About Demian Smith

starts out painting graffiti in the late ‘90s around Swiss Cottage in London, and ends up writing gossip journalism for the Daily Telegraph. Arrived in Paris in 2012 to establish Underground Paris.

Sten & Lex hit Le M.U.R. with a stencil poster

Sten-Lex-Le-MUR-Paris-11e-Arrondissement-Paris street art - Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian-Smith

Sten & Lex, the Roman street art duo, were in Paris this weekend accepting the invitation offered to them to make Le M.U.R., the Parisian art project which revolves around a three by eight metre billboard set aside by the city council for the purpose of promoting street art. Continue reading

Shepard Fairey in Paris documentary “Street Art x Fashion”

Shepard Fairey documentary in Paris ”Street Art x Fashion”

Filmed & edited by 

Maria Fernanda Hinke Schweichler

Cécile Ney

Demian Smith

Music by

Pali Meursault

————

Background to Shepard Fairey documentary:

(by cultural journalist, Maria Fernanda Schweichler – MyLifeonMyBike.com)

Last Thursday Demian Smith & myself had the opportunity to interview one of the most famous street artists in the world: Shepard Fairey aka Obey. It’s a tremendous responsibility to interview an artist like him, who is also involved in business and politics. But yes, working as a journalist of street art I believe that when we have pure intentions and our goal is to absorb what the artist has to show in a positive way, we always get the right dots to connect.

Shepard Fairey is the brains behind the Obey Giant campaign, and also the Barack Obama Hope poster, which went viral during Obama’s first presidential election campaign. Shepard came to Paris to launch a collection for Levi’s at its flagship store on the Champs-Élysées and also to create a huge wall in the Thirteenth Arrondissement of Paris.

During the interview with Shepard Fairey we talked about his relationship with the fashion world, the project with Levi’s, all the charity programs that he is involved with and the help he gives to several institutions, and also about how he feels nowadays after being responsible for influencing so many people to vote for Barack Obama with the poster, Hope.

It’s hard to deny that Shepard Fairey is a mix of artist, politician and businessman. Talking with him and hearing his strong voice and well articulated answers I realised that he has a strong power to make a difference and to be a great example. It was really beautiful to hear how he is concerned about using his own profit to help others and the environment by collaborating with non–profit organisations such as Occupy Wall StreetSurfrider Fundation and many others.

When the interview with Shepard Fairey had finished, in an informal way I asked him if he was planning to paint something in Paris, and so we had the information first-hand of the address of the wall that he was going to paint (which was kept secret for the first two days of work). The wall was painted over three long days, and we were there following step by step his work in progress, which you can see in the video and in our previous post.

On the third day (Sunday 18th June)  the street art gallery responsible for the  project, Galerie Itinerrance, invited the media, fans and people involved with street art to make a conference on the residential building  that he was painting. As a super-star Shepard Fairey was there posing for pictures and giving autographs with patience, even with a lot of work to do before finally finishing the black and red, and involved and beautiful painting.

Between Thursday and Sunday, My life on My Bike and Demian Smith recorded different moments and perspectives of Shepard Fairey’s stay in Paris to produce a video that you can watch now in the video above and discover more about Shepard Fairey’s positive ideas and his performance in Paris.

Jace paints Le M.U.R. criticising the street art market

French street artist Jace has been given reign over Le M.U.R., the  project revolving around a three by eight metre billboard, set aside by the Marie de Paris for the purpose of promoting urban art.

The artist has been doing graffiti since 1989 and is famous for painting his character, Gouzou, which can be found all around the tropical island, French protectorate, Réunion Island.

Jace’s Gouzou are often placed in absurd, funny situations and you will find them all over the world including in Madagascar, Mauritius, and Bali, and now on Le Mur, at 105 rue Oberkampf, on the corner of rue Saint-Maur in the 11th Arrondissement.

The character was recently copied by a large Chinese brand to promote its products. Luckily, and, perhaps, amazingly, the Chinese courts ruled in favour of Jace, and is now a  jurisprudence case for author’s rights in China.

Jace and his Gouzou can be seen in the streets of Paris if you look carefully. If you are unable to search the streets in search of them, however, you could just go and visit an indoors exhibition of his work which opens this Saturday at Galerie Mathgoth:

Jace, 20 Piges at Galerie Mathgoth

Opening in the presence of the artist on Saturday, June 9th at 6pm.

