Goddog is a French artist from Avignon, well-know medieval city in southern France. He started practicing graffiti at a young age, then turned to figurative work that he’s put aside for a moment to achieve more abstract compositions. In time, he began to combine both trends to define a style he calls figurative abstraction. GoddoG takes inspiration from movements like Constructivism, Bauhaus, to create androgynous figures. The narration is never linear, and the dreamlike poetry that emerges encourages multiple interpretations. His hope to allow everyone to build their own story from what he paints on the wall.
The main quality of an artist is to be able to put him always in danger, to be able to renew itself, which GoddoG does successfully again and again. He does not claim a clear way of thinking, socially or politically speaking. He has always painted in order to escape, to dream, to create a comfort zone.
You can see in versatility and passion above the mural he did during the “Cambodia Urban art” Festival in Phnom Penh in March 2016, and following that his work for the French project “Le M.U.R de Bordeaux,” also in March, and a wall painted in Marseille, France, for “la cité des arts”, in February.
Last June, during the 5th edition of Bien Urbain (a Public Art Festival in Besançon, France) the Spanish artist NANO 4814 was invited to participate and paint the mural above. To the great surprise of the organization and the artist, the mural was erased in early December, after a decision by the owner of the building. It’s really discouraging… This festival is organized by a non-profit association that just wants to give artists space to express their art in total freedom. Murals cannot be just decorative, as noted by this press release issued by Bien Urbain (here translated into English for convenience):
On December 3rd, we were shocked to see that Néolia proceeded to erase the mural by Spanish artist NANO 4814, painted in June 2015 at 13 Bouloie Street, as part of the Bien Urbain Festival.
At the beginning of last summer, the landlord organization informed us of their desire to remove the mural, after it an unfortunate interpretation of the piece. We immediately proposed a meeting and went there to talk with residents of the neighborhood. We have obviously not met everyone, but no one we came into contact with on site mentioned any wish to cover up the mural. On the contrary, most liked to see the building embellished by art, as is the case of several buildings in the area. Some people we met had questions about the presence of a knife or a dark veil, which could represent a niqab, others saw a ghost, or a Marsupilami wanting to use a knife to cut the thread that surrounds his friends. NANO 4814 saw a scene symbolizing the difficulty of the artistic act and questions about the relationship between his work and the history of art more broadly. Art is always open to interpretation. In September, Néolia, the building’s owner, asked us to clear the wall. However, our role is to allow artists to intervene in the public space, not erase their work without prior discussion. We had heard no news from the company after that, and only found out on December 3rd that the painting was about to be covered, so neither the artist nor our association were notified beforehand.
We regret this unilateral act of artistic censorship and defend the view that exchange and dialogue are always more fruitful than “sweeping things under the rug.” If this artwork had actually caused arguments (which we have not seen), it would have been more interesting to take the opportunity to discuss, exchange, and confront points of view, rather than give in to fear. “Preventive censorship” has never been positive for “living together.”
It’s hard to not come back to Labrona‘s art. Not only because he is one of my favorite street artists ever, but also because he is one of those who continues to create the same way he has created since the beginning, year after year, for him, on the streets, on trains, with his friends. He continues to work and keeps up his generosity, without paying mind to changes that have disrupted the street art movement lately. For this, he should have the respect of all. Most importantly, he cherishes time spent creating with friends, because to create in the streets is also for him a real opportunity to share a good time with good friends. All the following pieces were done during last summer and fall, in Montreal and Toronto by Labrona with Troy Lovegates, Gawd, Monosourcil, Kim, Kat, Produkt and Mathieu Connery.
“Travel broadens the mind.” Well I really hope that’s true! I had the chance to spend a few days in the Bay area, which gave me another opportunity to continue my favorite activity: urban exploration. As a European, it’s a bit risky to show my own vision of America’s urban environment, and express feelings that could be misunderstood. This time, I had the chance to be guided through San Francisco and Oakland by one of the most talented Canadian street artists, Troy Lovegates, based in San Francisco for the last 2 years, and so have my point of view challenged by an insider of the Bay Area art scene. We left SF for Oakland, went through West Oakland, playground of graffiti writers, reached downtown, with its big murals, passed by Athen B. gallery (where Lovegates was showing in a collaborative group exhibition with Zio Zegler, Jaz and EverSiempre), and ended up in Chinatown. I unfortunately do not have photos of Lovegates’ pieces, as his street art pieces are usually buffed or cleaned super fast. And he still has not had the opportunity to legally paint a wall in the Bay area. But he does not despair! Lovegates had to wait years before getting a wall in Montreal, and finally managed to paint2 murals very late after he left Montreal for Toronto…
In early spring, I had the chance to meet up with Chris Dyer in Ghent, Belgium, while he was visiting the family of his wife, the lovely Valerie. As he regularly spends time in this part of Europe, and in order to avoid getting bored and to take advantage of this time away from Montreal, his home city, he met with the local street artists and ended up collaborating on a bunch of projects. And because Chris is so generous and positive, he naturally became friends with many of them.
