Crossing borders 019: Emmalene Blake (ESTR)

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It is with a great sense of nostalgia that I announce this Crossing Borders column to be the last of the series. Why stop at such an odd number (19)? That’s not something I have the answer for. I can speculate however.

Back in 2009 when I was on my 19th year on this planet, things happened that were quite defining for me. Then fast track to the beginning of this column, I wanted to get into creative writing, was looking for an open door and someone to give me a chance. This was just a little over a year and a half ago. Fresh Paint Gallery seemed like the best platform to immerse myself in the street art/graffiti culture and reaching out to international artists and showcase their work through an Q&A interview was the way I chose to go. Then a year into the series, it was once again the start of something new. Moving to Ireland. Which I did all alone, with a backpack and my ipad. It just  feels like I need to start something new and showcasing a talented Dublin artist was the only way to end the series – after all, I AM IN DUBLIN.

I wish to thank all the amazing artists who took the time to chat with me, skype or meet; the experience has been truly insightful and sure, unforgettable. Without any further, I am pleased to introduce you Emmalene Blake, or ESTR, who was kind enough to take some of her time to chat with me about street art in Dublin, her personal work and upcoming projects!

[Fresh Paint Gallery]: I’ve only been in Ireland for the past six months, yet I’ve repeatedly been told how “Dublin is a small place, and you always end up running into someone you know”. I can only imagine how tight and supportive of its artists the street art community is. But you tell me! How are you getting on these days?

[ESTR]: Well firstly, I hope you’re enjoying your time here! Yeah, Dublin is definitely a small place and as you can imagine, this has made the art scene a tight-knit community, which I think can be great! Being surrounded by so much culture and creative minds is a breeding ground for more creativity and art. But yeah, I’m doing pretty great these days. I’ve been working on some cool projects and have more great stuff coming up; can’t complain! Back at the start of the year, I joined Minaw Collective, an all female Ireland-based street art collective, so getting to work on projects and at jams with those guys has been great too. Also, I recently moved into a new studio. I love it; it’s amazing.

[FP]: You have worked with companies like Penneys, RTE and The Maldron Hotels. How has been your experience of going from working as a freelance illustrator and graphic designer to getting involved in the street art scene?

[ESTR]: Well actually, street art has been a part of my life for a long time. Even while I was working as a freelancer, I still did street art. My first real street artwork was back in college in 2009, when I made stencils of Brian Cowen’s face on a mickey mouse figure -which may or may not have found its home on various walls around the city! So although recognition for my street art came later, I’ve been embracing the lifestyle for quite a while now. Regarding the shift, I don’t think I will ever move entirely from one thing to another. I am definitely the kind of person who likes to work on a lot of different things, so I can’t really say what I will or won’t be doing in a year or two!

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[FP]: In your personal experience, what do you feel are the main difficulties, but also the greatest parts of being an artist living and working in Ireland?
[ESTR]: I think this relates to what I said earlier; Ireland -and especially Dublin- is so full of culture and art. There are so many artists and creative minds that with that kind of buzz, it’s difficult not to be creative. I mean, it’s such a great platform to work from. That, I think really is great. You’re always going to be able to be inspired because I think creativity and art are really nurtured in our society. I do believe it’s a double-edged sword though, because with the amount of talent around, I think a lot of people get lost in the sea of it all. I think a lot of talented young artists never reach their potential because they feel they don’t measure up to it all. Or maybe they just give up because they don’t get a break. There are so many really great artists out there who end up working in jobs that have nothing to do with art. I think that’s hard, to work away at something when you feel you are not getting recognition and maybe aren’t getting the support you need from friends and family. I think although the mainstream community is very supportive of the arts, on a personal and individual scale, some people may not feel that support.

[FP]: I was reading about the Irish Rail’s stance on street art/graffiti/tagging and wasn’t all that surprised when I saw they had a zero tolerance policy on tagging and said they would press charges if they caught the responsible acts. On the other hand, some big mural projects get approval from City Councils. Now, the difference between these two examples is huge, but once again in your experience, where do feel Irish authorities draw the line between helping out and prosecuting? Have you ever ran into trouble for painting?

[ESTR]: I think that although I may not agree with Irish Rail’s stance, it’s the position of nearly every railway everywhere. Graffiti is not legal in most places and if caught, your fate is the same regardless of where you are. Charges will be pressed. I think it’s understandable to some extent; nobody wants to see “Denise loves Mick” or a massive cock on the side of a bus or train, but I think there is a huge difference in art and vandalizing. Ideally, I hope that we eventually move towards having bigger liberties for art. And I have to say that the big mural projects you’ve mentioned are definitely a step in that direction! Thankfully, I’ve never run into any serious trouble for painting, but that’s just because I’m a model citizen who DEFINITELY has never broken the law. 😉

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[FP:] What do you consider being three top three most important values in your life/career?

[ESTR]: Top three, it would have to be my family and friends, staying true to myself and self-confidence. That last one might sound a bit cheesy, but to be honest, being an artist is not an easy job. I think it’s important you always make sure you are in a good place, that you are taking care of yourself, reminding yourself that you are good enough and that you have something worthwhile to contribute. I think a lot of artists tend to be their own worst enemy at times. I am definitely guilty of this.

By staying true, I mean that at the end of the day, I want to be able stand proudly behind every piece of work I have made. I never want to do something just because it’s a commission. I want to be able to be passionate about my work. And I would never take a commission if it I didn’t agree with what or who it represented. I recently turned down a commission due to this.

Lastly, my friends and my family mean the world to me, I can’t praise them enough for everything they do for me. I am lucky to have the people I have surrounded myself with. My best friend Jess, although she lives in Eindhoven, is always there to give me a hand or her opinion whenever I get on to her. She’s a super talented artist, so I know I can trust her opinion on anything workwise!

[FP]: Do you see any sorts of a common thread in Irish street art? Themes, values, colors, political or social ideas?

[ESTR]: Of course, I mean art, in general, doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It is always influenced by the culture and people you are surrounded by. I think this is especially true when we talk about street art. A lot of street artists tend to want to make a comment on something, or get a reaction from a simple glance. Bring some humor to someone’s day, or get them question something. I think that with that being said, a lot of us here in Ireland care about similar issues, and we definitely have the same sense of humor. So yeah, I do think you get similar themes throughout art. I guess that’s also what makes it so interesting. Seeing each person’s response to the same experience.

[FP]: If you had the opportunity to append your art to any existing structure in the world, which would you choose and why?
[ESTR]: The Great Wall of China, ’cause sure wouldn’t it be great for my artwork to be seen from space!

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[FP]: In which projects are you getting involved in next?

[ESTR]: There’s going to be a video of a free art project I’m currently working on, encouraging the introduction of same-sex marriage to countries who have yet to legalize it. First up – closest to home, Northern Ireland. I went up a couple of weeks ago to do it so that video will be going live soon. Then Waterford Walls is happening. That’s going to be huge. So many amazing artists are painting at it, so I’m looking forward to that.

© All photos courtesy of Emmalene Blake (ESTR).

Website | Instagram

Emmalene Blake (ESTR) is an Irish artist with great ambition. Currently completing a MA in Professional Design Practice, she studied at the Dublin Institute of Technology where she graduated with an Honour’s BA in Fine Art in 2012. Introduced to many different mediums during her college years, it opened up for her a world of opportunity and experimentation. It wasn’t until she graduated that she found  herself immersed in the street art community. ESTR runs regular art workshops for youth groups, children’s groups and groups for young people with disabilities and though the majority of these are spray painting workshops, she  also runs other style of workshops.

Delphine Dussoubs aka Dalkhafine : entre illustration, animation 2D et VJing

Originaire de France et basée à Montréal depuis 2013, Delphine Dussoubs aka Dalkhafine réunit l’illustration, l’animation 2D et le VJing au cœur de son parcours artistique coloré. Sa fibre créatrice la pousse à se lancer dans une multitude d’expérimentations. Ainsi au sein du collectif BBBlaster qu’elle forme avec Louise Druelle, Delphine se lance dans la création des visuels de la tournée Peace is the Mission de Major Lazer en 2015.
Participante à la 21e édition du festival Under Pressure, qui se déroulera du 10 au 14 août pour célébrer la culture urbaine partout à Montréal, découvrez-en davantage sur le parcours de Dalkhafine, cette artiste multidisciplinaire qui nous emporte dans son imaginaire.