The show will be open to the public Tuesday to Saturday, 2 – 7pm, until June 21st.

103, rue Saint-Maur – 75011 Paris

Jace - street art in Paris - Gouzou's at Le M.U.R. - Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith (1) (4)

Jace - street art in Paris - Gouzou's at Le M.U.R. - Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith (1) (1)

Jace - street art in Paris - Gouzou's at Le M.U.R. - Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith (1) (3)

Jace - street art in Paris - Gouzou's at Le M.U.R. - Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith (1) (2)

Paris’ #1 graffiti vandal – Horfe video interview by Will Robson-Scott

Paris street artist Horfe is considered to be one of, if not the leading graffiti writer in the world. His contribution to the Paris street art landscape is huge. Below is a short documentary on this amazing Paris graffiti artist.

The film entitled Death is Home is part of the Crack & Shine International series by London-based creative agency Topsafe - to which Horfe belongs, along with other graffiti art ‘progressive’ British graffiti artist, Roids. The film is directed by graffiti photographer, Will Robson-Scott.

Horfe has been writing his name on walls for the past 12 years, mainly in Paris, where his graffiti can be found on shop fronts, trucks, walls, train sidings and roof tops, city-wide.

Paris street art by Horfe. French graffiti artist Horfe is prolific in the Paris graffiti scene – Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith (7)

Paris street art by Horfe. French graffiti artist Horfe is prolific in the Paris graffiti scene – Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith (8)

His style of graffiti is extremely unique, blending typography and flat coloured illustration – it’s rumoured that Horfe attended the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, the distinguished National School of Fine Arts in Paris.

Horfe’s ‘dubs’ (graffiti painted quickly with no more than two or three colours), for example, are done with a naivete that disregards typical graffiti style. It is instead reminiscent of very early New York subway graffiti.

Horfe’s regressive approach to outdoors graffiti practice is being adopted by other leading graffiti artists. One notable example of this new approach is in the outdoors graffiti of London street artist Sickboy (a former stablemate of Banksy),  under the influence of London-based writers such as Petro.

Paris street art by Horfe. French graffiti artist Horfe is prolific in the Paris graffiti scene – Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith (11)

Theatre Lavoir Moderne Parisien painted by Horfe (France) & Sickboy (UK) - arranged by Alternative Paris. French graffiti artist Horfe is prolific in the Paris graffiti scene – Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith (1)

Horfe & Sickboy (London) painting on the front of the Theatre Lavoir Moderne Parisien in the Goutte D’Or in the 18th arrondissement, arranged by Alternative Paris.

Horfe (left) & Sickboy (far right) stand outside the Theatre Lavoir Moderne Parisien. French graffiti artist Horfe is prolific in the Paris graffiti scene – Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith (12)

Horfe (left) & Sickboy (far right) stand in front of their painting at the Theatre Lavoir Moderne Parisien

Paris street art by Horfe. French graffiti artist Horfe is prolific in the Paris graffiti scene – Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith (5)

Paris street art by Horfe painted in Le Marais

Paris street art by Horfe. French graffiti artist Horfe is prolific in the Paris graffiti scene – Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith (10)

Horfe painted shop front in one the main Paris street art spots in Belleville in the 20th arrondissement

Paris street art by Horfe. French graffiti artist Horfe is prolific in the Paris graffiti scene – Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith (9)

Horfe painted truck on Boulevard de la Villette in the 10th & 19th arrondissments – a good place to find some of Paris’ best truck graffiti.

Paris street art by Horfe. French graffiti artist Horfe is prolific in the Paris graffiti scene – Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith (4)

Horfe rooftop painted near to Les Halles and the Centre Pompidou

Paris street art by Horfe. French graffiti artist Horfe is prolific in the Paris graffiti scene – Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith (6)

Horfe’s regressive typographic style is seen in the letters PAL, painted by an unknown member of the PAL collective, one of the most active Paris graffiti crews

Paris street art by Horfe. French graffiti artist Horfe is prolific in the Paris graffiti scene – Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith (3)

Theatre Lavoir Moderne Parisien painted by Horfe (France) & Sickboy (UK) - arranged by Alternative Paris. French graffiti artist Horfe is prolific in the Paris graffiti scene – Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith (1)

This article was originally published on the website, Street Art Paris.

