Street art part two / Le street art, deuxième partie
Two posts on street art in a row! My, my. But, as the French would put it, street art is mon nouveau dada (my new interest, my new source of enthusiasm) – and I found a bunch more just by wandering along a few streets in my neighborhood (the 11th). I took nearly 250 pictures this morning alone in a roughly six-block radius – a tiny fraction of the arrondissement. What other things await?? But let’s get started. First I want to talk a bit about an artist I discovered yesterday (she’s already known in the community of people who care about street art, but I’m just learning): Pole Ka. Her drawings/paintings are really interesting, mixing the human with the vegetal and the animal in an often discomfiting reminiscent-of-an-anatomy-text kind of way. Here’s the first one I found:
I nearly didn’t photograph this; at first glance, it made very little sense visually, and my brain wanted to reject it. I took the photo out of a sense of duty more than anything else, and then really looked. Her stuff is fascinating. The angle of the head seems so unusual, something about it so distinctly unnerving – before one even notices that the figure’s trachea is a stylized tree (those roots give me the willies – but the whole gives me the willies, in a good way). After taking a good look at this I went home, found the website I linked to above, and today when I went on my walk I was specifically looking for more of her work. I found it.
Among the pieces I found was another version of the above work, this one colored, and almost completely ripped away:
I find this piece – “piece?” – striking in its own way, notably because of the tag (which I can’t make anything out of except the ending heart) emerging from the figure’s now nonexistent mouth, from the wall-emptiness where there “should” be tree-trachea. I think whoever tried to rip this off the wall did a particularly interesting job of ripping; much of the figure’s frame is still there, you get an idea of the colors, you notice small details like the flap of skin coming off the chin (eek!), etc (Pole Ka’s site includes, in the “sur les murs” section, a photo of the color version in full on a wall in Reims). At first I thought the tag was already there and Pole Ka had plastered this over it, but then I realized it had to be the other way around. Nice collaborative element there, I think (if “collaboration” is really the right word).
Then there was other work. For one thing, I realized that the disembodied head/arms and the pedestal I put up a photo of in the last post were by Pole Ka, because I came across a signed version accompanied by a slightly mystifying sidewalk caption:
Then there was this:
Pregnancy seems to be a theme. In the same Passage I came across this (hi, Death!):
Eden’s tree of death indeed. There is so much going on here – some obvious, some not. But important question: what is that snakey thing in the lower right? I don’t think it’s The Snake, since he’s hanging around in Death’s branches. And, side note, Death’s face here is both somewhat human (if very stylized) and very Pole Ka in style.
Another, very different pregnancy image (easily the most personally disturbing Pole Ka I’ve found):
My friend Skypotatoe pointed out the disturbing shape of the head and the curved-yet-angled cut of the ear in proportion to the head, and now I can’t unsee it. Something about this is so very disturbing, and so great. Is she chewing? About to spit out? Both? The proportions give me the chills.
Meanwhile, back to Death. A more muted (so to speak) image of a human wearing Death’s face rather than vice-versa (as in the Eden image):
I love how you don’t at first notice that the woman is wearing Death’s face, because of the broad expanse of back and the child peeping in.
Pole Ka also does these monstrous little tarot card-like paintings. There was an appropriately toothy one (the title of which seemed to have been ripped away) under the “pregnant to the teeth” image:
Finally, my favorite Pole Ka so far:
So simple, so monstrous, so beautiful.
ANYWAY. There are also others, that I found! I had heard of Tristan des Limbes’ often grotesque work (he and Pole Ka, from what I see online, collaborate sometimes, which seems appropriate) – and after some very careful looking I came across some (the works are small and easy to miss, hidden away in small corners or plastered on posts).
Angst. And then, nearby, we have a little boy who appears to be contemplating suicide by scissor:
I also discovered today Le Soldat Inconnu, which, according to that link (an article in French), is actually a duo… who put up paintings of a generic unknown soldier. I came across their work twice today, and both times, another artist (unknown) had involved some masks. I continue to be quite interested in the effect of artists either layering things onto each other’s work or putting their own works in proximity to others in ways that seem to be meant to (potentially) convey something. Anyway:
The mask-creating artist actually went so far as to overlay a mask onto the unknown soldier in this next one:
Notice the presence once again of toctoc, whose work on the “place au peuple” grouping I was so enjoying in my last post. The fact that this figure is recognizably Freddy Krueger makes me wonder if the two knife-wielders I posted in my last blog were horror movie figures I just didn’t recognize – and actually, as I was writing this a commenter on that post, Lindsay, pointed out that the redheaded figure is Chucky and the black-cloaked figure could be the guy from Scream, so there you go.
I saw several cartoon figures by The Pope of Fat, aka David Gouny, including the one he’s posted a photo of for today on his own blog. Here’s my pic:
Gouny’s figures (based on those I saw) seem to mostly be cartoons of fat ladies doing various action-y things (like windsurfing and toting guns). I am slightly annoyed by them for the moment (though I do like the colors), though I’m not sure I can articulate why. I am, however, willing to hold off judgement until I see more of them.
Hopnn was in evidence:
I also found some Fred le Chevalier:
And then there’s the ubiquitous Space Invader. Oh, Space Invader, how I love thee. (I do not love the person who had clearly intentionally chipped away half of one of the ones I’d found before giving up and leaving the rest.)
And possibly my favorite Space Invader ever, because it’s the sneakiest, set in a recessed spot at about the level of my knees instead of high on a street corner:
And now, ladies and gents, for a random assortment of Everything Else I’ve Seen That I Find Interesting!