Fresh Paint : Bonjour Delphine, tu es une artiste multidisciplinaire : illustration, animation 2D et VJing. Originaire de France et basée actuellement à Montréal, peux-tu nous en dire plus sur ton parcours, de tes débuts solo sous le nom de Dalkhafine à la création du collectif de VJing BBBlaster ?
Dalkhafine : J’ai fait 5 ans d’études dans le domaine du cinéma d’animation 2D et 3D, puis j’ai commencé en tant que pigiste dans la publicité. J’ai ensuite déménagé à Montréal en 2013, et depuis je travaille plutôt dans l’univers de l’animation 2D, l’illustration et le show. Le fait d’être pigiste est un grand atout car cela me permet de choisir les projets sur lesquels je veux travailler, prendre du temps pour moi quand je le veux, mais aussi d’expérimenter de nouvelles techniques : depuis peu, par exemple, je me suis mise à la peinture (fresques / lettrages) alors que c’est un domaine que je ne connaissais pas tant que ça avant.
Concernant notre collectif de VJ BBBlaster, je me suis associée à Louise Druelle, nous avons fait les mêmes études en animation et on suivait le travail de chacune. C’était assez naturel d’être dans le même collectif car nos deux styles se répondent et nous avons principalement les mêmes sources d’inspiration.

FP : Au cours de ton cheminement artistique, quelle a été l’une de tes expériences ou découvertes la plus surprenante ou la plus exceptionnelle ?
Dalkhafine : Je n’ai pas eu de découverte surprenante, cependant je peux dire que lier le domaine de l’animation et de la musique est quelque chose que j’aime de plus en plus apprendre / faire. Le VJing ou l’univers du show, c’est un peu comme réaliser un clip musical et penser un décors de spectacle en même temps. Tu fais fiter tes animations avec le beat, tu crées en fonction de la couleur musicale que tu entends… c’est vraiment inspirant, surtout que je ne suis pas une musicienne! Alors ça m’apprend beaucoup de chose, et aujourd’hui je vois la musique différemment.

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FP : Comment as-tu été amenée à créer les visuels de la tournée Dear Girl de Pharell Williams en 2014 et du Peace is the mission Tour de Major Lazer en 2015 ? Et, quelle est ton inspiration pour choisir et concevoir des animations qui soient les plus représentatives de la musique ?
Dalkhafine : Pour Pharrell, j’ai été directement contactée par Yoann Lemoine (Woodkid) afin de travailler sur la tune « Hot in here » pour son show à Coachella. Puis comme ça s’était bien passée, ils m’ont recontacté pour travailler sur trois nouvelles tracks pour son Dear Girl Tour à l’automne 2014. Les designs ont été réalisés par l’illustrateur Niark1, donc je n’avais qu’à m’occuper de l’animation 2D.
Pour Major Lazer, c’est le réalisateur New Yorkais Mike Burakoff qui nous a contacté au sein de BBBlaster afin que l’on crée les designs ainsi que les animations pour l’une des tracks du tour. On a presque eu carte blanche, il fallait juste respecter la thématique « jungle » alors c’était vraiment le fun à réaliser.
Il voulait notre style, donc on a juste créé ce que l’on aimait faire. Je pense que mon inspiration vient d’un beau melting-pot des vidéos clips que je regardais étant petite, mais aussi je visionne beaucoup de courts métrages en animation 2D et suis pas mal d’artistes sur instagram. C’est plein d’inspirations quotidiennes qui rythment mon travail.

FP : Ta première participation avec nous (la galerie FreshPaint) fût lors de notre événement Queens Creation, rassemblant des femmes qui ont contribué à la communauté de l’art urbain par leur talent. En cette occasion, tu as créé une déesse hindoue, que retires-tu de l’expérience Queens Creation ? Quelle connexion ressens-tu avec l’art urbain ?
Dalkhafine : Je ne viens pas de ce domaine, même si j’ai toujours trippé sur les fresques et graffs dans la rue. Mais je trouve ça vraiment top de m’y mettre petit à petit, c’est comme explorer une nouvelle voie. Et puis je suis habituée à faire du petit format, alors ça me fait sortir de ma zone de confort haha! J’ai vraiment eu du fun à faire la fresque pour Queens Creation, surtout dans le cadre de cet évènement- là qui donne la parole aux femmes.
Pour moi quelque part, l’art urbain est un peu un moyen de s’exprimer mais à plus grande échelle et d’exposer son travail aux yeux des passants. Ici, tu n’es plus dans le cadre d’une galerie qui te choisit en tant qu’artiste, mais c’est plutôt toi qui choisis de montrer (en vandale ou pas) ce que tu veux montrer. C’est un support à la portée de tous, tout le monde peut y contribuer à sa façon (collages, peintures, graffitis à la bombe… ) et je trouve ça plutôt cool. Ça peut être aussi un bon moyen de faire passer un message pour certains (Obey, Miss Me… ) ou tout simplement de venir égayer la rue.

FP : Entre le 10 et le 14 août, le festival Under Pressure va prendre place à Montréal afin de célébrer pour la 21e année consécutive la culture urbaine. Peux-tu nous parler de l’oeuvre que tu t’apprètes à concevoir dans le cadre du festival ?
Dalkhafine : Je travaille actuellement sur un collage d’une section de deux fenêtres pour le bâtiment La Patrie au coin Sainte Catherine / Avenue de l’Hôtel de ville. C’est la première fois que j’utilise cette technique alors je trouve ça assez excitant. Je tourne autour de la thématique animale et de la jungle pour ces deux panneaux. J’aime bien dessiner des animaux sauvages dans un environnement naturel et organique, car ça vient un peu casser le côté linéaire et droit du paysage urbain.

FP : D’autres expérimentations artistiques en ébullition pour 2016-2017 ?
Dalkhafine : Je vais essayer de me diriger un peu plus vers la peinture / fresque, faire plus de résidences d’artistes pour développer ça et surtout voyager pour rester inspirée!

Dalkhafine
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cargocollective.com/delphinedussoubs

 

Crossing borders 018: Ralph Ziman

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Do you believe in peace on earth?

Most of my entourage is a little bit older than I am and because of this, babies and marriage are subjects that are brought into a conversation way more often than they used to. Personally, I’m nowhere near ready to have a child… I’m not even sure I want one. For that child’s sake. In 1989, The Miracle was the 13th studio album released by British rock band, Queen. On its title track, Freddie Mercury would sing “the one thing we’re all waiting for, is peace on earth and an end to war/It’s a miracle we need/That time will come one day you’ll see when we can all be friends”…

But what do I know about war? I’m lucky enough to have never experienced it first hand, and even more fortunate to not have lost one of my brothers to the war in Irak and Afganistan. I’m aware of how favored my upbringing in the world was. Not everyone has had my luck. Almost three decades have gone by since Queen’s release of their fifth single off The Miracle. More than 70 years have passed since the end of WWII and still on the news, all I see is humans repeating the same mistakes and bad decisions of the past, humans killing each other over power, land, racism, name it. It sickens me.

Maybe that’s why I love art so much: it opens discussions, and even if the piece is charged with sadness or restlessness, an underlying beauty remains to ease the pain in some of us.

For this Crossing borders’ edition, I was fortunate enough to speak with well-known and recognized South African director, writer and artist Ralph Ziman about his birth country, street art, film making and how he translates his life experiences, skills and learnings into a statement on culture and nowadays world issues into art.

[Fresh Paint Gallery]: You moved out of South Africa at the age of 19, to avoid conscription into the SADF. Were you already inclined to art at the time?
[Ralph Ziman]: I’ve always painted, I’ve always drawn. When I was 13 or 14, I was very much into photography, which fascinated me. I loved it, and I did that. Then, I suppose I started working. My first job out of school [at the age of] 18, was working as a cameraman, so I got into film that way. At every point in my life, I’ve been doing some form of visual art and, you know, from time to time it tends to shift and I do other things, different things.

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[F.P.G.]: Nowadays, you live in Los Angeles with your family. How close have you stayed with your roots?

