A while back, I was lucky enough to go on a Street Art tour of London and listening to the knowledgeable guide really opened my eyes to a whole new world I hadn’t known about previously. A world of artists who express themselves through graffiti, stencils, prints, stickers, large-scale paintings and even street installations. Their art is often a means of expressing a political opinion, a message they want to send out to wake the population up to the truth as they see it.
That experience has stayed with me and now, every time I go abroad and visit a new town or city (or visit new places in the UK), I keep an eye out for any eye-catching art.
I’ve heard about Clet Abraham who adds humourous stickers to the Florentine road signs at night. Lorenzo Quinn who installed ‘Support’ – a pair of enormous human hands reaching out of the Grand Canal in Venice, propping up the historic hotel Ca’Sagredo Hotel and making a massive statement about global warming. I now visit a new town or city and look out for the artworks placed there when no one is around, in secret. Sadly it wasn’t there during our day trip in August.
I am hoping to organise a day trip to Paris. With a street art scene stretching back to the 1980’s, Paris has a wonderfully vibrant selection to offer. From Jef Aérosol, one of the first stencil artists who stencilled 350sqm next to the Pompidou Centre in 2011 and entitled his piece Chuuutt!!! (Shh!) to Jérôme Mesnager whose signature white figure ( a symbol of light, strength and peace) has been created in the Ménilmontant neighbourhood, interestingly it was Matisse’s painting, ‘La Danse’ that inspired him.
Following the theme of silhouettes, Nemo’s trademark is a black silhouette of a man wearing a trench coat and fedora. Nemo’s mural of a man on a bicycle can also be found in Menilmontant.
The 13th and 20th arrondissements and Montmartre and Abbesses are also great places to wander on the hunt for street art, Miss Tic has created a pin up-style woman with the words ‘To life, to love”. It is such an appreciated work of art that the city graffiti cleaners are asked to restore this piece rather than remove it.
Of course, not every artist needs graffiti supplies with them like spray cans and paints as artists like Alexandre Farto, known as Vhils, choose walls that have been painted or have certain textures and he strips them back using the various layers to sculpt faces on the wall.
I remember spotting one of Space Invader’s works on the London tour, a tiled mosaic of the pixelated video game Space Invader. Apparently, his first piece ever was in the French capital and also his thousandth in 2011.
Another artist I would like to find on my tour of Paris would be Gregos. I like his work so much, I follow him on Instagram. He makes plaster cast masks of faces and paints them before fixing them to walls all over the world.