You can’t deny that iconizing is a huge part of ‘modern’ street art. I don’t know if it’s the legacy of Andy Warhol or that it’s just the easy thing to do, but stencilling, illustrating, spray-painting and altering icons or iconic sights, symbols, photographs seems to make-up a big part of what we call street art. That is not necessarily a bad thing though, it might be a good mirror of our current civilization; Worshipping God(s) made place for idolising and iconizing celebrities and known figures. But what is hard to grasp, is that 90% of the artists get their inspiration from the pop-culture out of the last century. This makes for a whole lot of MJ’s and Marilyn Manroe’s traced in Illustrator. I know it’s a gross exaggeration but you catch my drift!
Enter C215 and Zilda. I don’t think I need to introduce these artists, but if you don’t know them, please take the time to look at their Flickr accounts. Even though these artists are both from France, they are totally different. One mainly works with stencils, the other mainly with paste-ups. One mainly works on the crowded streets, the other searches his favorite spots in derelict buildings. Still, every once in a while, they both get their inspiration from the same place in history: the Renaissance. Looking at some of their works based on the old masters (the common master between the two being Caravaggio) I was inspired to ask them a couple of questions: What makes their work so unique? How does their art-history knowledge influence their work? Is too much street art just a mere imitation, and if so, why?
C215: the philosopher Heraclitus said: “No man ever steps in the same river twice” and it means that every life, every period is unique and cannot be compared to anything else. Modern classics are discussing with classic from the past, and the era that began after Duchamp, completely conceptual, is now over to take place in reality in our 3D world and especially the streets. For me quoting Caravaggio is a good way to speak about my influences, my own history and feeling. The Narcissus one process has been a deep psychological trip … my graffiti is always self-expression, supported by my street experience and my culture. I think that we are, after the Duchamp’s “Art is dead”, living a new Renaissance. Good to believe in Humanism again.
Sure that the young artists, as well as the general public sometimes miss a good knowledge of art history to escape being naive. Most of the times we’re confused between fashion, trends art history. And art history is highly selective..
Zilda: I don’t think my work is as unique as you say, certainly not when it comes to style. When I look into a painter’s work, I rather tend to give way to his style.
To me, replicating a work is not only interpreting it pictorially. The most important is what you do with that painting. I like picturing it, contextualizing it in the urban space and photographing it with regards to its surroundings. Sometimes I set up some kind of staging, shit like that.
I’d rather talk about emotions aroused by some works. I like feeling like shit in front of a painting, looking at it as an equation you need to solve.
I don’t like putting my ass on a chair and coldly analysing a work. I’d rather address it frontally, physically and get close to it. Ingesting it, drawing it, painting it, interpreting it is a way of going all the way through my obsession.
I think you’re a bit harsh. Street art can’t be summarized to that. There are so many artists with fucking personalities and worlds of their own. On the contrary, it’s nice to see individuals making their way while keeping a bit of ethics and showing us that street art is not only about fashionista, galleries, money, the race for prestige, buzz and all that shit.