Interview with Paris stencil art genius, Artiste-Ouvrier

Paris stencil artist Artiste Ouvrier interview - Paris street art - Alternative Paris (14)

Paris stencil art by Artiste-Ouvrier at the vernissage of Le M.U.R (Association Modulable Urbain Reactif), on rue Oberkampf in Paris’ 11th Arrondissement.

Tell us a little about your artistic background and what inspired you to first start painting stencils, and become a street artist?

Street art came late for me, as I began stencilling in 1993, in order to have artworks from Klimt or Paolo Uccello, rather than the usual posters which I found silly and too far away from the painting. So basically I studied Philosophy at the Sorbonne for five years, and a bit of art history, after, and before having all kinds of jobs, from waiter to train cleaner, teacher for violent children. I began to paint in the street, half legally always, in 2003. I was already painting walls, but in the squats in Paris where I used to live.

Continue reading

Stolen VHILS Le M.U.R. is replaced with work by Le MoDuLe De ZeeR

VHILS Paris street art at Le M.U.R. Stolen & replaced with work by Le MoDuLe De ZeeR – Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith (6)

VHILS Paris street art at Le M.U.R. Stolen & replaced with work by Le MoDuLe De ZeeR – Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith (8)

Last night, French street artist Le MoDuLe De ZeeR hit ‘Le M.U.R.’ (Association Modulable, Urbain, Réactif), after the authorised work by Portuguese street artist Vhils was stolen earlier in the week.

The work of VHILS was taken on May 23rd by dastardly midnight marauders. The Le M.U.R. association, which manages the three by eight metre billboad set aside by the city council for the purpose of promoting street art, where Rue Oberkampf meets Rue Saint Maur in the 11th Arrondissement, invited the French street artist also known as LMDLDZR to create a temporary artwork to fill the artistic void.

VHILS Paris street art at Le M.U.R. Stolen & replaced with work by Le MoDuLe De ZeeR – Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith (9)

VHILS Paris street art at Le M.U.R. Stolen & replaced with work by Le MoDuLe De ZeeR – Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith (7)

At One in the morning, the anonymous LMDLDZR started work on his  figurative and abstract graphic-style design, using just black marker pens, managing to fill the white panelled wall in just two hours. He signed the work with a QR code also drawn in his motif pattern style.

VHILS Paris street art at Le M.U.R. Stolen & replaced with work by Le MoDuLe De ZeeR – Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith (5)

The artist is known for his ‘Tic Tac Toe’ street campaign, which can be seen all over Paris, and soon, on walls in New York and London the artist recently revealed to Street Art Paris over a stealthily supped espresso.

VHILS Paris street art at Le M.U.R. Stolen & replaced with work by Le MoDuLe De ZeeR – Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith (1)

VHILS Paris street art at Le M.U.R. Stolen & replaced with work by Le MoDuLe De ZeeR – Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith (3)

VHILS Paris street art at Le M.U.R. Stolen & replaced with work by Le MoDuLe De ZeeR – Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith (4)

The Le M.U.R. Project billboard usually changes every two weeks although this time the gap was a little shorter.  To find out a little more about Le M.U.R. please check out our previous post which covered VHILS’ work.  We will be regularly covering developments at Le MUR so check back soon to stay updated.   Below is another great piece by Le MoDuLe De ZeeR:

VHILS Paris street art at Le M.U.R. Stolen & replaced with work by Le MoDuLe De ZeeR – Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith (2)

Photos of Le M.U.R. and additional information by Maria Fernanda Hinke Schweichler at MyLifeOnMyBike blog.

This interview was originally published on the website, Street Art Paris.

Vhils, aka Alexandre Farto, hits Le MUR in Oberkampf

Vhils aka Alexandre Farto Paris street art at Le MUR, Oberkampf - Alternative Paris - Photo: Demian Smith (1)

Yesterday, Portuguese street artist VHILS, aka Alexandre Farto, hit ‘Le M.U.R.’ (Association Modulable, Urbain, Réactif), where Rue Oberkampf meets Rue Saint Maur in the 11th Arrondissement.

