Street art part two / Le street art, deuxième partie

Paris Street Tart. Artist unknown. Rue de la Forge Royale, Paris 11ème. 14 November 2012.

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:

“Dissection #1” (according to her website). Rue des Taillandiers, 11ème. 13-14 Novembre, 2012. This is a black and white version; there is also a color one (see below).

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:

“Dissection #1,” Pole Ka, in color. Rue de Charonne, Paris 11ème. 14 Novembre 2012.

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:

Title unknown, Pole Ka. Passage des Taillandiers, Paris 11ème. 14 Novembre 2012. The sidewalk caption reads “the world walks on [me],” the “me” either being english or a truncated french word (mes? but something would still be missing).

Then there was this:

“Sainte Macre de Fismes,” Pole Ka, b&w version. Passage des Taillandiers, Paris 11ème. 14 Novembre 2012.

Pregnancy seems to be a theme. In the same Passage I came across this (hi, Death!):

“Eden’s Tree of Death,” Pole Ka. Passage des Taillandiers, Paris 11ème. 14 Nov 2012.

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):

“Enceinte jusqu’aux dents” (A play on “enceinte jusqu’aux yeux”, literally “pregnant to the eyes”, an expression meaning extremely pregnant. “Dents” = “teeth”). Pole Ka, 2012. Seen Rue Basfroi, 14 Novembre 2012.

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):

“Fantasme(s),” Pole Ka, 2011. Passage Saint-Antoine, Paris 11ème. 14 November 2012.

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:

Title unknown (other than the XII), Pole Ka. Rue Basfroi, Paris 11ème. 14 Nov 2012.

Finally, my favorite Pole Ka so far:

“Metamorph #2,” Pole Ka. This one seems to come in different colors, judging by the site. Passage Saint-Antoine, Paris 11ème. Nov 14, 2012.

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).

“J’ai mal à l’existence,” Tristan des Limbes. Rue Basfroi, Paris 11ème. 14 Nov 2012.

Angst. And then, nearby, we have a little boy who appears to be contemplating suicide by scissor:

Tristan des Limbes. Rue Basfroi, Paris 11ème. Nov 14, 2012.

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:

3 soldiers by Le Soldat Inconnu, carrying cupcakes and graffiti-spraying equipment… and accompanied by a rain of complexly-detailed masks by another artist. Passage des Taillandiers, Paris 11ème. 14 Nov 2012.

The mask-creating artist actually went so far as to overlay a mask onto the unknown soldier in this next one:

A mash-up. An unknown soldier by Soldat Inconnu, sporting a mask pasted-on by the unknown mask artist; a lady carrying a gun by Pope of Fat; and a Freddy Krueger figure by toctoc. November 14, 2012. The text on the soldier reads “Today is my birthday / Long live November 11th [Armistice Day] / Le Soldat Inconnu.” Passage Saint-Antoine, Paris 11ème. Nov 14 2012.

[ETA 12/22/12: The mask artist is BauBô, who I discuss at much greater length here.]

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:

Woman with deltaplane (is that an English word?), The Pope of Fat. Passage Saint-Antoine, Paris 11ème. Nov 14 2012. There was a differently-colored version of this in le Passage des Taillandiers, as well.

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:

One of hopnn’s bicycles, Rue des Taillandiers, Paris 11ème, Nov 14 2012. The text he clearly wrote himself reads (in very casual/slangy language) something like “[they] stole my bike”; the rest of the text (which is seems likely he wrote?) reads “indifference has its hands bathed in blood.”

A hopnn bicycle on the Passage Saint-Antoine, Paris 11ème. I suspect that “I heart the police” was meant sarcastically by whoever stenciled it. Hopnn’s text reads, again, “[they] stole my bike.” Nov 14, 2012.

I also found some Fred le Chevalier:

Fred le Chevalier. Rue de Charonne, Paris 11ème. 14 Nov 2012.

A kiss by Fred le Chevalier. (Are those horns?) A streetcorner, Rue de Charonne, 11ème. Nov 14 2012.

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.)

Space invader, Rue de Charonne, Paris 11ème. Nov 14 2012. Also, a very small pasted-up car…

Space Invader on another streetcorner on Rue de Charonne, Paris 11ème. Nov 14 2012.

See? Vandalism!!

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:

Space Invader hiding/lurking under a mailbox, Passage Saint-Antoine, Paris 11ème. Nov 14 2012.

And now, ladies and gents, for a random assortment of Everything Else I’ve Seen That I Find Interesting!

A post by le CyKlop that I’ve walked past on the Faubourg Saint-Antoine for months now without noticing.

I like this FatCat person’s cats! Rue de Charonne, 11ème. 11/14/12.

FatCat has moments of angst: “Life is dirty and puts you in a panic!!!” Rue de Charonne, 11ème. 11/14/12.

Another foetus, near or on Rue de Charonne. I saw 3 today. They’re painted on, not chalked, and I still suspect (after talking to French cousins) that they’re about abortion.

Can’t make out the signature. Passage Lhomme, 11ème. 11/14/12.

“On top of being ugly, I’m still very mean” (feminine gender). Profile pic? Rue de Charonne, 11ème. 11/14/12.

Tag looks like FRR-FALL (?). Same style of chesspiece/mushroom that was adorning the “place au peuple” grouping shown in my last post. Rue de Charonne, 11/14/12.

Above Pitt. High streetcorner, Rue des Taillandiers, 11ème.

The sneakiest cat in the world, Rue de Charonne. I had to crouch at street level to get this pic; he was hard to notice. 11/14/12.

Yes, Paris, you could certainly use some soap. Rue de Charonne, 11/14/12.

Another kiss, by an artist whose work (all very much in this style) I’ve seen around but whose name I don’t know. Rue Charonne, 11/14/12.

I’ve seen this guy around a couple of places, in different colors. Rue Saint-Bernard, 11ème. What is he exclaiming about?

“Suer” is not an artist’s tag – it was tagged all over the general area – but it does mean “to sweat.” Rue de la Forge Royale, 11ème. 11/14/12.

Yes. That is Tupac Shakur, very high up on a wall. Rue de la Forge Royale, 11/14/12.

Does writing “poème” in big block letters make it so? Rue de la Forge Royale, 11ème, 11/14/12.

In 2 places on Rue de la Forge Royale someone has stuck triptychs of broken mirrors very high up on walls. They’re sort of pretty. 11/14/12.

WTF indeed, my friend. Rue de la Forge Royale, 11ème. 11/14/12.