenos Aires, 2014.

Is your work put up purposefully to reach people? To convey a specific message?

Yes, these days I often find myself wondering about conveying a message, but the question is what exactly. Should it be something positive? Should it be about change? Or do I just want to draw? I think I’m in between both, because I like both. Maybe it depends on the place and context, as well as the people who are going to see the piece.

My very recent work is all about guns and the business of guns. Nations like France for example produce cars, wine, cheese and guns. It’s another part of the business; they sell guns to every country in the world to kill their people. I can’t find the sense in that. And I definitely don’t like it.

So are you taking a distinct stance on that?

Yes sure, but I don’t know if commenting on it is going to change anything. There’s a chance that by just expressing something about it, or even by just straight up denouncing it, it might change something, but I’m not sure.

In a broader sense, would you say you have one message or one philosophy behind your work?

When I started painting, I started off doing graffiti like everybody else, by which I mean just going tagging. That scene is all about the street aspect, about creating a name. After a couple of months, I realised that there was absolutely no sense in just saying my name, just saying hello. There is no point in just saying, “Jorge Jorge Jorge”, over and over again. I decided I wanted to say something more transcendental, so that’s how I started writing the word Amor, which means love, and which began to open a lot of doors for me. Maybe it’s a little bit ‘cursie’ – a very special word in Spanish – its means lovely, but in a stupid way. Kind of sickly sweet, tacky, or cheesy, but sometimes I just feel like that. Other times I feel that there is a heavier responsibility in writing that name, but I’m comfortable with it. I think it’s important to express whatever you want to say in the street, and if it happens to be positive, then great.

Amor street art Buenos Aires graffiti artist interviewBuenos Aires, 2014.

So now under the name AMOR, you’re painting guns?

Yes, and that’s a big contrast isn’t it? A big difference, but I don’t have any problem with that, because it’s all part of the same language in some way. Guns come from hate and hate is the opposite of love, so I actually feel that it’s very normal. But I see the potential disparity, this guy is painting “LOVE LOVE LOVE”, and it’s not about loving the guns, it’s just the opposite, but I like that contrast.

In my most recent work there are a few specific characters that have evolved around this theme. They are all very innocent and naive animals: bears, lions, all done in pastel colours to give a jardin d’enfantskind of feel. Except of course that they are carrying guns. There is no way an animal can carry a gun, especially not an innocent animal, so I like to use it to create a strange sort of sensibility, an odd little image to make you think about the use of these guns.

León con botas street art Buenos Aires graffiti artist interview“León con botas”, Curuzú Cuatiá, Provincia de Corrientes, Argentina, 2014.Gato con botas street art Buenos Aires graffiti artist interview“Gato con botas”, Argentina, 2014.

I’m glad you brought up the animals, I wanted to ask you about the imagery you use. It ranges from animals, to figurative to more abstract stuff.

This entire year, I’ve been trying to formulate a clear line or statement about the aesthetics of my work. I just try to use these animals, abstractions, geometric shapes, cities, plants, and organic elements to open as many doors as possible. When I’m in front of a new mural I just paint what I feel in the moment, but sometimes it’s better to have a clear line to follow. I think I’m at that moment where I need to locate that line and respect it for a couple of months at least to make a series of works and be more responsible to one subject.

Is there a specific symbolic value behind the images you choose?

Yes sure, of course, actually. It also depends on where and why I’m painting. For instance if I’m working on a commission, I’m not going to paint animals with guns, I’m going to choose something funnier and more innocent, like plants. Everyone loves plants. They can pay me and okay great, bye bye, I’m off. If I’m working on an abandoned wall then I’ll do whatever I’m feeling in the moment. And now it’s animals. Animals with guns.

Clearly context is super important for you.

Sometimes when I do graffiti, just graffiti, I don’t worry too much about the context. It’s just about having fun and marking a territory; about a symbolic presence. It can also be like a logo or a brand, and within that specific context I can utilise the same aesthetic, but it’s always just going to be graffiti, that kind of fun.

You have this whole outdoor practice that is so evolved and so elaborate, and then you have all the work you do on paper, do you see those as two separate practices? Do they inform each other in any way?

I feel that there is a big difference. Again all the subjects are related in some way, but paper is in it’s own sense a separate subject, where I can paint abstract or get into typography, or even start drawing cars from the ’80’s. Maybe there is no sense to it, but a lot of people see connections between my outdoor and indoor work. I don’t see it yet, but I’m essentially trying to make a whole globe out of my stuff.

So it’s a kind of little mini world you’re creating?

Exactly, like a personal one, with a lot of elements, very different, but all within the same world.