Vhils aka Alexandre Farto Paris street art at Le MUR, Oberkampf - Alternative Paris - Photo: Demian Smith (2)

Vhils aka Alexandre Farto Paris street art at Le MUR, Oberkampf - Alternative Paris - Photo: Demian Smith (3)

Vhils aka Alexandre Farto Paris street art at Le MUR, Oberkampf - Alternative Paris - Photo: Demian Smith (4)

The Le M.U.R. Project revolves around a three by eight metre billboad set aside by the city council for the purpose of promoting street art by presenting a different artist the opportunity to get up on the billboard every two weeks. Each time, the old artwork is covered by mash up of advertising posters and the latest artist is invited to put up their piece. The Le M.U.R. association was conceived in 2003 by Jean Faucheur and has been getting work up on the billboard consistently since 2007. A perusal of the Le MUR website reveals the staggering number of artists that have participated in this project and allows you to see the different incarnations of the billboard.

VHILS himself works with a variety of media but is probably best known for the relief portraits that he chisels into plaster and brick walls all over the world and in places as far flung as Shanghai, China. However, he is also at home creating portraits out of collage and wheat paste when the opportunity to attack the wall itself does not arise.

We, at Alternative Paris, intend to cover Le MUR regularly so please check back in two weeks time for details of the latest piece …

This article was originally published on the website, Street Art Paris.

Belleville, the epicentre of Parisian street art

The Belleville neighbourhood is our favourite street art and graffiti destination in Paris. Since the 1980s musicians and artists have cohabited with the indigenous working class and Chinese communities and utterly coated the walls with illegal artwork. The working classes and Chinese communities may have a thing or two to say about this, but their voices are mainly drowned out by the music. One of the best bands to have started out here is Les Rita Mitsouko, who we urge you to check out if you haven’t already.

Unlike London’s best spot for street art, Shoreditch, however, Belleville is yet to experience anything like the same kind of gentrification, so we suggest you come here before you’re just another sheep following the flock.

The Sheepest at rue de Belleville - Paris street art in Belleville, Paris - Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith (copyright 2012) (16)

The Sheepest spreads its anti-consumerist message from up high. The artist comes from near Grenoble where once upon a time the authorities ordered all graffiti be removed except sheep. Left alone, they generally last on the wall for around a year before being sheared off by the elements.

Fred le Chevalier - Paris street art in Belleville, Paris - Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith (copyright 2012) (4)

This hasty couple are by Fred le Chavalier, whose romantic characters can be seen all over Paris, often carrying a totem or accompanied by an poetic phrase.

Kouka at La Forge Kommune - Paris street art in Belleville, Paris - Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith (copyright 2012) (13)

This cute spray-can wielding youth is by local artist and musician, Kouka, who is mostly recognised for painting and pasting his monochrome Bantu warrior characters. Kouka is concerned with raising the public’s awareness of issues of identity and our origins.

Florence Blanchard aka EMA at rue Denoyez - Paris street art in Belleville, Paris - Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith (copyright 2012) (11)

These water-drop shaped portraits nicknamed Dropman (sic [surely Dropmen?!]) are by Ema aka Florence Blanchard. Painter Ema was raised in Montpelier and spent ten years living in Brooklyn. She now lives and works in Paris. You may like to check out her show, Ephemera, on at the moment at Galerie Rue de Beauce.

rue Denoyez - Paris street art in Belleville, Paris - Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith (copyright 2012) (12)

 

Teurk - Paris street art in Belleville, Paris - Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith (copyright 2012) (3)

Welcome to Belleville! The yellow brick on the right by the blokes head (top) is by Teurk aka Valentin Bechade, a painter, sculptor, designer and performer, from the second generation of graffiti artists that came up during the ’90s. Teurk’s frame of reference is influenced by the war-torn countries he’s visited. In 1995, he  travelled to Beirut where he made a series of photos showing the scars of a city riddled with bullets. He also visited Bosnia, shortly after the end of the war, where he painted on the ruins of the Mostar Bridge; and then to Hebron and East Jerusalem. Concrete is of special interest to Teurk, hence his crude trademark, a concrete block.

Alice Pasquni at rue Denoyez - Paris street art in Belleville, Paris - Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith (copyright 2012) (9)

The blue painted woman in the bottom-left hand corner is by Alice Pasquini, a.k.a. AliCè. Born in Rome, Pasquini is a professional illustrator who paints with rich colours.  She is interested in true representations of femininity through street art, and told Street Art London in an interview last year that she is annoyed by female stereotypes proposed by artists where women are seen as sexual objects or cartoon heroines. She has painted lots with French street artist, C215, and she is prolific in the streets of Paris suburb, Vitry-sur-Seine, which can be reached via the Paris Metro.

