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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

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Jerry Batista on Facebook, here.

Jerry Batista on Instagram, here.

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Interview with Mathieu Tremblin

Mathieu Tremblin interview by street art paris dI4KLLTag Clouds “Rue Jules Ferry,” 2012, Arles

Originally from Le Mans, Mathieu Tremblin works in Strasbourg on multi-dimensional pieces that are sometimes subtly satirical and other times blatantly candid. With an approach to the city linked to sixties libertarian texts, Visual Studies, and French Theory, Mathieu Tremblin develops humorous and subtle artistic gestures, actions and interventions for an audience of passersby. In this interview Mathieu discusses the relationship between public ownership, the power of art and the urban context.

Mathieu Tremblin interview by street art paris 2015_globalcolorlocalmarket_marseille_mathieutremblin_img_0571Global Color, Local Market, 2015, Marseille

Mathieu Tremblin interview by street art paris 2010_OUVERT24H24_TOULOUSE_MATHIEUTREMBLIN_1007632 copyOuvert 24H/24 (OPEN 24 HOURS A DAY), 2010, Toulouse

How did you begin making urban interventions?

When I arrived in Rennes to study in 1998, I met a poet, Stéphane Bernard, who soon became the big brother I never had, and we shared a lot of thoughts on the society that we lived in. At that time, he was a very dark person because of having grown up in an average French city during the 80s, the type of city where there is nothing to do when you’re a teenager. I found myself in him, having myself lived in a small town as a teenager in the 90s. He introduced me to the Cold Wave, No Wave and industrial, electronic and experimental music with iconic figures like Alan Vega and Genesis P-Orridge. He introduced me to a number of American authors, such as, Bret Easton Ellis, Don DeLillo and Thomas Pynchon, as well as different theorists who had spared a radical critique of consumer and communication society, such as Guy Debord and his book, The Society of Spectacle.

Mathieu Tremblin interview by street art paris 2013_VANILLAURBANFURNITURE_DOCUMENTATION_TOULOUSE_MATHIEUTREMBLIN_IMG_6459 copyVanilla Urban Furniture, 2013, Toulouse

Mathieu Tremblin interview by street art paris 2016_streetartevaluation_documentation_lisboa_mathieutremblin_img_20160514_115029 Street Art Evaluation, “What is commissioned Street Art the name of?”, 2016, Lisbon

Debord’s approach is unique in that it does not summarize his criticism to a fight between classes, like other political philosophers have been doing before him, but he tackles economic relationships in the world it – what he calls Spectacle. Spectacle is a filter – representation – that keeps us away from ourselves and from others, that is taking us away from our experiences and our real desires and replacing those by the ones created by the consumer society that we can not access by proxy. From this analysis, he tried with his colleagues of the Lettrists then the Situationists in the sixties to implement methods that go beyond art, towards practices such as dérive or détournement that can permit you to live intensely and overcome the false relationship to the world that the society is building. These theories and operational concepts have greatly influenced my look at and my practice in the city, for example through the will that I share with other artists to produce forms that are already there, which are not recognizable as art . It’s a way to increase the life and transform our world, contributing to an urban imaginary that goes beyond appearances produced by consumer society.

Mathieu Tremblin interview by street art paris 0-zpesHypertag “Cli,” 2012, Arles

When I was a teenager, I refused to join the ideal promoted by the mass media and the consumer society. I felt agressed and oppressed by the system and I was looking for other reading grids. The art class I was following in high school gave me some answers with an introduction to the artistic avant-gardes of the twentieth century as Dada and Fluxus to whom art was making life more interesting than art itself. In 1996, I stopped watching TV with the discovery of the Internet. My father had installed a modem at home using the connection of the university where he worked. I discovered a horizontal network with HTML homemade websites and discussions with strangers living in Europe on IRC; I had access to a knowledge of the world without the filter of the mass media and it definitely changed my view on the relationship between art, culture and society at the same time.

Mathieu Tremblin interview by street art paris 2013_DROITDEGLANAGE_DOCUMENTATION_ARLES_MATHIEUTREMBLIN_IMG_7719 copyMathieu Tremblin interview by street art paris 2013_DROITDEGLANAGE_DOCUMENTATION_ARLES_MATHIEUTREMBLIN_IMG_7728 copyDroit de Glanage, 2013, Arles

Then I met TETAR, JIEM and MOOTON, who were doing graffiti and who were in my class. I did urban exploration with them – the industrial heritage in ruins fascinated me – and at one point I saw the pleasure they felt in doing graffiti and I got into it. This corresponded to a parallel path with my readings including La théorie de la dérive by the Situationists. The text discusses the idea of going out of your daily routine and find a way to make your life adventurous. Writing graffiti and especially tagging seemed a way to live an adventurous experience in the city; doing graffiti brings you to search spots to paint, so to discover new places and explore urban environment in a playful way regarding its architecture. By changing scale of practice and apprehending the material of various surfaces with your tools, you are gaining pragmatic and experimental unexpected perception of how the city works.

Mathieu Tremblin interview by street art paris 2011_FRUITSSKEWER_DOCUMENTATION_NIJMEGEN_MATHIEUTREMBLIN_DSC_3049 copy

Fruits Skewer, 2011, Nijmegen

When JIEM came back from Berlin in 2003, graffiti he had seen and photographed completely changed his reading of the urban landscape; now he had to focus on the walls that Berlin writers were investing with acrylic jars, rollers and telescopic poles. So we started to invest the giant walls of wasteland and abandoned factories in Rennes with rolls, changing of name all the time, until no longer we weren’t doing name writing at all and just write words and slogans. In 2006, we acted under the pseudonym of Poetic Roller during a few months and painted a couple of poetic phrases by night in dialogue with the atmosphere of the places. Then David Renault and I  founded the duo Les Frères Ripoulain and we painted slogans at a body scale during the day for two years dressed as house painters – without asking permission. We realized it was easier to intervene without authorization while legitimizing our approach in the dialogue with passerby, than doing it by night where our activities would ultimately looked suspicious, and the only exchange that we could get would be with the police or private security services that were just committed to ensure that nothing happens in the places they were responsible of. Then after we had painted the places on which we wanted to spread typographic frescoes about underground history, we changed once again of medium and method and since then adopted existing forms according to the urban situation we wanted to interact with, or depending of the influence we wanted to produce on the urban imaginary.