[R.Z.]: I go back a lot. Some years, I’ll go back 3, 4 or 5 times, sometimes I’ll go back 2 or 3 times, and sometimes I’ll be there for a 6 or 9 months stretch. When I left South Africa, I thought I would never come back. I was eighteen; Apartheid was in full swing and the control it had over everything was absolute. Over the media, over radio, television, what could be shown, what magazines [could be read]… With a police state, in the early 80’s, we found ourselves embroiled in our war on the border. […] In South Africa, we were at the beginning of what was the civil war and they [authorities] were deploying the army into the townships which… none of it was anything I felt I could agree with. I couldn’t just do the military and tell my kids one day I fought on the side of Apartheid because I had to. So the options, they were very [limited]: it was leave and never go back, or stay and do the military. Or, perhaps a third option was to [be opposed to it] and spend maybe 6 to 8 years in a military prison, being abused and beaten. So, I boarded an airplane, and I left.

 

[F.P.G.]: Do you still have family there then?
[R.Z.]: I still have some family there; my parents are still there, I’ve got a brother there…. I still have some good friends from when I was a kid, and I’ve got a lot of friends I’ve made over the years, new friends. So you know, I connect with South Africa and people there. I love it; I love Johannesburg — the cultural aspects of it. I love that it has become this fascinating African city. There were places in Johannesburg when I was a kid -like Hillbrow- you’d go there, and it would be 95% white people… now you go there, and it’s 95% black people. A lot of places are still the same and familiar, but a lot of places have turned on their head. It is really interesting, and the other fascinating thing about Johannesburg now is, it’s not just South Africans; you meet Zimbabweans, Nigerians, Congolese… it’s become kind of this melting pot of Africa where you’ve got big numbers of people from every part of the continent. It is culturally just a fascinating place.

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[F.P.G.]: Being born in Johannesburg, but having spent most of your life living in the USA, where do you stand between what you know, have seen and lived, and the media’s representation of the African continent?
[R.Z.]: I think the way Africa tends to be represented is when there’s a war, a conflict or Boko Haram, and then it makes headlines. The rest of it tends to get very under-covered, and I think it’s a pity in a way because a lot is going on in Africa. I wish [the media didn’t] only show the wars and the most sensational aspects of it. It’s a huge place. News coverage… I mean, sometimes I do wish they would be harsher on governments that are in power about issues of corruption and not living up to the expectations of the people who elected them and put them there. In South Africa, I feel like the money that the country had should have been spent on education primarily, and then on housing for poor people who at the end of Apartheid had nothing, and then on hospitals and people’s health, on having a system to look after people. I think instead, what happened is that huge amounts of money are being served for corruption. Corruption done through massive arms deals, for example. […] It’s always been like that, unfortunately, so now a country like South Africa has one of the world’s biggest gaps between rich and poor.

 

[F.P.G.]: What perspective on art or life have you gained by moving out of South Africa when you did?
[R.Z.]: I mean, I couldn’t stay [in South Africa] because of Apartheid, but I do think there’s something interesting when you leave a country. When you’re away for long periods of time and you come back, you look at everything with a pair of fresh eyes. You look at things that people don’t think are interesting because they see them every day of their lives. As a photographer or as a tourist, a visitor, a guest, a traveler or whatever it is, you’ll go to places and be fascinated by something that people [see] every day. You’ll look at the electric fences of everybody’s homes in Johannesburg, and you’ll go “wow”, but other people have become so accustomed to it… I think in some ways, going back there with a fresh mind and a fresh eye, it has allowed me to see and be inspired by things that might just be mundane if I lived there.

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[F.P.G.]: At the time, your project “Ghosts” provoked heaps of discussion and media coverage. How satisfied are you with the impact it had? Do you still see that project having an impact today?
[R.Z.]: It’s something we want to keep going with. We did the first series in Johannesburg in 2013 […] and they’ve had a great impact, we’re still selling the prints – at least 3 or 4 a month. We managed to get a lot of attention from Huffington Post, BBC, The Guardian, CNN… A lot of people ran pieces on it. I do feel like people saw us and people took notice, and it’s something I want to carry on with, both in terms of raising awareness and donating money to charities that deal with gun violence and issues like that. It’s a project that has a life to it.

 

[F.P.G.]: Nonetheless, that project gave half a dozen Zimbabwean craftsmen 6 months of full-time work. What kind of response did you get from them? Is this something you try to do if possible? Implicate local artists in your projects?
[R.Z.]: It’s been great, because we have a really good relationship and I’ve continued to work with them through the years and I’m even working with them now on new projects. They’re just really great guys. It’s been nice hanging, talking, being with them, you know. The guys I work with, they’re five very different guys in terms of their personalities and their characters, but really, they’re all fascinating people. So yes, it’s an ongoing thing and we want to build it to the point where it’s giving them a full time job working on various projects, so that they can have a full time income and not be at the mercy of how many tourists come this year.

 

[F.P.G.]: With corruption and heavy police presence, to what extent is street art, graffiti or wheat pasting accepted? Was it hard for the Resistance project to see the day in terms of authorizations and such?
[R.Z.]: Well, It’s hard in Cape Town. We just put a new one up in Johannesburg last month, when I was over there. I collaborated with Jesse Hazelip, an artist I really admire. In Johannesburg, you can pretty much do anything you want. You could start putting a mural up in broad daylight and you would probably not get into any trouble for it. In Cape Town, in order to get anything done at all, you need the city to sign off. You need permission from the local municipality. […] It turned out okay and we had the city behind us and they were very in favor of what we are doing.

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[F.P.G.]: What’s the next step on that project?
[R.Z.]: We want to take it and put one in every city in the world. So far we’ve got one in Johannesburg, one in Cape Town, one in the townships around Cape Town, one in Venice, one in downtown L.A., one in South Central L.A. We just want to keep going and see if we can put these up all around the world.

 

[F.P.G.]: What’s your creative process like? Does your strong and successful background in film making has an effect on the way you create and present art?
[R.Z.]: I suppose the thing about film making is that it’s horrible in terms of how hard it is to make one: how much politics are involved, how much money you need to raise… how much of your life gets spent doing non-creative things. Trying to get a budget, figure out how to do it in the time that you have and the money that you have.

I suppose it’s probably subconscious things you learn, that you apply. Then, I think there’s probably a lot of new skills you have to learn, which I kind of love doing. I love not really being able to do what I think I should be able to do. Figuring it out as I go along. There’s something to be said about not being too comfortable in what you do or too sure of yourself. Street art is an amazing way of communicating; it’s not advertising, it’s not a billboard. But it gets people to react.

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[F.P.G.]: Is there a particular medium you prefer using and why? What kind of freedom does it provide you?
[R.Z.]: I just like when you can bring aspects of all of them together. When you can take what you know about photography or filming and use it to help you make a mural. I think nowadays there’s a lot of mediums being brought together by everybody, and I like that.

 

[F.P.G.]: Anything to be released in a nearby future?
[R.Z.]: Probably in about a year or so! It should be really fun!

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© All photos courtesy of Ralph Ziman.

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Ralph Ziman was born in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1963. He has directed over 400 videos for artists as diverse as Ozzy Osbourne, Toni Braxton, Rod Stewart, Michael Jackson, Shania Twain and Rick James, winning numerous MTV awards. His work in film includes over six features as a writer/director/producer including Hearts and Minds, the first independent South African feature film to be completed after apartheid. His vivid public art never ceases to raise awareness and open discussions. Heavy issues are put in the forefront: global arms trade, trophy hunting, resistance, a cycle of war, impoverishment and more, turning his art into a statement on culture. Currently based out in L.A. with his family, he focuses on his art practice, and flies back to his hometown a few times a year.

Portrait d’un artiste : Borrrris

L’exposition Art Flip 2 : le glitch artistique proposait des œuvres d’une cinquantaine d’artistes auxquels on avait demandé de créer une œuvre à partir d’un skateboard. Cette première édition montréalaise relève le défi : une cinquantaine d’œuvres utilisent la planche avec, chaque fois, un regard différent. De l’installation à la peinture en passant par la sculpture, les artistes exposés explorent leur support. En parcourant l’exposition, une œuvre a particulièrement raisonné avec ma vision du skateboard et du graffiti. Il s’agit de la planche réalisée par Borrrris, Se jeter dans la gueule du loup. Cette pièce, à mon sens, illustre bien le sentiment à mi-chemin entre la peur et la liberté qui nous envahit quand on prend d’assaut la rue, avec la bombe ou la planche. Intriguée par cette pièce, j’ai voulu en savoir plus sur cette dernière ainsi que sur l’artiste, qui a collaboré plus d’une fois avec la galerie Fresh Paint. Malgré son horaire chargé, Borrrris a gentiment accepté de répondre à mes questions, en voici un résumé.