Diamant at rue Denoyez - Paris street art in Belleville, Paris - Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith (copyright 2012) (8)

Diamant is a young Parisian artist who is up a lot around town. His diamonds are made by painting onto glass. However, don’t be deceived into thinking Diamant is a one trick pony – he also creates poster and collage work on the streets, too. As he tells us: “I do not want to make diamonds to imprison me as some artists. I want to be free to do what I want. I keep the diamond as a signature.”

Repaize & Sair at rue Denoyez - Paris street art in Belleville, Paris - Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith (copyright 2012) (5)

This is Rue Denoyez, the beating heart of the Paris street art and graffiti scenes, and a mural by Saïr & Repaze done on the ‘mur d’en face’, the wall opposite the Frichez-Nous La Paix gallery, a major (yet tiny) space for displaying work from France’s graffiti scene. The gallery opened in 2002 to accommodate the artists of old squats in the area, and acts as a meeting place and a workshop. It was around this time that the ‘mur d’en face’ started to become a space for painters, printmakers, stencilists, and poster artists to express themselves.

1984 crew rooftop - Paris street art in Belleville, Paris - Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith (copyright 2012) (1)

1984 is one of Paris’ most famous graffiti crews. This piece of work has actually been created onto hardboard and stuck to the wall, rather than painted on. The roller is a much-used tool among graffiti and street artists, as well as the more commonly known spray can.

Bust Art at rue Denoyez - Paris street art in Belleville, Paris - Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith (copyright 2012) (10)

 

Bustart at rue Denoyez - Paris street art in Belleville, Paris - Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith (copyright 2012) (6)

The portrait (top), and child with Tin Tin’s dog (above) are both by Swiss artist Bustart.

Space Invader - Paris street art in Belleville, Paris - Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith (copyright 2012) (2)

Peek the top-left hand corner, and a mosaic by Paris’ most prolific street artist, Space Invader. Invader to his friends and work colleagues. Born in 1969, and starting out in his ‘career’ in 1998, his works can be seen in cities across the world, an “Invasion” which he documents, with books and maps of where to find each invader. The locations for the mosaics are chosen according to criteria including aesthetic, strategic or conceptual advantage. An Invader campaign in Montpelier was orchestrated so that, when placed on a map, the locations of all the mosaics formed an image of a giant space invader character. The mosaics are half built in advance and when Invader arrives in a city he obtains a map and spends at least a week to install them, before cataloguing, photographing and mapping the locations of each piece. Invader is one of the artists that features in Bansky-directed 2010 film, Exit Through the Gift Shop. He is the cousin of the main character, Thierry Guetta, aka Mr. Brainwash.

L'Atlas & Nemo at La Forge Kommune - Paris street art in Belleville, Paris - Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith (copyright 2012) (15)

The work on the left is by French artist L’Atlas, who in interested in the subject displacement. He is a distinguished calligrapher and practices calligraphic abstraction, whereby every letter is considered as a shape and every shape as a letter. The piece on the right is by Italian woman street artist, Nemo, who is getting up a lot at the moment around Shoreditch in London’s East End.

Belleville Zoo & Zoo Project at La Forge Kommune - Paris street art in Belleville, Paris - Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith (copyright 2012) (14)

These impressive murals are by various artists, most notably Teurk (see above) and Zoo Project, a young genius French-Algerian street artist, done on the back of La Forge Kommune, an old factory, which used to be a squat, but today houses workshops rented by professional artists.

This article was originally published on the website, Street Art Paris.

Interview with Ella & Pitr “les papiers peintres”

Ella & Pitr produce wheat-pasted street art, and currently have an exhibition at Galerie Le Feuvre (which also reps for Space Invader). Ella & Pitr met while putting up street art and now have two children together … Read on for their thoughts on their artwork, the feeling when one of their street artworks is ripped down, and the problems of pasting street art in low temperatures!

Ella et Pitr "les papiers peintres" interview - wheatpaste art - exhibition Galerie Le Feuvre - Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith

Rue Saint-Sébastien, Paris

Ella et Pitr "les papiers peintres" interview - wheatpaste art - exhibition Galerie Le Feuvre - Alternative Paris

Tell us a little about your artistic backgrounds and how you met.

