Abstract graffiti on the ceiling, floor and walls, mostly in black, red and white, tags everywhere. Few dashes of colour in drained graffiti and a soft pallet in the room beside of it, make this space in Palais de Tokyo a messy temple of graffiti culture.
Dans Les Entrailles Du Palais Secret [In The Entrails Of The Secret Palais] is an intervention created in the basement of the museum, and the next step after the astonishing Le Mausolée project presented earlier this year by French graffiti artists (not street artists) Lek & Sowat.
Inside the massive Palais do Tokyo complex, the project has been realised in the passages leading to the emergency exit, a space that has never been open to the public before, let alone used to show art. The space has been purposely chosen in an attempt to stay loyal to the original roots of graffiti, even inside the environs of a rich and powerful contemporary art museum.
Firstly, about the artists leading the project: Lek, one of the first generation of Parisian graffiti art, learned his craft between the north-east Parisian districts of La Chapelle and Stalingrad, where French street culture emerged. Nowadays, he works with the crews French Kiss, LCA, GNS, RAW and 1984, with a focus on abstract graffiti, graffiti futurism, post-graffiti – whatever you want to call it, but directly connected to the artistic culture that started on the sides of New York subway cars in the 1970s and 1980s – graffiti, not street art.
Meanwhile, Sowat is a Franco-American graffiti artist who grew up between Marseille and Los Angeles. He was inspired by Chaz Bojorquez, an important figure in the Californian graffiti scene, who developed “Cholo writing”, a calligraphy used to mark the territories of Latino gangs in Los Angeles. Sowat works with one of the most sophisticated graffiti crews in Paris, Da Mental Vaporz.
Both artists are practitioners of Urbex, short for Urban Exploration, a discipline that consists of finding abandoned spaces, and in these artists cases, creating artistic interventions. The curatorial idea of this project was to reproduce the feeling of Le Mausolée, inviting artists from other generations with different artistic practices, to work together as a collective.
Other artists who were involved in the creation of Dans Les Entrailles Du Palais Secret at Palais de Tokyo, are as follows:
ALËXONE, AZYLE, BABS, BOM.K, COKNEY, DEM189, DRAN, HONDA, HORFÉ, KATRE, LEK, OUTSIDER, RIZOTE, SAMBRE, SETH, SOWAT, SWIZ, VELVET, WXYZ, ZOER
The Palais de Tokyo installation is inspired by Lek & Sowat’s, Le Mausolée project – one of the most astonishing ever illegal graffiti interventions, which was unveiled in 2012. Produced over a year long period by 40 of France’s best graffiti artists at a 430,000 square foot abandoned supermarket at Porte de Pantin in north Paris, you can watch a stop-motion video of the event, below:
Palais de Tokyo
13 Avenue du Président Wilson, 75016 Paris
Runs until 1st September, 2013