D’abord formé en science, Borrrris vise une carrière en pharmacologie. C’est alors qu’il fait son entrée dans l’univers de l’art par la culture du hip-hop et du graffiti. Contrairement aux sciences, il s’agit d’un monde dans lequel les règles sont absentes et où tout est à créer. C’est cette idée qu’il n’existe aucune limite qui l’attire alors vers le graffiti, à cette époque où il se cherche encore. Rapidement, son choix est fait et il se détourne des sciences pour se consacrer à l’art, qui lui permet d’entrer plus facilement en contact avec les gens dit-il. Puis, au fil des réalisations, au graffiti s’ajoutent le graphisme et l’illustration qui lui permettent de communiquer ses idées à un plus grand public.

Son travail artistique est figuratif et très influencé par l’illustration. En effet, par ses compositions et dessins, Borrrris raconte une histoire, illustre un concept ou une idée. Il décrit lui-même son travail comme centré sur l’identité et la perception, éléments qu’il explore dans ses compositions par un travail des formes et des couleurs. L’univers des contes et la mythologie semblent donner à l’artiste une banque de personnages auxquels il ajoute les couleurs et les formes qui lui sont propres. En effet, certains éléments, tel le vert, le mauve ainsi que la figure du cavalier sont récurrents dans son travail visuel. Mais, s’il n’a pas de personnage ou de forme fétiche, tous semblent tirés du même univers; un monde dans lequel les proportions sont étirées pour donner de longs membres à ceux qui peuplent ses histoires le temps d’une image. Si l’imagerie des contes et de la mythologie l’inspire, Borrrris s’intéresse aussi à des thématiques plus sociales. Il a notamment traité d’écologie et d’alcoolisme dans le style visuel qu’on lui connaît, avec son dessin Bottled Up par exemple. Avec cette dernière, il met en image le sentiment de solitude et d’emprisonnement de ceux qui sont dépendants à la bouteille. Cette signature graphique, l’artiste l’adapte selon le médium, tout en cherchant à conserver une cohérence. Il mentionne par contre, se permettre plus de liberté lorsqu’il travaille sur une illustration que sur une murale.

Pour l’exposition Art flip 2 : le glitch artistique, Borrrris propose Se jeter dans la gueule du loup. Peint sur un skateboard, on y retrouve la rue, sous la forme d’un loup, qui veut avaler le planchiste. De cette façon, il illustre ce sentiment qui prend d’assaut le planchiste alors qu’il se lance dans les rues, malgré les risques de blessures et de contraventions. Pour Borrrris, ce mélange d’aventure, de découverte et de danger peut aussi bien s’appliquer au skateboard qu’au graffiti. Bien qu’il ne skate pas lui-même, il retrouve, dans le graffiti, cet engouement pour les sensations fortes et le dépassement de soi présent dans l’univers du skate. Il transpose donc son propre rapport à la rue sur un skateboard pour cette exposition. Il décrit sa pièce comme « une ode à cette lutte qui forge le caractère et qui force à innover ».

Outre le thème de la rue et le support intéressant qu’est la planche, Borrrris choisit de s’impliquer pour une seconde fois dans le projet Art Flip pour la cause qu’il représente. En effet, Art Flip supporte le programme skate-étude de l’école secondaire du Triolet de Sherbrooke. Ce programme vise à contrer le décrochage scolaire en permettant aux amateurs de skate de pratiquer leur sport tous les jours et de participer à des compétitions, tout en poursuivant leurs études.

En échangeant avec Borrrris, j’ai découvert un artiste impliqué socialement qui voit dans l’art et le graffiti notamment un outil qui permet de changer les choses, ou du moins, de les mettre en perspective, d’éveiller les consciences. C’est pour cette raison et parce qu’il n’existe encore rien de semblable à cette époque, qu’avec des amis, il fonde le collectif Impair. Au départ, il s’agit d’une gang de chums qui se réunit pour réaliser des murales dans leur communauté. C’est pour eux la façon logique de faire passer leur message, de s’impliquer dans la lutte contre le décrochage scolaire et de sensibiliser les jeunes à la culture du graffiti.

Enfin, c’est un été chargé qui s’annonce pour Borrrris. Avec la belle saison, c’est aussi le retour des projets extérieurs. Il jonglera donc entre murales et projets d’illustration. Il a aussi participé, le 14 mai dernier, à l’exposition de son autre collectif Skinjackin au Candide Café.

Vous pouvez aussi le retrouver sur Facebook, Instagram et son site web.

 

Toutes les images proviennent du site web de Borrrris.

Crossing borders 017: Sabek

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It’s Sunday evening.

I’m browsing the Internet as I usually do (either looking for reference information for upcoming articles or searching for new art to discover) but today, I’m not looking for anything in particular. A gem comes up after a few minutes only, when I fall upon this short text claiming that “any sort of attraction towards any forbidden things do not bring any good result.” The author continues and writes: “Things that are forbidden are forbidden for logical and good reasons.”

Following this logic, we should just all stay in our lanes and conform to societal norms. The only problem is, the world we live in, the one we’ve built for future generations, well, it’s not going all that well. Wars are spreading all around the world, there’s abuse of power everywhere, we’re about to hit a point of no return in global warming… name a problem, the earth has got it.

Fair enough, that’s a pessimistic point of view on life as we know it. However, that’s not the point.

As human beings, we have this tendency to be attracted to things we can’t have, things that are dangerous or are said to be forbidden. This is as true for toddlers as it is for adults. Growing up, our mothers would teach us what we were allowed to do or not, and later in life, we have laws to guide our every move. And while some forbidden things are forbidden for a legitimate reason, I do not agree with the fact that any sort of attraction to these things can’t bring any good result.

Unfortunately, in many cities across the world, painting on the streets is still depicted as an act of vandalism and you get fined for it. But street art and graffiti is a way of expression, just like photography or any other type of art for that matter. Many adult artists started off their career by an urge to stray from the norm and defy the rules. Maybe transgressing norms to express and share a message or a statement to the world is exactly what we need in order to spark discussions amongst each other, open up our eyes and start changing the way we lead our lives…

Or at least, it’s one way to do it.

For Spanish artist Sabek, the attraction and urge to feel the adrenaline rush from doing something against the “law” is the start of what brought him to where he stands now in the street art world: strong, colorful and expressive.

 

[Fresh Paint Gallery]: You started painting at 16, putting up your name on the walls. What drew you to art to begin with?
[Sabek]: I had been attracted to the idea of painting in the streets from a very young age. At first, it was all about the adrenaline of doing something considered to be “forbidden”. I didn’t have a particular style, I was just looking for emotion. Then things slowly began to change…

 

[FPG]: How has your work evolved over the years?
[Sabek]: A lot. At first, I was only looking for a way of expression in the streets. I wasn’t so much interested in the message as the act. With time, I have become more interested in the content and shape of the message. What I have lived and my own experiences have enriched my work, and have made it evolve.

 

[FPG]: Do you see street art as a reactionary space to open social or political discussions or is it more a personal process?
[Sabek]: The simple act of painting in the streets is already opening up a debate. It enables you to own a space that is usually only accessible to big brands that pay for advertising. They bombard us with messages and information, and you make that space yours, democratizing the streets, conquering spaces for free expression and opening up new possibilities.

 

[FPG]: Could you elaborate on what kind of purpose street art has for you?
[Sabek]: Everything that I live is represented in my work. Sometimes it is more personal, other times it is related to what is happening around me.

 

[FPG]: How would you feel about someone claiming that there are connections between the personal, social and political spheres when it comes to art? What’s your opinion on the matter?
[Sabek]: In my opinion, street art has the power to democratize, to open up public spaces to free expression. It generates questioning and debate. It is important to distinguish it from neomuralism, they are very different things. Art represents our environment from a subjective point of view. So if I am asked whether the personal, the social and the political are related I would say of course, because all these aspects are related within us.

