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If l’Espace Dali is France’s largest collection of pieces by the surrealist master, most Parisians do not even know about its existance. That may change with this surprising Street Art exhibition.
What if Salvador Dali was still alive? Would he meet with the freshest Street Artists? and if he did, what would this encounter look like? And what would come out of it? That’s pretty much the pitch of that unique exhibition, that will take place in Montmartre until March 15th, 2015.
Curated by Véronqiue Mesnager, the Parisian Street Art expert, the show displays the works of 22 street artists of the Paris scene, and beyond. Madame Mesnager asked each of the artist to tell the story of their imaginary encounter with Salvador Dali, and these texts are all kept in the exhibition’s catalogue, which casts an interesting light on the overall exhibition.
Some Street Artists are fans of Dali, some others can barely stand him; they all played the game. let it be positive or negative, each artist found a special angle that struck him: Its complex sexuality for Akiza, its religious faith for Kouka, Pioc PPC and Thomas Mainardi, its dreamscapes for Speedy Graphito or Fred Calmets, its misogyny for Valeria Attinelli -one of the two women of the show, its love of money for Nowart, and so on.
The presentation of the exhibition reflects this diversity of topics in a rather clear way, generating more than 10 different spaces addressing different concept where the contemporary pieces of the street artists are confronted to sculptures, prints or objects created by Dali. The new and old pieces are graphically tied together by a system of anamorphosis, white line that reveal themselves only when you are standing on a certain location within the venue.
The pieces presented are extremely dense and diverse, and one can spend hours raving at the delicate psychedelic animals of Hadrien Durand-Baissas, the 3D light graffitis of Jadikan, The exquisite body paintings on Lady Godiva by Man Ser, the almost abstract version of dali’s Santiago el Grande by KoolKoor, the audio installation of King’s Queer or the lace of contemporary images floating on Nikodem’s drawing. Hidden messages appear in Levalet’s puppet master where he is both the master and the puppet, echoing Dali’s work on our subconscient that can be pulling the strings. Even Keith Haring collaborates in a dramatic apocalyps in tandem with William S Burroughs, which blinds the Mona Lisa in a deadly nuclear ejaculation. Zokatos fools around with brand logos to question both Dali’s greed and our society.
One painting, or one creation of Dali, seems to be extremely aspiral for street artists. It’s the Elephant Spatial, that long legged elephant that appears in different paintings, and especially on the Temptation of Saint Anthony. Nowart uses it, as well as Paella? on his canvas exploring the Spanish legacy of Dali and creating a visual pun where a Menina in an arena becomes a skull. Jérôme Mesnager, one of the pionneer of the Paris street Art scene in the 80s, sets its famous “White Body” as Saint-Anthony protecting himself from this eerie herd of long legged animals. This is echoed by Codex Urbanus’s paintings where Saint-Anthony become a typical Codexian creature, and instead of holding a cross, he holds a Lobster-Scorpion inspired by the lobster phone of Dali (that is displayed further down in the exhibition) and takes a big fat selfie of himself and the herd, as if the cell phone was a new religion, self centered on our own ego.
Artiste-Ouvrier uses its double stencil technique to recreate the same herd of long legged animal with its traditional amazing colors, around another Dalinian visual pun: the swans changing into elephants.
Overall, this exhibition is unique as it gets together two huge movements on our modern era that both specialize in bringing out non-sense and poetry in our rational world. The result is thought-provoking, while it also proves that the level of what’s happening on our walls have nothing to envy to museum pieces when placed side by side.
Dali fait le Mur
11 rue Poulbot, 75018 Paris (in Montmartre)
Tel: +33 1 42 64 40 10
Until March 15th, 2015