French graffiti artists have been setting the bar for quite a while. While we in the Netherlands have a tradition of readable graffiti or abstract, France artists embraced the wild style and embraced it as their own. One of my personal favourite artists and a prime example of mind-blowing French graffiti is Parisian artist Dja’louz. Inspired by Arabic and Asian calligraphy, Dja’louz developed a unique 3d style which most of the times he applies in site specific ways. We had the honor to ask this inspiring artist some questions in between preparations for his upcoming exhibitions! For some more background information on Dja’louz, please read this 2009 interview done by the Photograff collective (google translate).
" I like to spend my time in unusual places. "
How was 2011 for you as a graffiti artist?
2011 was a rich year in encounters and creation. Loads of projects! I made my first house-front in Northern France and did quite some festivals: Meeting of Styles in Zurich, a contemporary art market in Carcasonne, an art battle in Lille, I was nominated for the Artaq awards and participated in the group show, gave lessons / workshops to children... I love passing on knowledge and above all, share! I did an exhibition at Gallery 154 in Paris with pictures of my graffiti in forgotten places. I like to spend my time in unusual places. I also did an exhibition project in collaboration with photographer Alex Perret and the artists of the collective ‘AnArtChic’: Pesca, Caligr, Rahse, Toux and Hakic.
You’ve got an immaculate 3d style, how did this develop?
I developed my style with the intention of departing from the (usual) scope. I’m inspired by Arabic and Asian calligraphy. I compose a harmony between my forms and places; the wall, the floor, corners and cracks. I like to break the lines and go beyond the simple mural, playing with the environment that surrounds my graffiti. Material waste, damaged; I will adapt differently each time according to the inspiration I have at the moment. I have a very photographic vision before I start painting. I guess I try to frame the photo of my work in advance. I try to use colours that go with the environment and I want to put in volume what I chalk as a sculpture so that my forms take up space in places where they pose. I love the letters but I do not quite master them so I prefer the abstract forms that are inspired by these places. This is why I always improvise. I never sketch in advanced!
"When I discovered abandoned places and walls I really deepened my approach. I started to try more complicated angles, loving the difficulty. "
When I started out the shape of my work was very round and organic. After a while I tried putting more volume to the forms to give the impression that my graffiti was really popping out of the wall. I’ve been working my graffiti around walls and on the ground since 2007. Since last year I really started taking this serious with the ‘phone booth’ project.
When I discovered abandoned places and walls I really deepened my approach. I started to try more complicated angles, loving the difficulty. Every painting is something new and more challenging and I always have the desire to be as clean and precise as possible.
You’ve started your graffiti career at the infamous Hermitage in Paris, can you tell us a bit about that place?
Indeed, the Hermitage theatre is where I started my graffiti career. It was a place that was quiet at the beginning but deteriorated over time until it finally caught on fire. RIP! I put my forms on all interior and exterior walls, it was my training ground to test, create and question everything. It was a meeting place (I’ve met Hakic, Sub and many others there) and it was there that we’ve founded the 2AC crew with Pesca and Hakic!
"Obviously, I prefer isolated areas, away from the world of gossip as this crap doesn’t interest me. I try and stay as far away from these things as possible."
Where do you prefer to paint nowadays?
I create graffiti everywhere I’ve got the opportunity to do so! No matter where I am, I find a place to create my piece. My favourite places are abandoned houses, brownfields and old hospitals. Oh and I love bathrooms! I like it all, as long as the walls are damaged and the place lends itself for pretty pictures. I’ve done a few pieces in the Pyrenees street (Paris) or the Belleville neighbourhood like Dénoyez street. We opened a building not too far from there last year where we had some great times. Obviously, I prefer isolated areas, away from the world of gossip as this crap doesn’t interest me. I try and stay as far away from these things as possible.
Are you a ‘full-time’ artist?
I’m not really a full time artist because life is pretty dear ;) ! I’ve quit my job as a bartender a year ago to devote myself to my passion, but things are still very uncertain. I combine the various benefits though: I’m a graffiti teacher and I also do performances at parties and events. Also, I’m a member of the collective ‘Bric à Brac circus’, resident for the ‘Excuse my French’ evenings that are in partnership with Adidas and a member of the Fatcap agency. Things are moving forward very positively and I hope it’ll keep going that way; I’m doing my best every day! I’ve got exhibitions to look forward to and those will cost me a great deal of work, it’ll be great! And above all, there are more factory closings thanks to the crisis :D!
Which artists have inspired you?
Artists who inspired me in the beginning are Marko (3DT), Dare, Reso, Daim, Dire (132) and Alex (MAC). At the moment I’m a fan of the works of Dran (DMV), Peeta, Maniak (OPC,MCT). The crews that inspire me and I respect for their unity and their work : MAC, DMV, Maclaim, MCT, TSF, IMF, 3PP and HEC.
What can we expect from Dja’Louz in the future?
First of all you can expect the group exhibition ‘Photograffée’ with my collective ‘An’Art’Chick’ (consisting out of Dja’louz, Caligr, Pesca, Rashe, Toux and hakic) in collaboration with photographer Alex Perret. In this exhibition we’ll mix photography with graffiti.
You can expect the Artaq awards witn ah exhibition in Angers, a festival and museum exhibition in Saintes and an exhibition with Shaka and Kouka in March / April 2012 at the theatre of Colombes.
Burger Eton Blaze Ozas Jenk Djuk Pesca Caligr Hakic Rashe Cough Tuile Auker Shupa Baree Sub Alex Perret, Monark, La mouche, Maniak, Esper, Rafe, Skripte, Nawie, Luner, Thias, Oeuil de Tat, mouarf, Syl, Chrixcel, Brin d'amour, Photograff 92, Marko's photo, Startape, Xun, Artaq, Mom, Dad, Little, Lü., Loul, Sardine, Chou, Arden (thank you to CFYE)
And a huge thought for Alain Conca (RIP) ..
Sorry for the ones I forgot!