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

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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.

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.