Would it be fair to say that between your works on paper and in the street you are creating a personal universe?

That’s exactly it, all the elements, wherever and however they are made, exist in the same reality.

Marfa, Plumas & Amor street art Buenos Aires graffiti artist interview“Marfa”, Plumas & Amor, Buenos Aires, 2013.

Alright, now a totally different question: who inspires you?

There are a lot of artists of course, my friends from Argentina, my crew members, garbage on the street, PixaçaoJoan MiróHorphée, a lot of writers from France.

Children’s books also play a huge role in my work. I love the childlike imagination in all the imagery. Specifically I think the book Moon Man by Tomi Ungerer, the French illustrator, is amazing.

I also look towards Heráldica, which is the study of medieval shields. I’m actually really interested in the middles ages when all families used to have their own shields designed with specific symbolic elements. I find it fascinating, and so mysterious. It was a dark moment in time, all the castles and mystics.

Patricio, 19 pájaros y Mu street art exhibition Buenos Aires graffiti artist interview Underground Paris“Patricio, 19 pájaros y Mukenio”, Plumas & Amor, Buenos Aires, 2014.Amor & Plumas street art Wynwood Walls graffiti artist interviewPlumas & Amor, Wynwood, Miami, 2013.

Can you talk to us a little bit about your publications? There are three separate books, how are they different?

The first was made with my friend Nadia Patrian at Jellyfish, its a publication about magic and mysticism. She selected twenty artists from Argentina, the US and Europe whose work deals with the subject, and from there made a nice big book, very colourful and published in hardcover. I really love the work she did. The second book is a collection of pictures I made with a few friends while taking a photography course led by the Argentinian photographer Guillermo Ueno. The book has no text at all, its just images.

The last book I made with P. Vector Codierer, a very good friend from Berlin who lived in Argentina for some months. He’s a writer, a very good writer. He’s done a lot of work in Germany and Argentina with a very special style, he’s really a very delirious guy, so we decided to make a book about a large mosque in Argentina. We started to develop a concert about Arabic graffiti based on the idea that graffiti is something occidental that comes from the Greek alphabet. You can read it from left to right, but in Arabic you read right to left, and with the lettering, you can’t read it unless you speak the language. We found that difference interesting and decided to physically ground the concept around the mosque.

Jorge Pomar art exhibition Paris street art graffiti interview Le MUR Oberkampf Buenos Aires street artist (28)Jorge Pomar art exhibition Paris street art graffiti interview Le MUR Oberkampf Buenos Aires street artist (25)‘Orientalist’ graffiti zine produced with Berlin-based artist, P. Vector Codierer.

And was it well received? What was the public reaction? 

It was very well received, people were really intrigued by the unfamiliar and it turned into a very strange book indeed. We only made fifty copies of it, so just a few people actually own it. We also made a large presentation to launch it, which was very well attended. People were curious because it was something very delirious, but very serious at the same time. We approached it like a weird job. Its amazing how in the span of a couple of months you can go from having an idea in your head to having the realised version in your hand.

What is the main difference in producing content or work for a book as opposed to the street? 

The main factor is time. Making a book can take a year, maybe more. Creating a mural takes one or two days, maybe a couple of hours, even. Being outside painting is an immediate experience; it’s about living in the moment, while the book is a much slower process.

The idea of making a book of only images also sometimes struck me as odd; it doesn’t always make a lot of sense. I like to write, so I think the dialogue between the text and images, if it’s well done, can be really interesting. Maybe next, I’ll make a mural about these texts with an image added onto the side.

Jorge Pomar art exhibition Paris street art graffiti interview Le MUR Oberkampf Buenos Aires street artist (25)“Where Da Track At”, AMOR.SAMOR street art exhibition Buenos Aires graffiti artist interview Underground Paris“SaMoR”, AMOR and SAM, 2011. SAMOR street art exhibition Buenos Aires graffiti artist interview Underground Paris AMOR Buenos Aires graffiti artist interview

What is your favourite city to work in?

Buenos Aires, because it’s my city and I know it very well. I know where to go, at what time, and how to move. That’s maybe even more important than where to go; it’s all about how to move. Attitude is probably the most important thing in this street world. Buenos Aires is a very relaxed city in that way, there are lots of people who happily receive graffiti and street art, unlike other parts of the world where rules are so strictly imposed.

So you are less afraid of repercussion and getting caught in Buenos Aires?