We met each other one autumn evening in 2007 in the streets of St Etienne, while pasting. Ella, who comes from the south of France, was pasting up her first drawings, and I asked her what she was doing and if she’d like to paste work with me. She said yes – now we have two children.

Our backgrounds are like a connection between our street art and people in the streets – it’s very interactive. We play on this side of our art by asking people to take photos in front of the frames we paste, and getting them to send them to us.

Ella et Pitr "les papiers peintres" interview - wheatpaste art - exhibition Galerie Le Feuvre - Alternative Paris

Ella et Pitr "les papiers peintres" interview - wheatpaste art - exhibition Galerie Le Feuvre - Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith

Rue de l’Argonne, Paris

Ella et Pitr "les papiers peintres" interview - wheatpaste art - exhibition Galerie Le Feuvre - Alternative Paris

You currently have a show at Galerie Le Feuvre here in Paris. How does the work that you exhibit indoors differ from that which you paste in the streets?

Indoors, our work is not free, so for every canvas we show in a gallery, we paste two or three drawings outside to maintain the spirit of the street, which is our main activity. The reason behind our street art is simply that it’s the easiest way to get in touch with the public.

Ella et Pitr "les papiers peintres" interview - wheatpaste art - exhibition Galerie Le Feuvre - Alternative Paris

Ella et Pitr "les papiers peintres" interview - wheatpaste art - exhibition Galerie Le Feuvre - Alternative Paris

How do you choose the walls on which to paste your work? Do you prefer certain contexts over others?

We choose the walls that have beautiful colours, details and history. We like to paste drawings that can have a link with the context. We try to create a story for every drawing.

Ella et Pitr "les papiers peintres" interview - wheatpaste art - exhibition Galerie Le Feuvre - Alternative Paris

How do you prepare the work you paste?

We prepare our work in advance in a workshop and mainly use paper and Chinese ink.

Ella et Pitr "les papiers peintres" interview - wheatpaste art - exhibition Galerie Le Feuvre - Alternative Paris

What has been the most unusual place you’ve installed your work?

We have put work before in a church.

Ella et Pitr "les papiers peintres" interview - wheatpaste art - exhibition Galerie Le Feuvre - Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith

Rue Saint-Sébastien, Paris

Have you ever collaborated with other artists?

We are especially close to artists who have no direct link with street art – so far we have only worked with another street artist, Maca, whose work is compatible with ours.

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

The biggest challenge recently was the low temperature. We pasted recently when it was -12° and the glue became ice, and our fingers were out of control.

We’ve recently seen new work around Paris. Tell us a little about these pieces?

The drawings of picture frames we did are like a game. We think it’s cool to create a link between us and unknown people.

Ella et Pitr "les papiers peintres" interview - wheatpaste art - exhibition Galerie Le Feuvre - Alternative Paris

Ella et Pitr "les papiers peintres" interview - wheatpaste art - exhibition Galerie Le Feuvre - Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith

Rue Saint-Merri, opposite Centre Georges Pompidou 

Ella et Pitr "les papiers peintres" interview - wheatpaste art - exhibition Galerie Le Feuvre - Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith

Quai de la Loire, Paris

Tell us about some of the reactions that people have had to your work on the street.

Usually, people are pretty nice, but once when we were in Venice, a man who saw us pasting big works in the street phoned the police and followed us untill the police arrived. He was really proud of it. We were really angry. Fuck this guy.

How do you feel when one of your pieces is ripped down very soon after being put up?

We feel like children in front of a destroyed sand castle. And then we create a new drawing and start again to look for a place to paste it.

Ella et Pitr "les papiers peintres" interview - wheatpaste art - exhibition Galerie Le Feuvre - Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith

Ave. Jean Jaures, Paris

You live in St Etienne, but you travel a lot.  How does the street art scene in St Etienne, and France in general, compare to the other places you’ve been to?

St Etienne is a quiet city. Street art is not really important. We like to travel because it’s important for us to see what is going on in the world – everything is moving very fast.

Ella et Pitr "les papiers peintres" interview - wheatpaste art - exhibition Galerie Le Feuvre - Alternative Paris

Where else in the world would you like to put up pieces?

Where do we start – the list is too long.

What do you think is the importance of street art?

This is a joke, and we hope that one day, nobody will ask that sort of question.