 

[FPG]: What would you consider being the biggest life changing experience throughout your street art career? Can you tell me about it?
[Sabek]: It was definitely in a festival in Kathmandu. I painted a large wall with practically no materials. The locals did not understand what I was doing, I was hanging from a rope, it was my first large wall. The place and context were very special for me and it was a very powerful experience.

 

[FPG]: In your opinion, what differenciates Madrid’s street art and graffiti from anywhere else in the world?
[Sabek]: Street art and graffiti in Madrid is crude, passionate, honest and simple. It is not so much directed to gaining fame or money, as it is to free expression.

 

[FPG]: What kind of relationship do Madrid street artists have with authorities?
[Sabek]: Apart from a few emerging projects, tolerance in Madrid has been zero for a long time. Fines can reach up to 3.000 € for a tag.

 

[FPG]: Pieces and murals tend to get buffed or painted over relatively fast in North America. Is the scene in Madrid very competitive and fast-paced? What’s the reality like?
[Sabek]: Painting is abundant and quick in Madrid. There is plenty of talent and very good weather, which enables public spaces to be constantly filled up with works from different people.

 

[FPG]: Alternative galleries can be a great way of promoting urban culture as a main goal and to present the best of emerging artists. How well would a project of this sort be welcomed in Madrid? Is there any existent street art dedicated galleries for a street artist to showcase his art?
[Sabek]: There are some galleries that work with urban artists, but they are not strictly dedicated to show urban art. Swinton and Grant is a good example of emerging galleries that try to promote urban artists.

 

[FPG]: What are some of your upcoming projects?
[Sabek]: Some traveling and a lot of painting!!!

© All pictures courtesy of Sabek.

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Sabek is a talented street artist based in Madrid who plays with elements and figures inspired by nature, representing an imaginary world through a personal, open and free approach.

Crossing borders 016: Anthony Lewellen

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I like to think of the act of writing as a constant flow of unexpected, unannounced and raw ideas. More even, ideas that always sound like they can provide you a breakthrough, or even just greater your audience. Realistically though, the gap between that idea and what is poured with ink on a sheet of paper is often so great that many get discouraged, put the pen down and drift away from what they thought would be easy.

When I first pitched the idea of Crossing borders to my editor and manager, there a hint of fear I couldn’t speak to international artists as easily as I intended to, but I was determined to make that soon-to-be-born column my stepping stone to a writing career -so to speak. It was never about making it perfect on my first attempt; style and themes change and grow. It was much rather about making sure I gave myself some time to progress. That, to me, was -and still is- all that matters. Little did I know, a year and a half flew by bringing me here, at Crossing borders’ 16th edition. I present you Anthony Lewellen, an innovator within the pantheon of Midwest graffiti culture, a man of wisdom whose message is all about self-enlightenment and moving towards life fulfillment.

 

[Fresh Paint Gallery]: You were born, raised and still live in Chicago, a city that has had a central role in America’s economic, social, cultural and political history. With a “sink or swim” point of view on life in the big city, what makes Chi-Town so unique and appealing to you in terms of inspiration?
[Anthony Lewellen]: Chicago is an interesting place for sure. It’s one of the biggest cities in the country, but feels like a small town in many ways. It has a very unique sensibility, making it much different than the east or west coast. There is something about the Midwest that is very grounded and practical. I imagine my perspective on it is somewhat unique in that I was born here, so it’s perhaps inevitable that I take a bit of it for granted.

Most of what inspires my work is just intuitive and comes out of absorption and observation. It is easy to derive metaphors from things we see happening around us. Those things happen without the intent to create or mirror other meanings, they just happen, but if you pay attention, you see meaning in these things. If you are born in a place and lived there all your life, it is inherently a part of you as much as you are a part of it. When I’m out, I just see things that I find compelling. I don’t think about it too much, I just know that it’s interesting to me. I take all that in and later it comes out in my work. I would not go so far as to say that I try to be a conduit, but in some ways, it’s true. If anything, it’s like being a conduit with a filter on each end; only letting certain things in, then processes and lets certain things out. In a lot of ways, I think just getting to work is the best thing. Often inspiration is the result of the commitment to work and not the other way around. That might be a Midwest thing, I’m not sure, but my studio practice has over the last few years very much become more focused on a disciplined approach to creating.

 

[F.P.G.]: In 1993, you were interviewed for the Chicago Slices Raw: CTA graffiti contest in which you claimed graffiti was the youngest and truest art form. Do you still feel the same way about graffiti? How so?
[A.L.]: To say that a lot has changed since 1993 would be a tremendous understatement. The world is a very different place now and within that massive context, the relatively tiny culture of graffiti has changed as well. Now it’s also almost necessary to also include the term street art in there as well. For better or worse, there is an overlap between the two and many don’t really understand the nuanced difference between them, but they exist in the same world now.

It’s hard to say for sure what I was trying to articulate with that statement I made over 20 years ago, but what I think I meant was that it was an art form that was still on the outskirts: it had not been monetized or commercially co-opted as cultural cache. There was a bit of that at the time, but for the most part, it was unsanctioned and unrecognized. If you were doing it [graffiti], then you were doing it because you loved to do it, not because you saw it as a springboard for something else.

For me as for a lot of kids growing up in the city in poor neighborhoods, it was something that you could define and create that resonated with the world in which you lived in. It made sense because it was a product of the environment. It made sense to me as a city kid with creative inclinations and there were so many things about it that clicked. It was an authentic culture -or subculture- and the connoisseurs were for the most part the ones who were also the creators. You were taking paint that was made to paint chairs and bikes or whatever and using it in a way it was never intended for. You had to hunt downs caps and steal paint because either you couldn’t afford it or were not old enough to buy it.

I was all very raw, but it’s not like that now. It’s different in almost every way. I can’t say if it is for better or worse. The same happens with so many things once there is a significant commercial interest. The motivation becomes mixed. That might just be my perspective on it, but when I see a $10 can of spray paint branded specifically for graffiti/street artists and graffiti based reality shows popping up, it’s pretty obvious that the culture has changed. You can tell when people do it because they care about what they do and when they just like the label or want to cash in. It can still be an authentic expression; it really depends on individual motives. The waters just got muddier.

[F.P.G.]: What would you describe as being the key defining moment in your art career?



[A.L.]: That’s an interesting question. I don’t think I ever really thought of myself as actually having a career; that is probably more a reflection of my life growing up. Even though it is how I make a living and support my family, I just consider myself a working artist. I make work, look for opportunities to share that work and then I work some more. As cliché as it sounds, I consider my whole life as a journey and a big part of that is to always move forward. There are lots of defining moments along the way, but many of them are quite small and for me, mostly internal. If anything, a truly defining moment was when I decided how I was going to define success as an artist. At some point, I realized that if success was going to be defined by external validation as in opportunities, accolades, etc., then I would be subjected to the inevitable ups and downs that they would bring. So I made the conscious choice to anchor myself to something else. For me, that is to create work that I think is good, sharing it and being able to make a living doing that. If anything else comes as a result of that pursuit that’s great, but if it doesn’t, I am not defined by that.

 

[F.P.G.]: Have some of your philosophical, political beliefs or guiding principles changed over time? What impact did you see it have on your artwork?



[A.L]: I’m definitely more philosophical than political. Although to be fair, I’m sure it’s my personal philosophies that move me away from politics. To answer your question directly, I would have to say yes of course. I believe that if we are not constantly examining what we think and what we feel then it isn’t possible to move forward or grow as a human being.

 

[F.P.G.]: Could you elaborate some more on the connection between personal and social awareness when it comes to art?


[A.L]: For me, this is something that I’m always trying to understand better and in particular how it relates to my work. It’s rare for me to intentionally try to explore things in my work as what I create relates to my personal experiences or things going on in our society, but as a being that lives and feels, it is impossible that these things will not become part of who you are and what you do. Most of what I do is purely intuitive. I breathe in and I breathe out. What surprises me is how much of what I feel, sense and process comes out in my art.