How do you develop your interventions?

I make sure that my practice is a pretext to live a new experience and conversely that every experience or observation in the city could lead to a gesture. I watch the rhythm of the city, the way people and signs interact and produce a kind of aesthetics in a cycle of appearance and disappearance. These forms are related to what is present and what is happening in the street. Sometimes they also refer to the history of art. When I work independently, this gesture correspond to an exercise of freedom, a sign that has an existence by and for itself; when I’m commissioned, I ensure that my intervention is likely to attract the attention of passersby whom it is addressed. But I work mostly without permission even if I am not looking for provocation… or legality. I try to act with maximum transparency and horizontality to dissolve the authority including the one of the author regarding his own gesture. While I’m inspired by anonymous graffiti found in the city that I consider as forms of interest, who would I be to claim that my act of painting on a wall will be greater or more relevant than the one that a citizen would have done without artistic intent? This is a balance between your personal wishes, the expression of your fellow citizens facing public and private governance of the city.

Mathieu Tremblin interview by street art paris 2016_liberteegalitesoldes_documentation_strasbourg_mathieutremblin_img_1832 Liberté Égalité Soldes, 2016, Strasbourg

Can you tell us about your relation to public/private ownership regarding the fact of doing art in the city?

For two decades now, successive French governments scuttled utilities and gradually municipalities allowed private companies the operational management of the city. The logical consequence of this fact is that the governance of the city has mutated from a horizon that was the common interest, to the profitability. And unfortunately, we cannot blame private companies to manage things in an ownership oriented way. Public transport became overpriced, whole portions of streets are managed as shopping malls, private security services are granted a power that only the police had previously… The citizen is increasingly considered and reduced to a consumer in the sense that it becomes difficult to practice the city in a financially disinterested manner. Public places – supposedly reminiscent of the figure of the agora in democracy – are mineralized and the rare street furniture are conceived so that it is uncomfortable, even impossible to occupy the public square. This creates paradoxical situations, such as the SNCF (French railway company which is now mostly private), which opens spaces which it owns and do an open-call without any budget for motivated artists, while the same company ensures that those who already invest those places without permission for years (free parties organizers and graffiti among others) can no longer practice it. While the Internet has allowed for the emergence citizens tremendous collaborative initiatives, horizontal and open to free sharing online, technocrats currently governing are vassals of corporate lobbies and tend to turn the city, our common living ground, into an area of ​​control and surveillance.

Mathieu Tremblin interview by street art paris 2011_ATRAPFORKINGS_ARLES_MATHIEUTREMBLIN_1101203 copyA Trap for Kings, 2011, Arles

Private ownership has become the cornerstone of our society and it alienates all desires and human relationships. The sharing relationship that seems to me  as close as an alternative type of relationship is the one you could develop with a work of art. His own is that the work cannot be exhausted after being consumed culturally. In a way, it’s escaping to planned obsolescence which is the essential condition for the capitalist economy to be wealthy. I’m not talking about the work of art as an object but as concept: on the contrary, works of art contain in themselves sensations and ideas – that belong to everybody – and a  power of transformation of imaginary – which everyone can experience – and that can not be reduced or enslaved by individual property. The interest is of my point of view the urban intervention holds that character otherwise immateriality, temporality. The destruction predictable near horizon – as dependent on the vagaries of the good / malicious passersby, of the rigor of cleaning service or of the urban renewal plans – gives it a form of intensity. What is rare is not the work as an artifact (as it was the case with the works of art in the modern period) but the fact of being able to experience a situation.

Mathieu Tremblin interview by street art paris 2012_TRACTS_PARIS_MATHIEUTREMBLIN_IMG_8137 copyTracts, 2012, Paris

What is the power of art to you?

An emancipatory principles of art could be described as an initiatory journey that always tends to put our comfort zones in crisis. Child, I was interested by Picasso for his deconstruction of the rules of representation, perspective or anatomy. Teenager, I went away from Picasso to focus on the hallucinatory world of Dali inspired by dreams and carried by the surrealist thought. Then adult, I detached myself from modern painting to go towards more conceptual and experimental approaches; I have kept Magritte’s univers whose graphic compositions by bonding or temporality of perspective are closer to an everyday poetic and is still inspiring me. A discovery of a field of art brings a gesture that brings you to question the certainties that have motivated that gesture. It’s the transformative power of art that matters. Discovering a work forces you to bend your mind and project yourself into the perception of someone else, in order to experience a new sensibility – in a way that it is otherness – with a horizon to achieve: to go beyond the definition art in order to return to life and to be intensely present to the world.

Mathieu Tremblin interview by street art paris 2014_PARKINGTICKETBOUQUET_MONTPELLIER_MATHIEUTREMBLIN_IMG_5248 copy

Mathieu Tremblin interview by street art paris 2014_PARKINGTICKETBOUQUET_MONTPELLIER_MATHIEUTREMBLIN_IMG_7858 copyParking Tickets Bouquet, 2014, Montpellier

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All images by Mathieu Tremblin

More informations about Mathieu Tremblin: Facebook  and website.

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Interview: May 2015.

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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.

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