Ella et Pitr "les papiers peintres" interview - wheatpaste art - exhibition Galerie Le Feuvre - Alternative Paris

Ella et Pitr "les papiers peintres" interview - wheatpaste art - exhibition Galerie Le Feuvre - Alternative Paris

What are your plans for 2012?

Day after day, forever.

Ella et Pitr "les papiers peintres" interview - wheatpaste art - exhibition Galerie Le Feuvre - Alternative Paris

This interview was originally published on the website, Street Art Paris.

C215 interview – Paris street art’s answer to Banksy?

A C215 interview is not an easy journalistic practice. It seems like every question one thinks of to ask is well worn. C215′s stencil technique is distinctive, as is the man behind the art. Starting out in the 1990s in graffiti C215 understands the style from its origins in Hip Hop, but C215′s stencil art is today far removed from New York subway cars. 

A master of placement, always making his street art fit its environment seamlessly, C215′s oeuvre would fill multiple volumes of books on street art. Not that C215′s art can be categorised solely in the context of street art. He has helped to redefine the boundaries of stencil graffiti and in Paris he has been elemental in gaining acceptance for the urban arts from local government; and whatever one understands about the man himself, his contribution to this new “Rock n Roll”, the global street art movement, is great. Paris’ answer to Banksy, though? You decide.

Paris stencil artist C215 aka Christian Guemy - Paris street art - Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith

Street art by C215 in Vitry-sur-Seine, the Paris suburb which street artist C215 has helped turn into a ‘street art museum’

Tell us about your artistic background and how you go into street art?

I haven’t had a formal artistic education, but my natural mother drew and left me her materials after she died at the age of 18. My grandmother drove me to reuse her materials and I would draw every Sunday at her place. This was when I was six, and I also used to draw a lot at school for fun – things like comics for the school journal and caricatures of kids and teachers. When I was fourteen, my uncle commissioned me to write Midnight Dreams in the NYC graffiti writers’ style, which was also around the time I first tried using spraypaint.

I’ve got a master’s degree in art history from the Sorbonne, about Franz Marc and Romanticism, and another master’s degree from CNRS, about XVIIth century religious theory of architecture and painting, but I’ve never been to art school, I’ve never been taught or studied fine art.

Paris stencil artist C215 aka Christian Guemy - Vitry-sur-Seine-Madonna-and-child - Paris street art - Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith

Street art by C215 in Vitry-sur-Seine. C215′s stencil technique blends his artwork seamlessly into its environment

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

It was of a colourful portrait of Ava, the mother of my daughter, Nina, in 2006, which I’d already made, without a computer.

Your friends and family feature in lots of your pieces. How do you go about selecting your subjects? Are they all people you know and what is the process to get your work onto the street?

This is a very natural process – I don’t believe that much in ‘Art’ with a big ‘A’, and when I think about my future, I want to remember my feelings and the people I met, so most of my recent works are based on pictures I took during my trips, pictures from my life, representing people that I loved. I am also working with friends like Jeremy Gibbs and Jon Cartwright. I think the most important thing in life is friendship.

Paris stencil artist C215 aka Christian Guemy - Paris street art - Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith

 C215 Street art in Vitry-sur-Seine

How do you choose which walls to paint on?  Do you prefer certain contexts over others?

It depends on the stencils I‘ve been preparing. I used to prepare my stencils and my colours according to the places I visit. After that I try to interact and make my works blend as much as possible into the environment.

Tell us about some of the reactions that people have had to your work on the street.

Most of them are nice, but it does occasionally happen that someone will have a stupid reaction. I remember once in Marseille a very bad feeling: a family of Arabic people began abusing the friend with whom I was painting because she was Italian. This happens, but rarely. Most of the time people come and check what I’m doing and are surprised, and then compare it to writing and love it.

Paris stencil artist C215 aka Christian Guemy - Paris street art - Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith

Stencil artist C215 Street art in Vitry-sur-Seine

You live in Vitry-sur-Seine in the south-eastern suburbs of Paris, which is covered by your work and the work of several other well-known street artists, including Roa, Jimmy C, Nunca and Pixel Pancho. What has been your part in making Vitry a street art ‘destination’?

I don’t know, it has been also very natural, just inviting friends of mine to paint in my area, with neighbours and city institutions providing walls. No sponsor, no project, no flyer – just artists working, relaxed in the streets. This is the good side of not being in Paris, intra-muros.