 

[F.P.G.]: I fell upon one of Greek writer Nikos Kazantzakis’ quotes: “Since we cannot change reality, let us change the eyes which see reality.” How would you describe your personal artistic outlook on life?



[A.L.]: I actually think you can change reality and a big part of that is how you see and understand the reality in which you exist. I’m not sure I have an outlook on life that could be easily defined. As an artist, I always try to understand what is going on around me. For me, a big part of creating is an attempt in some ways to do that— to understand more about myself and the world I live in. Once you create something, you can step back and ask questions. Human beings are highly complicated things; we process and understand so much unconsciously and those things become part of who we are and we hardly know how or why. One of the amazing things about being an artist is that you can put something out there that may tell you more about yourself than you knew. If you were not making art, how else would that happen?

 

[F.P.G.]: Your project “52 Weeks” came to an end last January. Street art and graffiti’s popularity has considerably risen among people around the world, partly thanks to social media. How did you find the experience of having this project grow through online presence rather than putting up a mural and creating an impromptu conversation with a passerby? What did you like the best and least about the process?



[A.L.]: Over the last few years, I have intentionally created yearlong projects that were documented daily on social media. 52 Weeks was one of those and prior to it was Drawing A Day. Initially, it was just to share my work and have some accountability in my creative process. It ended up becoming almost an extension of what I love so much about working in the public spectrum in the way it engaged people and created conversations. It became a great way to parallel what happens in the street in some respects. Technology has made some pretty interesting things possible and I’m looking forward to take advantage of the ability to live stream and building some projects around that. The best thing about it was allowing people into my process, so they see what goes into creating my work and being accountable of doing something consistently with an audience. If there was a thing I liked least, it was managing the pressure to perform- so to speak. From the beginning, I accepted I would have to learn to do that to contend with taking on a project of that nature, but it would have a way of getting into my thinking from time to time, when really, all I wanted was to focus on the work.

[F.P.G.]: Your first published book “Process” offered the reader an examination of your artwork practice. “A Slow Chipping Away”, is currently in the works. What is it about? When might it be released?

[A.L.]: “A Slow Chipping Away” might be my personal artistic outlook on life. As a book, it is something that is still being developed. It might actually end up being a short film. The overall idea behind it is diligence as it relates to the creative process, but also as a larger metaphor for how I have come to understand how life must be lived. It’s rooted in the principle that seemingly impossible things are really an ongoing series of very small possible things, that when taken on consistently over time, culminate in something greater than the sum of its parts. Originally, it was going to be centered on the daily drawing project and the work that came out of it, but I realized there was more to it than that. It might take a few more years for it to fully come together. It’s still unfolding.

 

[F.P.G.]: What are some of your other upcoming projects?



[A.L.]: Right now, I’m in the middle of working on a short film that centers around drawing, the impact that it had on my life and how it relates to what I do now. I’ve also just begun a new year-long project called 12 Months where I create one large scale piece a month using the same documentation process as the last few years’ projects. It’s a continuing escalation of time and scale. I’m in the planning stages of working with the School of The Art Institute of Chicago and students from the west side of the city sometime this summer. I’m also trying to put together a few mural projects in the Albany Park neighborhood where I live. There are a few group shows coming up that I’m in and some residencies on the horizon. Other than that, just studio work and keeping the lights on.


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Born and raised in Chicago, Anthony Lewellen is a multidisciplinary artist, recognizable by his simple, bold, often pensive and compelling characters. He is a figure within the city’s graffiti culture and keeps “building upon a highly personalized vocabulary”. Though Lewellen is now solely focused on a studio practice, he has worked commercially as an illustrator and art director for more than a decade.

Charles Acek, des murs aux trains

Sa première bombe aérosol à la main, Charles Acek, originaire de la Rive Sud, s’est aventuré dans une patinoire puis a peint son premier graff. De la patinoire aux usines désaffectées, des ponts aux trains, depuis décembre 2010, il ne s’arrête plus. Sa passion pour le graffiti ferroviaire, son goût pour la peinture sur toile ainsi que son œil pour la photographie en font un artiste à plusieurs facettes. Ayant participé à la deuxième édition d’Artflip plus tôt dans l’année, à Sherbrooke, il expose cette fois-ci jusqu’au 30 avril à la Galerie Fresh Paint pour la première édition montréalaise de l’événement, aux côtés d’une cinquantaine d’artistes.

 

Fresh Paint – Qu’est-ce qui a déclenché ton désir de passer du dessin papier au mur et à t’aventurer dans un terrain abandonné, bombe aérosol à la main, la première fois ? Tu graffes depuis combien de temps ?
Charles Acek – On dessinait tout le temps dans la famille. Mon frère m’a inspiré, il dessine beaucoup, par pur plaisir. Puis, un jour ma mère m’a offert ma première bombe aérosol et je suis allée me promener.
Mon premier graffiti était sur une patinoire, ensuite des murs. Au début, j’en faisais avec un ami graffeur. Depuis un peu plus de 5 ans, je graffe sur la Rive Sud et Montréal : des usines abandonnées, des ponts, des trains…

FP – Que ressens-tu quand tu es seul dans un lieu isolé et que tu t’apprêtes à créer à l’abri de tout
regard ?
CA –
Parfois, je peins pendant 10h et d’autres fois très rapidement. Mon moteur c’est la satisfaction de
réussir ce que je fais, l’action de peindre et mélanger les couleurs, également l’adrénaline qui embarque. Lorsque je graffe, l’espace devient une zone de pensée libre, un lieu d’évasion où se créé un moment de détente.

FP – T’arrives t-il de participer à des murales collectives ?
CA – Pour les trains, je créé avec le collectif de graffeurs AM (All Metal) et le collectif multidisciplinaire N2N (“End to end” : de l’extrémité à une autre du train). Pour les murales, je graffe avec Crane, N2N, 203, Naimo et Lyfer. Il y a plusieurs cliques, on rencontre toujours beaucoup de gens.

FP – Quelle dimension l’anonymat donne à ton art ?
CA – Je ne me suis jamais vraiment caché de dire qui j’étais. Je signe avec mon nom de graffeur qui est différent de mon nom complet car il représente une partie de ma vie comme artiste de rue, mon cheminement en tant qu’Acek. Toutefois, je souhaite m’identifier et être présent.
C’est une tune de Dr. Dre qui m’a inspirée à choisir le pseudonyme “Charles Acek” : “You try to be the king but the Ace is back“.

Painting

 

FP – Tu es un artiste éclectique, en quoi se différencie ton processus créatif selon que tu t’apprêtes à peindre sur un mur, de la toile ou à faire de la photographie ?
CA – L’environnement est ce qui différencie ma façon de créer selon que je peins sur des murs, sur de la toile ou que je photographie. J’aimerais que les gens puissent regarder les trains que je graffe comme les toiles que je réalise. Je veux exploiter le figuratif, pousser le graffiti de façon aussi approfondie que la peinture sur toile, faire de l’art abstrait aussi bien sur les trains que dans la rue et sur des toits.
La photographie, j’en faisais avant de créer avec une bombe aérosol, puis j’ai commencé à immortaliser mes graffiti en les photographiant soit au complet, soit en partie en mode close-up pour mettre en avant un détail.
Quand je graffe sur des trains de marchandises, je m’inspire de la peinture sur toile et j’aime le lettrage structuré et volumineux, exploiter les textures, créer des connexions et des effets. J’ai l’impression que j’embellis le train. J’aimerais rendre le graffiti accessible aux gens.
Lorsque je créé une toile ou une photographie, j’aime sous-entendre le graffiti, qu’il ne soit pas le sujet principal de l’œuvre mais qu’il demeure présent d’une autre manière.

FP – De quelle façon souhaiterais-tu que ton avenir artistique évolue ?
CA – Je veux m’investir dans l’art montréalais. Mes projets et souhaits pour le futur : une exposition personnelle avec des toiles en grand format, une exposition collective avec des amis du street art et d’autres artistes que j’apprécie. J’aimerais vraiment créer des événements autour de l’art de rue, mêler des shows de hip hop au graffiti et encourager l’art en réunissant des artistes de styles différents. Je souhaite organiser un festival d’art de rue sur la Rive Sud durant l’été.