Nowadays, I’m actually less afraid of getting caught anywhere. Maybe in the US I still feel nervous, just because its rules are so strict. You can easily have a very bad experience. In Buenos Aires is so simple, you can talk to the police like a human being. You can explain what you’re doing. In the US I don’t think you can talk to a police officer because of this stance they have on authority. I understand it, because that’s the kind of society they want, and that’s how they work. I don’t know if it’s good or bad, but talking is the best way of communicating, if you can make it happen of course.

Orbita antigua de la luna Amor street art Buenos Aires graffiti artist interviewOrbita antigua de la luna (Old orbit of the moon)”, Buenos Aires, 2014.Naive graffiti street art Brazil by Buenos Aires graffiti artist interview “A verdadeira fortaleza se encontra dentro de nos”, Festival “Concreto”, Fortaleza, Brasil, 2013.

So how would you compare working in Paris to Buenos Aires?

There are a lot of painters here, I think people are maybe getting sick of it? Maybe not sick exactly, but there are so many urban artists that have had such a strong presence here since the 90’s. In Buenos Aires, it’s something newer, so with that freshness you can do whatever you want… well maybe not whatever, but almost. Here, I don’t know, its just a different feel. Maybe you need to ask more, seek permission more often before painting. There are so many rules, and different rules than I’m used to. More bureaucratic I think. Well like in every city, bureaucracy is present everywhere, especially in the kind of movement we are talking about, the painting of public and private space.

I was talking about this yesterday in Atlanta while attending this festival, Living Walls. It was well attended by many artists from around the world, really great artists who go there to paint huge murals. I painted while I was there, but didn’t participate directly. A lot of people like it, but then again a lot don’t. They see it as something very invasive, an encroachment of on the visual panorama. Personally I think that’s stupid because they complain about someone who is just painting a wall and it’s just paint. Maybe right beside the wall, on the corner, there’s a homeless guy, or maybe ten homeless guys asking for money to eat, or to feed their kids, but people just see the paint. They don’t see the poverty, they don’t see the people.

That’s one thing that’s very common now in Buenos Aires, these rich old ladies complain so much when I’m painting in the street, they often call the police. Then the police come and I explain that I have permission and then they immediately leave me be. But the old ladies keep complaining. I just want to say, hey come on man, it’s just paint. Don’t worry about it. Worry about your stuff, your life. Or if you want to complain, use that energy to go buy some rice for that guy who is dying in the street. I think the same situation is happening in every city. I think we are very ignorant, sometimes, very stupid.

So you want to wake people up a little bit?

I honestly don’t know if that’s possible, but I do want to shake them a little bit, if I can. To wake up is very difficult, even I can’t wake up, it’s tough to wake up about certain things. !

So you think we all have a little waking up to do? 

Sure, that’s very sure. I was thinking about all this stuff when I was getting here … the world is really fucked up in a way. I was wondering while on the plane for example, where are all these people going after the airport? Where is all the garbage from this plane going? I mean someone gave me three plastic glasses of water, I just need one, not three. They were throwing away all this shit in a bag. I was wondering how many planes will fly in one day, and how much garbage they will throw away, how many dollars they owe to these companies, I don’t know, we are in a very special moment here in the twenty-first century. War is still here, poverty is still here, difference in still there… individuality, materialism… what’s happening with all these aspects to society? Sometimes I feel worried about it, but then I just forget.

Forget out of pessimism or optimism? 

Sometimes I don’t know if it’s good to forget. Sometimes it’s cool, because you can’t live with that weight, all those thoughts I’m thinking now. That’s when I think I prefer to go to sleep and not to wake up. Maybe I need it, like everybody, unless you are Gandi or Mother Theresa or somebody like that.

So do you think we’re headed towards total implosion and eventually we’re really gonna screw this shit up, or we’ll suddenly realise “hey, we need to make some changes fast”? And then maybe we’ll see a shift for the better?

Well I think about that all the time. I don’t know how it’s going to develop. I think it’s likely it will go in the same w, more consumption, more ignorance. And all for the masses. Maybe some people, artists, pacifists, and specific groups of politicos will start to change a little bit, but I think that the outrage of the people will continue on the same path. I don’t know, I’m just looking at the way we are evolving as a human race. I guess time will tell.

Yes, it’s always like that, time will tell. Time is very sage, very knowing, very wise.

While you are in Paris, are you hoping to get any work done?

Yes, I came here first of all to do Le M.U.R.. Before arriving I contacted a lot of Parisian writers, like Sonic. There are a lot of walls I want to make. In fact, I want to make one wall a day. That’s how it has to be this trip, I’m not here to be a tourist. Not this time, it’s all about work.

