13 –  Kashink number of luck!

On the beginning of my first Parisian autumn, yesterday I went to Le M.U.R to check on Kashink artistic performance. Women are quite rare on street-art world, so it was wonderful to meet someone like her. Wearing a t-shirt with a work of Jean-Michel-Basquiat, an atypical mustache in her delicate face and distributing  sincere smiles for everybody make her performance even special to the audience appreciating her hands sliding with spray cans in sweet colors drawing her unmistakable characters.

Kashink performance at Le M.U.R

Kashink paints huge protean figures with multiple eyes, men mostly, or skulls in Mexico, all in a colorful graphic style, away from traditional references of female graffiti. She is inspired by Frida Kahlo, the Bad Painting Basquiat and Keith Haring .  Among the themes that are usual to her, there are taboo subjects in our society, such as homosexuality, women’s status, or death.

Kashink work in progress at Le M.U.R

In this painting on Le M.U.R she putted the number 13 as the third eye of her character, her number of luck, she explained me. She also wrote the phrase  “Okay Mom I will”, which for her is the story about a Mom concerning with his son and his response boring but positive.  What she really like, is when people look for her drawings in a way to stimulating their creativity and create their own stories.

Kashink performance at Le M.U.R

Kashink performance at Le M.U.R

Kashink performance at Le M.U.R

Kashink performance at Le M.U.R

Kashink

Le M.U.R is always a friendly place to meet friends and lovers for street-art. A meeting point to review special people and also exchange about urban art.  I guess Kashink painted for more than 8 hours in total the huge panels of 6x4m. I enjoyed 3 hours of her work after been chilled by the cold  autumn sensation on the air.  Sadly I left before she finished the work yesterday, then I came back this morning to take pictures of the work.

Kashink work in progress this morning

Kashink work in progress this morning

Kashink – “Okay Mom I will”

Thanks to a  beautiful surprise from the Universe, this morning, while writing this article beside Le M.U.R at Charbon Café I met Kashink again finishing the work that was supposed to be finished yesterday.  I had the pleasure to talk with her again and have her explanation about this work. I asked her to sign my bike and as always, smiling she gave me this beautiful gift!!!

Kashink for Le M.U.R

Kashink signing my bike

Kashink

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‘Actions speak louder than words’ – L’Atlas interview

One day before interviewing Shepard Fairey last June in Paris, I was fortunate to interview the French artist L’Atlas. On his peaceful studio in La Forge in Belleville neighborhood, with a fresh and raining afternoon surrounded by bird songs and in company with my artistic minded friend Jordan Alves (who set up the interview and also helped me to edit it), we had the opportunity of submersing ourselves in L’Atlas universe explained by his calm and sweet voice.

L’Atlas Studio, Belleville – Paris

L’Atlas, whose real name is Jules Dedet Granel, is a French artist born in 1978. Major figure in the street-art, artist and typographer who has studied Archeology and Calligraphy. He started to work with spray on the streets of Paris writing his name in the early 90’s.

L’Atlas Studio, Belleville – Paris

In 2001, he stopped to use spray can and discovered the tape (scotch). L’Atlas is particularly interested in Kufi, writing geometric codes which transposes into the Latin alphabet. Always been attracted by the cards and travel, his artistic approach was marked since childhood by the books on astronomy and geography whose aesthetics attracted him deeply. It is in this universe that owes its name, directed in most of his works. After marking the floors and walls of the cities with huge compasses and labyrinths, L’Atlas took the path of geometric abstraction. Today he is represented by 5 galleries around the world in Paris, NY, Milan, London and Marrakech.

“Cosmic Graffiti” Exhibition, Espace Beaurepaire – Paris – Photo:Bombes Production

L’Atlas manhole cover, Toulouse – Photo:L’Atlas

I first asked him, how he got interested about cosmos, earth and geography. “I was attracted by things around energy, like earth and cosmos and I use to do Tai Chi Chuan that easily opened my contact with the energy of the universe. I think life is energy and also calligraphy is energy, paint is the translation of pure energy. For me, there is no difference between the universe and painting. When you look at a map, the universe and cosmos are geographic landscapes in a balance. In my paintings, I’m looking to re-find the balance of the landscapes and cosmos”, he explains.