Paris stencil artist C215 aka Christian Guemy - Paris street art - Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith

Stencil artist C215 Street art in Vitry-sur-Seine

Having travelled extensively presenting your art in cities around the world, in which places did you have the best and worst experiences and why?

It has been great to paint all over the world and I’ve had mainly good experiences, and just a few negative ones. I especially like to go painting in places that are not yet familiar with street art.

Paris stencil artist C215 aka Christian Guemy - Rome street art - Alternative Paris

 Rome Street art by Stencil artist C215. Photo: C215

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

I think it was great to paint a copy of Caravaggio’s Medusa in the Piazza del Popolo in Rome, during the anniversary of the Carabinieri: hundreds of cops busy with a ceremony. I did it, as I did many other stupid risky paintings in the last few years.

Paris stencil artist C215 aka Christian Guemy - Paris street art - Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith

C215 street art in Vitry-sur-Seine

How does the street art scene in Paris and the surrounding arrondissements compare to that in the other cities?

Paris gave birth to street art, as New York gave birth to graffiti, and I guess in future Paris will be involved in this movement in a big way, like no other city in the world.

Where in else in the world would you like to put up pieces?

I want to go to South Africa quite soon as well as a few other exotic destinations.

Paris stencil artist C215 aka Christian Guemy - Paris street art - Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith

Stencil artist C215 Street art in Vitry-sur-Seine

Tell us about your latest exhibition “Prophètes” that is taking place in the XVIIth century Saint-Louis de la Salpêtrière church in Paris, and about transferring your art onto stained glass light-boxes?

Basically, I’ve been transferring my main kids’ portraits into religious icons, and placing them in a church, as ecumenical symbols.

My art is anthropocentric and I believe every person is a cosmos, with a certain divinity. I want to give this through my art as a symbol of a new iconology. Instead of old classical religious icons, I selected kids faces as an ecumenical symbol of faith and hope.

Stained glass is a new medium to me and follows on from, firstly, painting white on dark surfaces, and then, my exploration of colour. This is the first time I’ve tried exploring light as a medium; although, the stencil allows light to pass through it.

Light is also linked to religion, however, for the people who would have a certain inhibition to visit an exhibition taking place in a Christian church, they can still visit the light box which will be displayed outside the church, on the wall of the City Hall of the 13th arrondissement of Paris, creating a “universal” space, which acts in a different way from the religious space of the church. Maybe for me, as a street artist, it is even more important to see the reception of this one piece, than the rest of the light boxes that will be inside the church. Every night, along with the city lights, the light box will be turned on.

Paris stencil artist C215 aka Christian Guemy - Paris street art - Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith

Stencil artist C215 Street art in Vitry-sur-Seine

You have said that the exhibition is “a call for religious tolerance and ecumenism”, and many of your street pieces carry the slogan, “MAKE ART NOT WAR”. What role should politics play in urban art?

Painting in the street is already a political act, because it helps to fight against standardization. You can have a more specific message, but for me “Making Art” in the streets is already something

Paris stencil artist C215 aka Christian Guemy - Paris street art - Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith

Stencil artist C215 Street art in Vitry-sur-Seine

What do you think the importance of street art is?

Street art is as important now as was Rock ‘n’ Roll in the 1950′s. So, it’s just the beginning, and it will change the world.

C215 interview - Paris stencil artist C215 aka Christian Guemy - Paris street art - Alternative Paris. Photo: Demian Smith

Stencil artist C215 Street art in Vitry-sur-Seine

What are your plans for 2011?

Being happy, travelling as much as I can with my daughter and to enjoy life.

Paris stencil artist C215 aka Christian Guemy - Paris street art - Alternative Paris - credit-photo-agnes-gautier

Stencil artist C215. Photo: Agnes Gautier

C215’s latest exhibition “Prophètes”, organised by Galerie Itinerrance the city of Paris, opens on 22nd March 2012 at 6pm at the XVIIth Century consecrated Parisian church Saint-Louis de la Salpêtrière:

Chapelle Saint-Louis, Pitié-Salpêtrière
47 Bd of Hospital, 75013
For more information email: mehdi.bencheikh@itinerrance.fr

Paris stencil artist C215 aka Christian Guemy - Paris street art exhibition, The Prophets - Alternative Paris

For more on C215 check out his website Flickr and Facebook pages.

This interview was originally published on the website, Street Art Paris.