Proyecto Tenis, Gomo & Blem & Amor street art exhibition Buenos Aires graffiti artist interview Underground Paris“Proyecto Tenis”, Gomo & Blem & Amor, Buenos Aires, 2010.  Creo & Amor, Buenos Aires street art exhibition graffiti artist interview Underground Paris Creo + Amor, Buenos Aires, 2012.               Amor, Buenos Aires interview “Pixoamor”, AMOR rooftop graffiti in Buenos Aires.


Visit Jorge Pomar’s website. here.

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Lek & Sowat’s Mausolée film launch

Mausolee Paris exhibition presented by Sowat and Lek of the Da Mental Vaporz crew Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian SmithMausolee Paris exhibition presented by Sowat and Lek of the Da Mental Vaporz crew Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian Smith

In August 2010 Sowat & Lek, from France’s DMV crew organised forty French artists to paint out the inside of an abandoned 430,000 square foot supermarket in North Paris. For a year, an illegal artistic residency took place, documented by photo and film and by collecting detritus from the huge squatted complex which has been brought together in this new exhibition in Paris’ 13th arrondissement.

Lek & Sowat tell us that what remains of the site close to Parc de Villette is “a temple dedicated to a disappearing underground culture, slowly being replaced by street art and its global pop aesthetics”.

The project includes work by the following artists:

Apotre, Bims, Blo, Bom.k, Boyane, Brusk, Butterfly, Clickclacker, Dem189, Domone, Fleo, Gilbert1, Gris1, Hobz, Honda, Jayone, Jaw, J.P, Kan, Katre, Keboy, Lek, Manyak, Monsieur Qui, O’Clock, Omick, Onde, Outside, Paum/Sarin, Rems, Res, Romi, R. Skyronka, Sambre, Seth, Shook, Siao, Skio, Smo, Sowat, Spei, Swiz, Tcheko, Thias, and Wxyz

An installation inspired by and made using materials from the site of the “Mausoleum” is now open to view by the public, and the accompanying book, can be bought online, here.

The project is essentially the brainchild of artist Sowat. He was assisted by Lek, and the video was edited by Kan.

Other similar projects include the Underbelly Project and Ghostvillage Project.

Picture found at the North Paris site and framed as part of the exhibition

Mausolee Paris exhibition presented by Sowat and Lek of the Da Mental Vaporz crew Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian Smith

Mausolee Paris exhibition presented by Sowat and Lek of the Da Mental Vaporz crew Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian SmithMausolee Paris exhibition presented by Sowat and Lek of the Da Mental Vaporz crew Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian SmithMausolee Paris exhibition presented by Sowat and Lek of the Da Mental Vaporz crew Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian SmithMausolee Paris exhibition presented by Sowat and Lek of the Da Mental Vaporz crew Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian SmithMausolee Paris exhibition presented by Sowat and Lek of the Da Mental Vaporz crew Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian SmithMausolee Paris exhibition presented by Sowat and Lek of the Da Mental Vaporz crew Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian SmithMausolee Paris exhibition presented by Sowat and Lek of the Da Mental Vaporz crew Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian SmithMausolee Paris exhibition presented by Sowat and Lek of the Da Mental Vaporz crew Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian SmithMausolee Paris exhibition presented by Sowat and Lek of the Da Mental Vaporz crew Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian Smith

The show finishes on 14 April and is from 3.00 pm to 8pm, at the following address:

11 rue Marie-Andrée Lagroua-Weil-Halle (enter by the front gate of a residential apartment complex, and enter through the first door on your left),

Paris 75013

Métro/Rer: Bibliothèque François Mitterrand


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Interview with graffiti collective OnOff

Interview street art graffiti paris LIMO-ONOFFCREW-2

LIMO - ON OFF CREW Paris Street Art Photo: copyright OnOff

Tell us about your artistic backgrounds.

The OnOff Crew is a group of people, friends that have evolved in different creative areas: design, architecture, graphic design, photography, drawing – we are all working in these kinds of sectors as designers. Our time at university studying art gave us references, practices, cultures, and it also opened our mind in our graffiti art.

We’ve been a crew for three years, based in Paris. Each member comes from a different city and department in France.  Paris reunification has enabled our focus and motivation to grow. We created the crew in Reims where the graffiti scene was not very big but we had some great meetings. The province offered us great blank spaces unlike Paris. What we value most in Paris, however, is the multitudes of styles, people, crews, meetings, events. There is a large emulsion in Paris, and it moves all the time. New pieces appear every day. This is a gold mine for the eyes.