L’Atlas, Jakarta – Photo:L’Atlas

His artistic name comes from the titan in Greek mythology. He explained to me that during his studies of archeology he learned also Greek and Middle East mythology. “I was fascinated for by that and I thought it was a good idea to mix this old mythology with something really contemporary and modern.  Also because the Atlas it’s a universal form that everybody understands. On the book and the map, Atlas really influenced my work”.

L’Atlas Studio, Belleville – Paris

L’Atlas Studio, Belleville – Paris

L’Atlas Studio, Belleville – Paris

Influenced by Hakim Bey, researcher of the Sufism, he explained to me his spiritual path: “I don’t believe in God, I believe in a stronger energy and I am trying to follow this energy. I’m very sensitive to feel the energy inside places. I used to read a lot of books about Taoism and I feel connected with this philosophy, where everyone can find his own personality and even that in this philosophy there are rules, they are flexible, different of the traditional religions that don’t respect your individuality, making people follow their own visions’.

L’Atlas, Bruxelles – Photo:The Street Art Blog

L’Atlas started to learn Latin calligraphy in 1996 and between 1998 an 2000 he learned Arabic calligraphy  in Morocco, Cairo and Syria, each time with a different master. “First time in Morocco was classic calligraphy. I learned 9 or 10 different styles, the year after I came back to Cairo to make a documentary about calligraphy. This time was the beginning of my art. In this time I was doing my first ideogram, trying to find a balance between the letters and the form. In 2000, I made my first exhibition with a video of calligraphy”.

In 2001, L’Atlas stopped to use spray can and discovered the tape. He confessed to me that when he used to work with cinema, he used to steal some rolls of tapes which wore perfect to start making links with geometry. “With tapes you don’t have to draw something so the line is already there. I like this concept of the tape, it is physical. The tape is something to make straight line, also the old painters used that to make the letters”, he said.

L’Atlas, La Forge in Belleville – Paris

L’Atlas, Strasbourg – Photo:Fat cap

In love to register the ephemeral of the streets,  he said: “I like to register the ephemeral of the streets, because it’s the dream of everyone to be eternal and then die. Since I was a child, I was looking to the forms of the city, especially geometric forms. The manhole cover influenced my work with graffiti and calligraphy.  I like the idea that I’m going to enter into this format and stay there”

One of the memorable works of L’Atlas career were the compass series on the streets.  He told me a funny story that about how this idea was born, when in 2001 the city hall decided to clean all graffiti and street art in Paris. “It was really strange, overnight they cleaned everything. I felt confuse and lost in the city that I grew up. That’s why I started to make the compass, to find my own directions on the city again. It was a joke for me”.

A joke that resulted into something useful in the city.  The compass series used to be  in front of the subway, people were confused, thinking that the compass were commissioned by the city or some museum.  “I realized that when you’re doing ephemeral actions you will provoke something on people’s mind”.

Compass – Centre Pompidou, Paris

In the Greek mythology, Atlas has 7 daughters, that which is a representation of the universe in movement. Our contemporary L’Atlas also has his 7 daughters, that are 7 canvas that he did in 2001 and he has been traveling around the world with them, with the same idea of movement. “My idea was to travel with the canvasses and make pictures of them everywhere, in each city that I passed by, always in the same way. I used to do it with graffiti, writing my name. With the 7 daughters is the same thing because my name is right on the canvas but what exists it’s just the pictures. It’s the most ephemeral action that you can do on the streets”.He is editing a book, which is coming soon, with 400 pictures from 40 cities with the 7 daughters.

One of the “Seven Daughters”, India  – Photo:L’Atlas

One of the “Seven daughters” , Moscow – Photo:L’Atlas

L’Atlas started writing his name with spray in the beginning of 90’s on the streets of Paris. When he was 21, he used to tag his name on Agnes B.’s truck in front of her gallery and got a show with her because of this action: “The power of the walls is huge. To make a graffiti is a really strong action. That’s why my favorite quote is ‘Actions speak louder than words’”, he said.

