21 Feb In Conversation with C215: Part 1
Today, StolenSpace is proud to present the ‘Vitry Ville Street Art’ book launch and signing.
The book launch coincides with C215’s ‘Back to Black’ solo exhibition. When in London for his inaugural show at StolenSpace, we wanted to know a little more about C215 aka Christian Guemy and his work and to get a deeper insight in his opinions concerning some relevant street art-related issues.
We interviewed this amazingly skilled artist, who in view of his cold and numerical cyborg moniker is an emotive and cultured man, and who has great respect of the historic and cultural heritage of art on the streets. Revealing something of the inspiration and process behind the creation of his poetic and intense images.
StolenSpace: What is the difference between an artistic intervention in the street and an artwork exhibited in an art gallery? Do you have a different feeling about them?
C215: In the first place, the difference between art in the street and in galleries depends on the artist. Sometimes the artists act in the street as they act in a gallery. Sometimes they’re just advertising and showing anything anywhere.
SS: So you believe that in the streets other artists are advertising?
C215: They can, when they go in the streets and leave their artwork random, without any context. Sometimes art is advertising because there is no connection with the landscape, with the streetscape. So I believe that street art has to be contextualized. It can be transformed by the city, by people passing by and by other artists. When you get a piece by Swoon, after two years full of tags, that is not advertising for Swoon, it is pure street art. It is something else that has been transformed by the city.
SS: Can we say that you bring the outside inside?
C215: No, I don’t bring the outside inside. Outside is outside, because it is ever changing, while inside whatever I do it is fixed forever and nobody is interacting with my works. That’s why street art is contextual but also collective, so someone will come and put a moustache on your portrait or paint on the eyes or even destroy a work. They think they destroyed it but they have only transformed it. They have also created some street art. People get the feeling of something that is completely collective, anarchist, chaotic and really interesting. What I like when I paint in the streets is that it’s something I’m not controlling completely, while inside it is something I control. There is a big difference.
SS: Can painting illegally be more powerful than painting legally?
C215: I can’t say one is better than the other one. Painting illegally in the street adds to it because it makes it free and new, while to get a commission to paint a wall somewhere in the street or a building is nothing new. It is interesting, it’s funny, it’s advertising, it’s entertaining for me and for people. But poetry is not there. I do it, I do drafts, I paint and then get the money. It’s not a strong story. It is interesting when someone takes a little risk to paint something there one day and this artwork will not maybe be there the day after and that’s street art…it’s ephemeral, interactive. When you get just a legal commission for painting a wall, poetry it is not the same.
SS: Concerning public space, what do you think about the tricky separation between public space and private property, which can be easily blurred according to convenience?
C215: Public space does not exist at all any more in Western cities. Everything is mostly private because whatever you paint on belongs to someone, it could be a community, the council, anything. That’s why when street art is uncomissioned and you paint without an authorization the question is, are you vandalizing or not? I always select spots to enhance when I paint. So I’m not a vandal because I add value.
SS: Don’t you think that painting on a wall add value in any case?
C215: No. It depends both on the wall and on the painting. You can’t paint on antique walls. Or if you paint on marble walls, you’re a vandal because they are beautiful and if you paint on them, your work is less interesting than the marble itself. So when you find an old wooden door and you paint on it you can think you’re adding value. Usually it is a relationship in-between value and quality. The value of the artist and the value of the piece painted.
‘Back to Black’ is open until 2nd March at StolenSpace Gallery.