 

Futur Lasor Now reflects on his exhibition Futur Politics Now

Futur Lasor Now is a MTL Based artist who made quite an impression at the Fresh Paint Gallery with his latest exposition. He was nice enough give me a quick interview about his latest work and him-self

Fresh Paint: Where did you get your name from?

Futur Lasor Now: I’ve always been obsessed by lazors, for as far as i can remember, I’ve always been working with those. At first it was major lazor or something like that but the this other guy went viral so i had to change it to something else. At the time was working for this company who was making a lot coupons saying stuff like ‘’start saving now’’ so i decided to snatch an ‘’now’’ out of it. It got a lot of people confused but I loved it and it stayed over the years kind of a mantra.

FP: What made u go from the bird to the politicians?

FLN: I read a lot and I’m always interested by current events; just like a lot of artist, I’m influenced by what I’m exposed to. But the original idea emerged from Turtle Caps, he’s the one who curated me to do this. One of the goals of the exposition was to give a base knowledge about the political game that’s going on and the players that are shaping it. Make it accessible to the people that are misinformed, or just don’t care: which is like another huge part of the population. And that’s when that type of work becomes really interesting because it feels like you’re awakening people to what’s going on or at least shaking them up. I used to be apathetic for many years, because, in some way, I thought that ignorance was bliss. But now, we’re getting to a point where whether you want it or not it’s going to affect you. So you either sleep on it and let things happen or you take action.

As for the birds, well I’ll keep on drawing them so the can keep evolving and move forward. Its kinda exciting that they will grow because to me I’m always learning, I still kinda feel like that especially when it comes to drawing and painting.

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FP: Could you tell us more about your creative process?

FLN: In street art it all comes in phases. For instance now that spring is coming I have all the ideas that have been floating in my head during the winter that need to be filtered out.

I usually have a bunch of ideas that be nagging at me to the point that I need to get them out so I can breath again, for a while, until I get the next idea and then the process starts all over again. But I find it very pleasurable. It keeps me balanced and happy. That’s just how I move with my art, one idea after the other. Sometimes nothing comes out of it but that’s part of it too.

FP: How would you define that process?

FLN: Well the world is not a perfect place, if it was there wouldn’t be any graffiti or anything like that. People feel all kinds of different ways that they need to express, so they use art as canvas. I see it as a real representation of where you are, a real representation of the world. Like not just the clean parts of the city where you only see ads kinda like in a magazine which is nice, but its not real. I don’t think I’m the only one who thinks like that, a lot people will relate to an art show when its based on a real story or communicate real values because its engaging than something that was just made up, and that’s because art painting never lies. If you feel a certain way it will automatically be reflected in your painting. I don’t think it’s a bad thing, for instance you have some sad painting that are very beautiful and the other way around. As humans we’re are these gambits of emotion, so you cannot fake it you are really expressing yourself. It has to be natural.

FP: I really liked the Stephen Harper in terminator’s mode painting from the latest exhibition. Could you tell more about it?

FLN: Well Stephen Harper is a big motivator in my art because he’s constantly doing things that drive me insane. Apparently, he never eats or drink in public so that no non-flattering pictures of him would be taken while he’s doing it or never answers a question that’s hasn’t been reviewed before by him or his staff. I once saw these pictures of robot men which reminded me of him because of all these things that were always super prepared that which kinda feels robotic.12966208_1019213368157776_1633063300_n

FP: Politics is delicate subject to treat. Did you get any feedbacks from someone that might’ve been offended by your work? 

FLN: Well I think that here in Montreal, people are pretty cynical when it comes to politics. During the electoral campaign I was doing things on election signs and people were loving it. Whenever I do something like this people will be down with it or they will simply just not care.

But it is true that politics is not a super popular thing to talk about in art. Nowadays people rather have something nice and generic that won’t rug them in the wrong way.

FP: How do you feel about that?

FLN: Well that’s how the world is right now. When you have a platform you tend to use it as commercial space that will attract people and make money off it. But there are spaces where you’ll be given carte blanche so you can freely express your opinions, but you’ll still have to fight for those, as most of the time people just want a visually aesthetic thing. Because those others subject kinda make them uncomfortable: most of us don’t want to have this discomfort in our lives, which is why we choose to ignore some very important facts.
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FP: How do you handle the pressure that one can endure when debuting in the art industry?

FLN: Well when I first started doing street art, nobody really knew anything about what I was doing and to me that was kinda fun. Because I was just experimenting different stuff and it didn’t really matter then, and it still doesn’t really matter. But now whenever I put things up, people will tag it and put my name on it. So I’ve got to think about how it’s going to be perceived. But its part of the game although it shouldn’t control what you do in a way that you would stop trying and experimenting new stuff and keep you from expressing yourself. Rather than seeing it as a restrain, you should see it as a privilege. I think that when an artist, all of a sudden gets a lot of attention he instantly realized that everything he does will be noticed. He will obviously be affected by the attention he draws. Sometimes it’s positive but sometimes it has negative side effects. But I really think it depends on the person and how you let it affect you. Some people strive on it and it pushes them to move forward.

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Crossing borders 015: Dourone

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I don’t know if any of you have watched the television show Mr. Robot. In short, it’s about a young, anti-social computer programmer Elliot, who leads a double life as a cybersecurity engineer and vigilante hacker. Eliot’s psychotherapist has some idea about his anti-establishment hacker ethic, and questions him:

“What is it about society that disappoints you so much?”

Eliot’s response is telling:

“Oh I don’t know. Is it that we collectively thought Steve Jobs was a great man even when we knew he made billions off the backs of children? Or maybe it’s that it feels like all our heroes are counterfeit; the world itself’s just one big hoax. Spamming each other with our burning commentary of bullshit masquerading as insight, our social media faking as intimacy. Or is it that we voted for this? Not with our rigged elections, but with our things, our property, our money. I’m not saying anything new. We all know why we do this, not because Hunger Games books makes us happy but because we wanna be sedated. Because it’s painful not to pretend, because we’re cowards. Fuck Society.”

A pessimistic view of society to say the least. But some underlying truths hit hard. Our political systems are surreal enough to entertain cartoonish xenophobes while the incidence of bomb attacks provide the all-too-real-backdrop for political theatre. For what cause do both of these phenomena occur? It’s always “us” against “them”. History convulses in violence and irony whenever it repeats itself like this.

Personally, it’s all too depressing for me. This encompasses too much pain. I like street art and graffiti. It makes me smile and reflect on many subjects, especially when the murals are charged with politics and emotion, with a very immediate interventionism and social realism. Art is beautiful for these reasons, has a great reactionary power in these dialogues, brings people together by rendering stark truths. Like Elliot’s ‘Fuck Society’, street art is as nourishing as it is true.

Since 2012, street artist Dourone forms a team and travels with Elodieloll. Their project is to bring “Art For The People” in various countries. Sometimes, the work is black and white, sharply silhouetted and message-driven. Other times vibrantly-colored murals, geared toward respect, inclusivity and freedom.

 

[FP]: I’ve picked up from past interviews that your background is carpentry, painting, decorations, sets, digital and graffiti. You now have a very defined style. What got you in the visual arts industry to begin with?
[DOURONE]: I have been interested in drawing ever since my childhood, so I started at a very young age. I started graffiti later, at the age of 14. The carpentry part is because all his life, my father has been dedicated to making inventions, and I have learned watching and helping him. My first job was in that kind of environment and then I started to work on movie sets. Quickly after that, I started to look for jobs painting shops or decorating interiors for both companies and private customers. Ultimately, I was always doing manual and artistic stuff. I am not afraid to learn that’s why I have tried different things and am still learning a lot!

 

[FP]: What do you recall from your first experience going out to paint murals?
[DOURONE]: My first experience was actually going out to paint as part of a crew and not going out to paint murals on my own. My crew and I used to paint a mural once a month. At first I was with AK crew, then STA crew and my last crew was GNX, but I have had the same experience with all those crews: going out at night to paint on any day of the week, and then on weekends go to a quiet place and paint a mural together. The night painting experience was filled with adrenaline and the murals were more about enjoying myself with my friends.