L’Atlas graffiti, Paris  – Photo: Jojo Blogs

Nowadays, he can spend a month in just one canvas working for a show inside his studio. I was curious too understand how he has been mixing these two things and he told me: “I made the choice to work with galleries, but sometimes I need to go to the street and make big things, otherwise I can feel really nervous and aggressive. I miss the street because before I had the right balance between the street and the studio. Now I’m working in a big studio with Tanc. I work for several galleries around the world so I’ve to spend a lot of time to create exhibitions”. He also completed: “The street is a good thing to show your art, because if you sell a canvas, maybe 50 people will see it, but if your work is on the streets, maybe a thousand people will see it every minute!”.

Even working more inside his studio than on the streets nowadays, it’s impossible denied L’Atlas roots from street-art.  It’s a such powerful example that how an artist that started to work on the “free” walls of the street can achieve successful and maturity in his art- concepts and lifestyle.

L’Atlas signed my Le M.U.R book, Belleville – Paris

Paris bike tour from Alternative Paris

For someone like me, passionate about street art and biking, nothing could be better than a street art bike tour. This genial idea now exists in Paris and I enjoyed this perfect combination last week organized by the super cool Alternative Paris commanded by the journalist and expert in Street-Art Demian Smith.

Alternative Paris also offers 3 times a week, a walk tour focused on Belleville neighbourhood. In April I enjoyed the walk tour and was a really important moment that add so much in my work as a journalist for street art and was also a moment that Demian and I met first time and started to make some street-art projects together. I need to confess you that the bike tour was much more fun and a full experience in a way of having a more complete lesson about street art scene in Paris in just on day.

The Paris bike tour started on Boulevard Richard Lenoir, close by the tour started showing us two huge works by the artists Bonom and Zoo Project. After it goes to the 13 arrondissement,  on the way we crossed a bridge that gave us one astonishing view of the Seine river.

On the beginning of the thirteen we came to the shore of the Seine to appreciate the Le M.U.R  XIII,  an association that brings a new  street-art work each 15 days . Going up, we enjoyed the work of C215, the massive work of Shepard Fairey, Jana and JS, Inti, M-City and also my “coupe de coeur” of the day, a work by the Portuguese artist Vhils who uses a unique technique of chiselling out of the wall. This piece is  a beautiful portrait of a man with intense eyes that really impressed me.

Yet on the thirteen we came to the charming Butte-aux-Cailles, to see the stencil of the famous Parisians street-artists Jef Aerosol and Miss Tic. With a lot of work to discover between the walls of the coffees and restaurants, the tour makes a pause for a lunch in a Basque restaurant named Chez Gladines that welcomes you with two Miss Tic works on their front wall. I had a delicious and massive salad with a glass of wine for affordable €10. (Be careful, on this restaurant I recommend the salads but the plates are huge and you will have to continue to bike after lunch).

On the way down we passed inside the romantic Ile Saint-Louis (by the way, my favorite spot in Paris) and had a tour at Le Marais to appreciate the famous and huge Jef Aerosol close to the Centre Pompidou.  We also enjoyed works by Konny Steding, Fred Le Chevalier, THTF, Le MoDuLe De ZeeR  and the two top works in Paris from Space Invaders.

Crossing Le Marais to go back to the point where the tour started, we passed in front of Place des Voges which is considered one of the most beautiful and symmetrical squares in Paris, finishing our tour seeing one literally lovely work by Nick Walker and also one piece from Sten and Lex made using a really interesting technique.

Top view of Place des Voges

More than just appreciating the best of street art in Paris explained by the guide Demian who has a huge expertise on the subject, was enjoying so many different atmospheres of Paris. I used to say that biking is the best way to explore the city, you can go faster and enjoy all the sights that you wouldn’t have on the subway. So you can now imagine how this Paris bike tour is a really perfect combination allowing you to see the best street art in Paris and also the unique architecture of one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

The Paris bike tour took around 3.5 hours of pure delight. It happens twice a week. It’s important to bring water, wear comfortable clothes and use the hand signs (explained before the tour starts). It costs €29 which includes the bike (there’s a discount you have your own).  I totally recommend it! Don’t miss it!!!