A double of chalk to run on the walls of the city
“A small thing done at a given time can influence the trajectory of another person quite significantly.”
first steps on the street
How did you become an artist?
Even if I have studied art, my desire to draw appeared quite late. It was certainly my arrival in Paris that triggered this desire to create and be artistically active in this city. The chance of life has also done things well, thanks to the beautiful encounters that have marked my career.
When did you start working on the street?
The trigger occurred during the attacks of 13 November 2015. Residing in the 11th arrondissement, I returned every evening via the passage Saint-Pierre Amelot next to Le Bataclan. When I opened the window, I heard the detonations and the shots. I got a slap in the face, me being so far away from all this. I didn’t think this could happen here.
I drew a lot at that time, compulsively, to get rid of what was on my mind and relax. I went to pose a drawing, a character very similar to the one today but with a free form. As a result of these events, this free form gradually evolved into a heart, placing the human at the centre.
chalk as a material
Chalk has the advantage of being an ephemeral material, which can be quickly erased.
For me there were two important aspects. The fact that the chalk is erasable, preventing me from being arrested, but also the aesthetic dimension of the drawing which fades, becoming almost a ghost. I first started on the ground: these creations sometimes lasted a day, usually a few hours, but could appeal to passers-by.
One day, when I went to see a friend, I saw a wooden board that I hesitated to stop in front of, having already drawn a lot on the way. However, I quickly turn back to draw my character. An hour later, someone posts this picture on social networks, explaining that the drawing made him smile again. The reaction of this person, whom I met later, proves that all creations can have an impact, even when we think they are useless. A small thing done at a given time can influence the trajectory of another person quite significantly.
As you said, chalk ages very well too. Why did you go from the floor to the wall to draw?
It was the brown background of the bulky ones that made me move from floors to walls. This background was interesting, and I started to work it with chalk, or Posca when the support did not allow a good grip. Now I enjoy working on slightly worn surfaces, sometimes covered with foam. The chalk then makes it possible to leave a trace, the bottom attaching particularly well, and the contrast between the line and the natural wear of the support is all the stronger.
In terms of the line, it is interesting to play with the 90mm length of the piece, which does not give the same result at all depending on how you hold it. When we reach the end, it also forces us to go to the essential, whether it is to draw a head or a complementary element. While I usually use a chalk to tell a story, I often keep the scraps so that I can give them to the children afterwards.
a simple and universal character
The compulsive side of your first works is therefore found in the street through this immediacy.
Immediacy does not prevent an important research work upstream, to decide the position and volumes of my character, the movements of the head, body and arms. By changing the position of these elements, I have the impression that an elderly person, a teenager or a child, an object or an animal appear in turn.
Working on the error, like a foot that goes wrong, is also interesting. It is this work of composition and proportion that I am trying to develop further today. The compulsive aspect allows me to refine my character as I go along, taking pleasure in seeing him evolve.
Moreover, the simplicity of your line – and its figurative aspect – gives your work a universal dimension.
It is an immediate and philanthropic form of art, which anyone is likely to grasp, regardless of age, language, or judgment. It is in this process of sharing that I do my work, to pass on a positive and accessible message to all. This universal dimension also takes shape through the people who support me, who share my drawings through photography, or send me kind messages.
Do you only imagine yourself with this character?
I will completely follow the Bichon throughout his life. When I try to step back from what I do, I can’t tell myself that I drew it, I’m a spectator myself. When I draw it, it is as if it is anchored in me. Today, its development now involves dressing, background treatment, a sense of proportion, movement and staging, in order to give it even more variety.
From a graphic point of view, I will study how it can enter space, whether with thicker lines, points, lines or objects. While exploring new avenues, I always wonder if by developing it I can keep the same emotion. Those who have known me since the beginning consider that the Bichon has evolved without changing its nature. People can identify themselves, discover scenes, or symbols…
By working so hard on a character, he ends up achieving a form of perfection.
Jérôme Rasto – the first artist I met – recently told me that my character was complete because it could be found everywhere and easily. I don’t know what hindsight I’ll have on what I’m doing now at 40. Maybe I would have done more research, maybe I would have stayed at the same point or would only be in computer graphics work. I feel accompanied as if I am a double, whom I do not want to let go, as a relationship that is nurtured, cherished and shaped to suit everyone.
There are no wrong choices, no wrong tests. Everything is a matter for reflection on the development of an action, whether it is a reflection, an exchanged word, an encounter, a point of view, or even a silence. This echoes my profession as an interior designer, which shapes my eye to the designers I love, such as Jeannette Laverrière, who worked 40 times the same shape to achieve the perfect curvature, as well as the details of the Italian architect Carlo Scarpa or the designer Line Vautrin.
street as a creative space
What does the street mean to you as a space?
Whereas before the street was a substitute for the lack of drawing books, over time it has become a job that I also do for people. As I walk, I now see clearly the places in which I want to inscribe my character, as if I were facing a blank sheet of paper. I then see the street as a universe in which many new pages are just waiting to be lived in. And again, working with chalk gives others the opportunity to reclaim the place.
How are you going to choose your frame on the street?
There are several reasons for the choice: the environment will first make me think about what photo I could take and what it would tell. Other drawings are made for the people of the neighbourhood: I sometimes take the time to draw scenes, recreate on the doors of the company plaques that have disappeared to bring them back to life.
Exactly, what is your relationship to photography in your work?
I must have nearly 200 pictures of time stamps on which I wrote the word “love”. I collect them without knowing yet what I will use them for, as if several branches were developing from a main branch. This allows me to have a trace of my research, the photo being used here as a memory support.
How are the chalkers meeting? Are they the result of successive work?
In some places I place an element, and realize by going back a month after that someone has come to position himself next to it. This first drawing gives others the possibility to follow, in a kind of collaboration without meeting. It would not bother me if another artist erased my character’s arm and placed an element in it, appropriating it by adapting it to his universe.