For me, it was an opportunity to explore the city with Chris, to get his take on Ghent and see what he’d painted there. Actually, as he said to me, Ghent should be re-named Bue the Warrior City! When you enter Ghent, you see Bue’s art everywhere. Whether it’s illegal or legal pieces, his art covers a multitude of walls and doors… All of it painted in a joyful spirit, yet always controlled.
While we were walking through the city, looking for some cool spots where he used to paint, Chris explained to me how he improved his bombing technique each time he worked with Bue. It’s the same gratitude you can feel when he speaks about his beginnings in Montreal, where he was invited, in the early 2000’s, to join an exhibition organized by the best of the best,Troy Lovegates and Labrona, after he moved from Peru for study illustration in Canada. What a lesson of humility, when you can hear the admiration and respect for his peers by an artist like Dyer! He also told me about his early life in Lima, Peru, where he began tagging as a teenager while he was part of a street gang.
Ghent is a small town compared to bigger neighbors like Brussels, but it appears to be an incredible canvas for Belgium street artists and graffiti writers. ROA is the most well-known among them, as are Dzia, A squid called sebastian, Resto, Bisser, Scarpulla, and of course Bue the warrior, just for named a few.
The Jardin Rouge is an artists’ residency center located in Morocco, near Marrakesh, at the foot of the Atlas Mountains. Created by the Montresso Art Foundation, the idea was to have a place of exchange and creation open only to artists, with no other purpose than seeing them evolve and grow in their creative process. The residency boasts an amazing environment and very comfortable working conditions, and it is open to both well-known and emerging artists. The only requirement is to have talent. And those who have passed through “Le Jardin Rouge” have that in spades! Lucky for us, the owner has a particularly strong passion for urban art, and the residency offers urban artists complete freedom of artistic expression.
It sounds like paradise, and that’s not far from the truth. The photographic work of Bart, from UrbanPresents, makes me fall in love with this place. The landscape, the light, everything is there to sublimate the work of the artists, whether in the park (which covers is 13 hectares!) or inside a building that also serves as an exhibition space.
French artist GoddoG was recently an artist-in-resident at Le Jardin Rouge. In his own words…
It was super welcoming. Le Jardin Rouge is one-of-a-kind. The main purpose of my visit was to deepen my technique on canvas by linking my work on walls with my work on canvas. The 10-week residency helped me develop my technical skills, and allowed me to concentrate on my work while expanding it. In addition, Le Jardin Rouge is a place to meet other artists and exchange opinions, which helped me develop further as an artist and as a critical thinker.
How can one not fall in love with Lisbon! When you walk the streets of this city, in tourist areas or less known places, you see art everywhere. Graffiti, tags, and a diverse array of street art explodes on the walls. Add to all the illegal activity Vhils’ UnderDogs project, and you end up going from surprise to surprise at every street corner.
Lisbon was hit hard by the 2008 economic crisis. As a result, a lot of buildings of the city were abandoned by their owners, quickly enlarging the playground of graffiti and street artists making the city attractive to many international artists.
It’s now a kind of “street art place to be”, which is okay, but you soon find yourself torn between the pleasure of discovering new stunning art pieces and frustration caused by having already seen photos of so many of the murals on the internet. Still, better to share the artwork than not, so here’s some Lisbon street art from Cane Morto, Vhils, Créons, Sumo, Exit-enter, C215, Tinta Crua, Os Gemeos, Kraken, Sam3, Ericailcane, and Mr.chat.
“JE SUIS CHARLIE.” I am sad, I am angry. I am Charlie. These words have became a universal claim against obscurantism and violence, for the freedom of expression, whether written, spoken, or drawn. Cabu, Charb, Wolinski, and Tignous, 4 famous cartoonists, died in the terrorist attack against the office of Charlie Hebdo on January 7th, in Paris. 12 men and woman died in the attack. Since these terrible events occurred, artists and anonymous people spontaneously reacted by pasting, painting, tagging all kind of tributes to cartoonists but also more broadly to diffuse values of brotherhood and respect.
In my turn, I wanted to pay tribute to all of them with some collected pieces displayed by artists and anonymous who expressed their sadness and anger in the walls in Lille, where I am. Especially in moments such as this, anonymous street art is as important as the pieces by more famous artists. The streets are the most honest expression of how our nation is feeling today, a visible emotion which, I hope, will never be forgotten. It’s time to start our duty to remember.
Update from Jef Aerosol piece, finished on January 14th, 2015.
Over the summer, TurtleCaps, an artist originally from Queen, New York but now based in Montreal, organized a massive transformation of an abandoned building in the center of Montreal. “Cabane à Sucre” (“sugar shack”) was an open-air street art gallery. At the beginning, the goal was to produce something that would be set apart from other street art events in Montreal but inspired by (as at hinted in the title of the project) Hanksy’s “Surplus Candy”. Originally, the project was meant to be low-key. It was done in a private courtyard without permission. Midway thru, TurtleCaps realized that the project was the perfect platform to give visibility to some artists that get shut out of galleries and festivals because, “they are not considered cool or famous enough.”
