BEYOND THE WALL
On Wednesday March 6th Art Lounge in Beirut will begin their Urban Contemporary Art exhibition "Beyond the Wall" featuring the works of Tanc (France), Mark Jenkins (USA), Parole (Belgium), Zepha (France), L’Atlas (France), Obetre (Belgium), Reso (France), Siska (Lebanon), Prime (France), Phat2 (Lebanon)
L'Atlas (France) is a French artist born in 1978. He started to write graffiti in the 1990s. Fascinated with the line and the craft of writing, he went to study traditional Arabic calligraphy in Morocco, Egypt and Syria. He takes special interest in the Kufic script, the geometric shapes of which he transposes and encodes into the Latin alphabet, creating a unique typography. Without ceasing his interventions in the street, he is developing a pictorial universe in which each letter is considered as a shape, and each shape as a letter. Little by little, to him the city itself has appeared loaded with signs which he collects with a special printing technique in an almost abstract trail. He lives and works in Belleville, Paris.
Mark Jenkins (USA) is an internationally acclaimed American artist known for the mixed-media sculptures and street installations he places throughout urban and environmental settings, sometimes with, but often without, permission. Jenkins’ process involves dry-casting everything from fire hydrants and toy ducks to baby dolls and people, often himself or his assistants, with box sealing tape, the latter often dressed to appear scarily lifelike.
Jenkins’ works have been observed lounging atop billboards, slumped over on cafeteria tables, panhandling in the streets, emanating from street poles, drowning in bodies of water, clinging to statues, overturning street signs and more in locations such as Belgrade, Vienna, Washington D.C., London, Barcelona, New York, Moscow and Seoul.
Obetre (Belgium) discovered graffiti in the mid-1990s. Always aiming to maintain an innovative approach, Obetre promotes the appropriation of public space through his work. A keen traveller, he has left significant marks on the cities where he has lived such as Brussels, Toulouse, Montreal, Tokyo and Montevideo.
Parole (Belgium) is an artist from Brussels who works on the distortion of signs, phonetics and words. He also elevates his graffiti tags to the level of imaginative and poetic writing, somewhere between calligraphy and logograms. His work can also be deciphered as a kind of visual music that possesses its own rhythm, symmetries and silences. Parole emerges spontaneously from the blank sheet of paper to produce unpredictable emotions and the clashing of letters to generate novelty.
Reso (France) a true purist of matter, has practiced graffiti in Toulouse for nearly twenty years, the city where he is particularly famous. With a high level of precision, he draws "Wild Style", but also characters or realistic scenes. Thanks to graffiti, he has discovered many countries, other cultures and especially other painting techniques.
His participation in numerous festivals in Europe (Spain, Germany, Belgium, etc.) and his recurrent appearances in numerous publications make Reso a recognized artist not only in the graffiti world but also in contemporary art. Like other artists of his generation, Reso now alternates between the wall and the canvas.
Tanc (France) came to his art as a result of daily practice of graffiti. His strength comes from discovering how to make his name vanish so as to uncover an original pictorial, abstract language. The isolation of the calligraphic stroke applied to the canvas gives birth to a multicolored abstract painting lying somewhere between action painting, graffiti and pop art. Tanc composes his paintings like electronic music: by layering. These paintings, which at first sight appear direct and minimalistic, are in fact the result of prolonged inquiry into color and optical illusion.
Zepha (France) is a real cosmopolitan artist. His work is the result of the crossbreeding of several cultures. It was in 1989 that Vincent Abadie Hafez started to impose his and his crew’s names: Zepha. And he has not stopped since. He appropriates public space and disrupts visual habits: a graphic utopian fight undertaken against a system guided by savage man-eating liberalism and advertising. Arabic calligraphy strongly influences his work through his training by the Moroccan calligrapher, Abdelatif Mustad and the discovery of the work of the Sudanese calligrapher, Ahmed Abdel Aal.
With the Kufic and the lively Diwani styles, he has rediscovered the workings of composition, balance of letters and movement appropriated by graffiti. What if Latin or Arabic gets distorted diverted connected, mixed, accumulated, leading to a form of dreamlike and labyrinthine writing.
Prime (France) left Toulouse for Beirut in February 2005 on a journey that was supposed to last a few months; it lasted until July 2007. This is when he met Siska and became part of the re-awakening of the Lebanese graffiti scene and its present boom. Graffiti artist, he seeks other ways to express the essence of graffiti.
Siska (Lebanon) was a member of the hip-hop crew ‘Kitaa Beyroute’. He is a filmmaker and visual artist who pays special attention to the street art movement. Together with his friend Prime they wrote bayrūt mā bitmūt (Beirut never dies) a graffiti in Arabic in Beirut during the war of summer 2006.