 

[FP]: Nowadays, you are working as a team with Elodieloll. How exactly do you work things out as a duet? Generally speaking, who does what and how has your art perspective and vision changed from the time you would paint solo?
[DOURONE]: We both have our roles, but it’s a bit fuzzy because I’m the person who creates and draws. Still, Elodieloll’s opinion is very important. Then she takes care of the business and the communication, but my opinion is important too! So we have a balance between each other that I describe like this: 1+1=3. My vision has not changed since we started working as a team, but it has evolved. I have learned to work with a partner.

 

[FP]: You have had your work exhibited in many parts of the world. How do you choose your destinations? What attracts you to one country more than another?
[DOURONE]: I choose very few destinations, usually the destination chooses me! Each country gives me something special that other countries can’t give me and that’s why it is so rewarding to paint all over the world.

 

[FP]: What has been your favorite location to paint at and what would you consider being your most important accomplishment?
[DOURONE]: I don’t have a favorite location to paint at, but I have had some better experiences than others. It is not a matter of location, but a matter of what happens. There are several things I did that I am proud of, but one in particular -and it is still an honor- is a mural registered with the city of Los Angeles. They put a special coating on a mural we did downtown L.A in 2015 and now no one can touch it, neither change anything about it without my permission. That means this mural will be preserved forever!

 

[FP]: Has a country’s history, socio-political or socio-economical context ever influenced your art? For example, Spain is currently in a state of political uncertainty after a split result in the last elections. If you were in Madrid and out to paint, would you speak your mind through the reactionary space that street art creates? What kind of purpose does street art have for you?
[DOURONE]: Of course! What happens in the world influences my art because one of the things that inspires me is the conversations I have with people. At the same time, I never claim one thing in particular for a particular country. My claim is more universal; I try to show values that are important to me.

 

[FP]: What would you consider being the biggest challenge you have had to face throughout your arts career? How did you overcome it?
[DOURONE]: The challenges are all the goals that I impose myself, and that is part of my evolution. I do not call them challenges, but experiences.

 

[FP]: You describe your art as “Sentipensante”, and have expressed that this way of expressing yourself cleared things up in your mind as to how you see your art. What train of thought or event made you choose to depict strong values such as respect, diversity and freedom in your art?
[DOURONE]: It mainly comes from the education I was given, which taught me the basics. Then I think I have had a very happy childhood filled with enough of those three values. However, as I get older I realize that I have to represent those values for them not to be forgotten by all of us.

 

[FP]: In your opinion, what makes Madrid’s street art and graffiti scene unique?
[DOURONE]: I do not know if I should limit it to Madrid, but I can say that there is a fairly powerful and a worldwide recognizable level in Spain.

 

[FP]: What are some of your upcoming projects?
[DOURONE]: I currently have many mural projects, but this year I want to think more about creating artwork on collectible support.

 

© Photos courtesy of Dourone & Elisaloll.

Dourone | Website | FB | IG

Spanish street artist Dourone is a self-proclaimed Creative Nomad travelling and painting the world. Born and raised in Madrid, he started his career with graffiti in 1999, painting shop fronts and interiors. He describes his style as “sentipensante”: a contraction of the words “feeling” and “thinking”, a style created by Uruguayan journalist and writer Eduardo Galeano. Influenced by artists like M. C. Escher, Mohlitz Philippe, Jean Giraud “Moebius” and Giovanni Battista Piranesi, he combines graphic illustration and surrealism sometimes using black and white, other times colored lines and vectors in conceptual art.

ARTFLIP: le skateboard comme support créatif

Comment réunir dans un espace unique : les beaux-arts, le graffiti, le tatouage, l’illustration, la bande-dessinée, le graphisme, le muralisme ? En un mot : ARTFLIP. À partir du 1er avril, la galerie Fresh Paint accueillera l’exposition, réunissant une cinquantaine d’artistes hétéroclites du monde des arts visuels, autour d’un fil conducteur.
Le skateboard s’habille de médiums et textures variés, avec du vécu ou intact, et dans des styles susceptibles de toucher des publics différents. Il y en aura pour tous les goûts ! Quelques noms : Opire, Scribe CSX, Bonar, Éric Dufour, Mc Baldassari, Borrrris, Pierre Nicolas-Rioux, Dewey Guyen, Marc Sirus, Cara Cole, Produkt, Axe…
Au tout début de l’aventure, en voyant les planches de skate usées, brisées, de ses élèves, l’idée de leur donner une seconde vie a germé dans l’esprit de Clôde Beaupré, enseignant et sculpteur sherbrookois. En collaboration avec Arnold, artiste illustrateur multidisciplinaire, l’exposition inauguratrice se déroule courant 2015 au centre communautaire et culturel Françoise-Dunn de Sherbrooke. La seconde édition dans la ville fondatrice, s’achève ce mois-ci.

Artflip fera une halte printanière à Montréal, une première. Arnold, co-curateur de l’exposition nous en parle.

 

Fresh Paint – En début avril, la galerie accueillera la première édition montréalaise d’Artflip, pouvez-vous présenter le projet ? Et, nous en dire plus sur ses racines sherbrookoises ?
Arnold – C’est un regroupement d’artistes issus de domaines différents, qui ont tous pour point commun : la planche de skate comme support artistique. À l’origine, l’idée est née de Clôde Beaupré. Enseignant et sculpteur, il a fondé le programme de skate-études à l’école secondaire du Triolet, à Sherbrooke. Dans le but de faire échec au décrochage scolaire, le programme incite les élèves à obtenir de bonnes notes en permanence, en y associant le plaisir de la pratique du skate au quotidien.
Progressivement, Clôde Beaupré a commencé à récupérer les planches de skate usées et brisées, puis s’est demandé pourquoi ne pas en faire une exposition au centre communautaire et culturel Françoise-Dunn.
Moi, je connaissais le centre, on y exposait parfois des toiles avec des amis, dont certains ont participé par la suite au projet Artflip.

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FP – Quels domaines artistiques seront représentés à Montréal ?

Arnold – Cette année, l’exposition Artflip sera pour la première fois à Montréal et on y présentera les œuvres d’une cinquantaine d’artistes. Il y aura environ 70 pièces conçues par des créateurs de domaines artistiques aussi variés que : l’illustration, le graphisme, le tatouage, le graffiti, le street-art, les beaux-arts, la BD…
Un pourcentage de la recette des œuvres vendues au cours de l’événement, sera reversé au programme de skate-études, tout comme lors des deux éditions précédentes à Sherbrooke.

FP – Pourquoi avez-vous choisi le skateboard comme support à la création ?
Arnold – La planche de skate est capable d’unir beaucoup de monde, puis il y a une petite touche de hasard aussi. Les skates usés sont faciles à trouver. Pour le projet Artflip, les planches proviennent du programme de skate-études, aussi des compagnies spécialisées dans cette pratique et des dons de skateurs.

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FP – Comment percevez-vous en tant que co-curateur et artiste participant, le fait que l’exposition “Artflip, le Glitch Artistique” permette de mixer diverses branches des arts visuels dans un espace unique ?
Arnold –
Je pense que c’est super qu’Artflip puisse connecter les personnes, entre les différentes sphères artistiques. D’habitude, le milieu des arts est divisé en sous-catégories et il n’y a pas toujours d’interactions entre les genres et les styles.  Par “Glitch Artistique”, je veux dire que l’exposition est éclectique. Le fait qu’il y ait autant de domaines représentés conduit par exemple, une personne qui vient à la galerie pour voir le tatouage, à découvrir l’illustration. C’est un mélange.

FP – Il y a d’autres événements artistiques autour du skateboard depuis quelques années, en quoi Artflip se différencie des autres expositions ayant aussi pour fil conducteur, la planche de skate ?
Arnold – On laisse une totale liberté aux artistes, il n’y a pas de règles. Ils sont invités à sortir du cadre et peuvent choisir de créer sur un skateboard qui a du vécu, un aspect usé ou au contraire neuf.
Par exemple, un graffeur pourrait décider d’utiliser une planche brisée ou usagée, tandis qu’un illustrateur créerait sur un skate intact. Puis, pendant l’accrochage, on ne juxtapose jamais deux même styles. À côté de l’œuvre d’un tatoueur, il y aurait une pièce d’un autre genre artistique. Et, les planches de skate ne sont pas toutes disposées à la verticale, ni à la même distance l’une de l’autre.

 

Des photos des éditions précédentes :