In mid-August he called his close friends up and invited them to paint a dilapidated building hidden in the heart of the city, just for fun. As rumors of the project spread, more and more artists stopped by to join in. According to TurtleCaps, “It was incredible. Credit goes to everyone who took time and money out of their busy schedules to bring this building back to life before its inevitable demise to gentrification.”
That’s how 45 street artists and graffiti writers, but also illustrators and fine artists, collaborated over a 12 days span… doing their art in a 3 level courtyard. “I’ve made some good friends in Montreal, so a cool part of this is throwing these multiple artists that may not know each other, into the same space. To have a fine art painter rocking a wall next to a street bomber and they’re both having a good time, well that’s what it’s all about.”
Of course this is not the first time artists have taken over an abandoned building. The difference here is that TurtleCaps brought in a variety of artists, some that have nothing to do with street art and were painting on walls for the first time. Whether you paint full buildings, are famous in LA or known in Europe, if your work was lacking passion, the “unknown” artist right next was going to show you up. All-stars, ego nor press meant anything for those 12 days in the courtyard. It was just about the art, not fame or money, and that may be why it was such a success.
When I asked Jason Botkin about “Cabane à sucre”, he said, “I consider it a very special project. Its impact on Montreal’s underground art community (including a vastly diverse pool of voices) may not be understood for some time yet to come. I love how it’s drawn so many together, in a very personal and somewhat private way. Above all, I’m impressed by the efforts of TurtleCap to make this an amazing experience for all involved, in a spirit of extreme generosity and inclusiveness. I’m very touch and inspired by this project that he so clearly poured his heart into!”
According to Kevin Ledo, “Cabane à Sucre was a great excuse for me to jam in the same space as a whole bunch of amazing Montreal artists, doing their stuff without restriction. Graff writers, street artists, illustrators, and fine artists, side by side, the result is glorious!”
For Laurence Vallières, “TurtleCaps’ Cabane à Sucre is a group of friends who came together to talk, eat, drink a beer and paint! I ended up there by chance, one evening of ultimate creation. I borrowed a brush and some colors and set to work. I met new people and shared my artistic visions. Some were painting on a wall for the first time. TurtleCaps chose the artists based on his friendship more than his artistic tastes, and the result is impressive. There is nothing more communal and underground than that.”
Alex Produkt shares the same feeling. “It was a fun opportunity to paint in a cool hidden courtyard and hang out with a bunch of other Montreal street artists in close quarters, drinking, eating, painting, laughing together.”
Lilyluciole has a very personal vision and interesting analysis on the project. “I agree with the approach of TurtleCaps and I think some of the press has misunderstood it. Highlighting the exclusive featured works by announcing that you will never see this show was bad information from some journalists. Instead, we must speak of the desire of the organizer to create a unitary project. I wanted to join this idea. I think it was generous to offer this possibility of collaboration to artists who do not often or never get to meet. There were graffiti, street artists, sticker addicts and even artists who have never painted outside. This attitude goes against the trend of some Montreal’s people who create divisions such as those between graffiti and street artists. That makes no sense. In fact, I think it’s totally out as this art expression does not require contempt or violence. I hope other initiatives such as this one will continue to emerge in various forms.”
Artists involved: Adida Fallen Angel, Alex Produkt, Alysha Farling, Andy Dass, Anna Van Stuijvenberg, Antoine Tava, Axe Lamine, Bonar, Citizen, EtherTFB, FiftyTwoHZ, Futur Lasor Now, Fred Caron, Grazyna Adamska-Jarecka, HoarKor, Homsik, IAmBatman, Il Flatcha, Jason Botkin, Jonathan Himsworth, Kevin Ledo, Kizmet, Labrona, Laurence Vallières, Lilyluciole, Lina Kretzschmar, MAbstrakt, Mc Baldassari, MissMe, Ms. Teri, Okies, Pascale Lamoureux-Miron, Philippe Mastrocola, Stela, TurtleCaps, Tyler Rauman, Valerie Bastille, WaxHead, X-Ray, and EnMasse featuring Cheryl Voisine, Cyndie Belhumeur, Jeremy Shantz, Julien Deragon, Laurence Sabourin and Raphaël Bard.
From May to mid-July, Mathieu Connery aka 500M painted several murals on sidewalks for the second MURAL festival edition. To the frequency of 1 per week, he did 10 abstract murals on the Main, the Saint-Laurent Boulevard, official location of the festival. Guess the organizers really liked the 3 sidewalks murals he painted last year for the first edition of MURAL, as they asked him to enlarge his project this year. The Montreal based artist is well known in the city for his minimalist abstract pieces, “I try to make most of my interventions interact in different ways with the environment, to inspire appropriation of the public space in any other way. It also applies in the streets with concrete, tags that were there before,etc…” I just hope that one day he will get a real wall rather than always sidewalks in Montreal!
And for my own pleasure, a street art piece found this summer, and then a tag of Gawd Mathieu Connery appropriated. Thanks Mister 500M !