When I started to explore Montreal a few years ago, with my own very European background, it was a real pleasure to discover the possibility of walking across a city with the feeling of not being in an urban environment. The labyrinth of Montreal’s alleyways is a city in the city, without pollution, whether it was noise, cars, advertising or simply people. And in some of these back alleys, with time, I began to notice some amazing street art and graffiti spots. Several of these evolved, and became very popular, while some others finished to be abandoned by the artists. However, it was always the same pleasure to observe how artists succeeded in transforming places that were not aimed to be street art spots. The one I present below became a regular stop in my street art escapes when Gawd and Waxhead shared a studio 2 years ago and decided to paint the back wall of this place. Then this spring, Nixon, Kazy, Zoltan Veevaete and Kevin Ledo raised the alleyway to the next level by adding some impressive art work. Rapidly tagged, these guys came back in July to fix their pieces. It was also the perfect timing for Zoltan and Ledo to collaborate on a mural they called “Sand White in 3D” (above).
First piece by Waxhead and Gawd, summer 2012:
Following pieces by Nixon, Kazy, Zoltan Veevaete, June- July 2014:
Other pieces of Zoltan V. and Nixon, between June and July 2014:
It’s not really a surprise if I tell you that Labrona is one of my favorite artist in the Montreal art scene… I could probably say he is my favorite. so I am really lucky to have time to catch him on several projects this summer. First, just before the MURAL festival, Fred Caron, Kashink and him collaborated on a mural in Griffintown area. Second, he painted 3 doors during MURAL. Then there is this big wall he painted with Gawd in mid-July (above), and finally a beautiful series of portraits with Monosourcil pasted on the streets in June. Very stunning collaborations! And it’s only the beginning of the summer…
It was action time last week in Montreal with the second edition of MURAL festival. I will talk of the festival more generally in a next post, but today I want to focus on one of the exhibitions that took place in the line-up of the festival: End Orphans, a solo show by Alex Produkt. Actually, I was here in Montreal to assist in organizing this show curated by my friend André Pace, art addict, collector and owner of a private gallery, so I guess that my appreciation is not quite objective as I have been involved in the organization… But this show was a real beauty! Part of the festival, it also provided the opportunity to Alex to have his own wall (above). For me, one of the best events of the show was also the amazing documentary that Ian Lagarde made during the last months, following Alex at work at his studio, in the streets, trying to capture a small part of his soul. The least I can do is to invite you to have a look, and get inspired by one of the purist street artists I’ve ever met.
Even if it’s spring time, the action only really started in the streets of Montreal a few days ago. Aside from some artists who managed to escape the snow for some hot sand, most of them were stuck inside for months, as it has been the coldest winter since 20 years. Even so, street art photographer Space 27 caught some very interesting pieces during the last weeks (like this surprising installation of golden cans, above), that make me think that both spring and summer are going to be explosive in Montreal! I can’t wait to see it in person. Here is the street art work of Labrona, Gawd, Waxhead, Stikki Peaches, Jason Botkin aka KIN, Zola, Tôle, Mono sourcil, and a bunch of artists we expect to identify soon…
In Mexico City, Labrona and Botkin had a lot of fun painting a mural, wheat-pasting and exploring the capital. The mural was done at a school. Labrona said, “It was an amazing place to paint because all the children got to see us painting and maybe some of them will be inspired to try art. Also, when we were painting, the teachers brought there kids out to watch and draw.”
The most spellbinding urban exploration I ever experienced in an doomed place…walking down the streets of this town, the heavy silence all around you, and all the amazing art everywhere on the walls trying to bring back to life the so desperately abandoned and empty houses… Doel is a small town close to Antwerp, in Belgium. Despite a rich history build over several centuries, the government decided in the 1970’s to erase Doel from the map in order to make way for the extension and widening of Antwerp’s port. Despite decades of protests, the residents had no choice but to leave their homes. Some residents proudly continue to resist, but you can presume that the game is over. It’s this mix between human tragedy and beauty of art that made this place so attractive to me. I had a vague idea of the art I would find in the streets, Doel is now an urban art legend, but I never expected to be affected like this! And even if the most of the art has suffered from the passage of time and vandalism, it has been a blast! Here is the work of ROA, Santos, Resto, Psoman, Rotti, Koekoes, Asep, Lastplak, Jiem, 0331c, Show, Bue, Amigo, Reab, Topo, Steaz, Wacks. And more from Doel here.
The first time I returned to Paris after a few years of exile in Montreal, I was very excited by the idea of all the art I’d be able to find on the streets. But I rapidly realized that it would be difficult to hunt street art as I used to in Montreal… not the same art, not the same way to catch it. Paris is very intense, always the same artists, at every street corner, seen hundreds time on blogs, Flickr, instagram, etc… not easy to have the sensation of finding something new… not that I hate these productive artists, I really appreciate some and respect all of them, but I expected something different. So I asked someone that really comes from the streets in this city to give me a private art tour, Lilyluciole. Lucky me! What she showed me is not necessarily new, except a few pieces, but what a pleasure to see some precious artists like Kub, Baubô, Kraken, Kouka, Koleo, Sobre, Hopnn, Le Diamantaire, to see the refreshing pieces of my friend Lilyluciole in Paris, to admire illegal art work by Swoon, Stinkfish, Invader, Mr Chat, to discover some amazing unknown spots, like the rue de l’Ourcq in the north of the city with walls covered by Da Cruz, Batsh, Sly2, Orfée… and some other spots, the Rue Desnoyers, Les Usines Éphémères. So, here is a personal point of view of the streets of Paris, by Lily and me.
Last December, during the famous Art Basel Miami Beach 2013, Troy Lovegates (aka Other) did a stunning mural in Wynwood. Beautiful, always. Rather than describe it or try to explain Troy Lovegates‘ work, I invite everybody to check out the video, and to listen to his own words….Beautiful, always.
Artists in Montreal these days are stuck working in their studios or homes, since the last few weeks have been incredibly cold! So, what follows bellow were mostly done in the fall and early winter. Nearly too cold to paint on walls, Labrona and 500M managed to get outside for a few hours to paint a fresh piece, their first of 2014. Produkt also was very productive on the streets this fall, upping his street art game. And also works by HoarKor, Nixon (old piece, but great location) Gawd, FLN, Waxhead and Cryote. Stay warm.
Actually, before I left for a short trip to Florence, Italy, I didn’t expect to find street art in a city better known for being the birthplace of the Italian Rennaissance. I was looking for Della Robbia, Michelangelo, Lippi, Massolino, and all the other great masters that made this city a real beauty, not urban or contemporary artists. So I was surprised to see all the famous stickers of Clet Abraham at every street corner. Then i found out that the French artist lives in Florence … well, I can understand why!
But that was not the only discovery I made in Florence. My curiosity pushed me to an old abandoned convent in the heart of the city. The whole façade is covered of fake US dollars. it’s an installation that was done by the artist Vaclav Pisvejc the last summer in order to draw attention to the hood of Sant’Orsola convent, and to denounce what he considers to be the negative consequences of capitalism. Great action, that remind us that is necessary to follow artists who use the streets not for their own interests but for the “community”.
All the Clet Abraham’s stickers… (except the last ? not sure it’s a Clet one…)