LIMO - ON OFF CREW Paris Street Art Photo: copyright OnOff

LIMO - ON OFF CREW Paris Street Art Photo: copyright OnOff crew

LIMO - ON OFF CREW Paris Street Art Photo: copyright OnOff crew

LIMO - ON OFF CREW Paris Street Art Photo: copyright OnOff crew

LIMO - ON OFF CREW Paris Street Art Photo: copyright OnOff crew

LIMO - ON OFF CREW Paris Street Art Photo: copyright OnOff crew

LIMO - ON OFF CREW Paris Street Art Photo: copyright OnOff crew

Do you have favourite spots for making artwork outdoors?

A couple of months ago we were painting on that wall of fame on Rue des Pyrénées. During three or four years, every Parisian crew has made their own piece there. Every weekend it was a special moment with new meetings, new connections, festivals, photography. For us, it was the best place in Paris, not only for graffiti artists, but for families and people with kids to appreciate, to come and enjoy colours in the street. Now it’s dead. RIP that wall.

We don’t think there is a ‘best place’ for street art in Paris because each person can make a place as a unique and special as he likes for himself – all of Paris is a street art map.

LIMO - ON OFF CREW Paris Street Art Photo: copyright OnOff crew

LIMO - ON OFF CREW Paris Street Art Photo: copyright OnOff crew

LIMO - ON OFF CREW Paris Street Art Photo: copyright OnOff crew

Do you prefer to paint certain places over others?

On the end of the week we are thinking where to paint. Mostly we go to walls that are free to paint. We like to make meetings with others crews. Where we were in Reims we liked to find some empty places, with texture, architecture, special ambiances, factories, abandoned houses. We prefer this context to walls in the street. It makes us paint more expressively and sensitively because we make some link between the space and our paint.

LIMO - ON OFF CREW Paris Street Art Photo: copyright OnOff crew

What other surfaces do you like painting on and what has been the most unusual?

We really like big and high walls outside. Sometimes we work on other surfaces to give to our production new directions: paper, cardboard, canvas, stickers, packaging, bar toilets, people. We make some unusual productions like shoes, boats, clothes, skateboards. There is not a perfect surface as every surface is a new challenge and it makes our experiences more rich and special.

The collective includes graphic designers, video editors, illustrators. How do these techniques feed the work you put up outdoors?

We try to influence our street art by these techniques. For example, we like to put design references in our painting. We enjoy creating links between old references and contemporary practice and visual render. Sometimes we work on infography, folding, to prepare an intervention. We also think we can find reference and ideas in every domain (cinema, theatre, products, publicity, optics) to make our paintings more specific and closed to our ways of work and lives.

LIMO - ON OFF CREW Paris Street Art Photo: copyright OnOff crew

LIMO - ON OFF CREW Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian Smith

LIMO - ON OFF CREW Paris Street Art Photo: copyright 2012 Demian Smith

Your recent exhibition at Le Friche gallery in the Paris neighbourhood, Belleville, included an unusual and intricate installation. Can you tell us a little bit about the show.

It’s been a while that we have been questioning the concept of volume in our 2D pieces. The idea at this moment was to introduce depth in the wall by experimenting with the 3D effect of bi-coloured blue and red glasses as an optic graffiti. When Photo Graff Collectif (PGC) & Frichez-Nous la Paix gallery asked us to intervene in their space, we found that it could be a good occasion to push our 3D volume reflexion further. So we be began to think of a unique installation that would fit only in this space for the exhibition. This space had to be the representation of our walls atmosphere in three dimensions. By this way, the spectators were totally emerged in the heart of our world, a surreal and highly coloured world, which was given highlights to have more impact.

Our product design experience at school helped us to make the main idea in volume more concrete, in association with our friends Club 300. We work five days and five nights in a real workshop atmosphere. The whole installation was composed by green and coloured cones, white rabbits, little houses and that black character. The OnOff Black man named “Colonel Prols” landed it this world by chance (as the spectator), and he is surrounded by a world of strange activity, so the name “Enter the Wall” was an evidence for us.

What is the importance of street art do you think?

For us, street art (or street activism) is a way of life. Our eyes and brain are always careful to space, ideas, logotype, advertising, interaction between people and street areas. Our practice gives us the occasion to express ourselves with a huge liberty. Street art is also a medium that helps us to catch people’s attention in their everyday life, no matter the way we do it : graffiti, stickers, drawing, installation, posters.

Do you have any plans for 2012?

Pleasure, laughing, ideas, new concepts, painting, travelling with my homies: Limo, Jok, Olson,  Kanos.


OnOff give a special thanks to Club 300, Rachel, Louise, Simon, Lucie, Juliette, Arnaud, Jeremy, Margaux, Neoar, and PGC and Frichez Nous La Paix Gallery.