C215 at Montana Gallery Barcelona
If you weren’t lucky enough to catch this C215 show at the Montana Gallery in Barcelona before February 2, 2013, well… it’s too late now. But lucky for you, I WAS able to go and I photographed much of the brilliant work on display there. I waited until the show was over on this one because I didn’t want to give away the goodies for those who were planning to attend.
I first happened across C215’s work while roaming the back fondamentas of Venice in 2009. At the time, I’d never seen such a distinctive stencil painting out on the street and it led me to research this brilliant Parisian artist and his work.
While C215 (Christian Guémy) has been a street artist for more than 20 years, his signature stencil technique really evolved into its own style after 2006 and has been progressing ever since. Most people know him for his intricate portraits of street people: the homeless, orphans, laborers, the poverty-stricken denizens of desperation. While on the surface, it may appear to be an image of someone who looks down and out, upon closer examination they often also seem to be brimming with unbridled joy.
But there’s much more than that in his big bag of tricks. Lately you can see more lovers, animals, and even mythological figures in his work.
This show included a variety of works by the artist. Many on wooden boards which gave a nice added texture to the paintings. Some even had tiny hand-crank music boxes attached to them giving each one its own analog soundtrack to be performed by the viewers themselves.
There was also a strong series of works done on street/construction signs. These paintings made great usage of the saturated yellow and stark black of the signs allowing the artist’s sharp details to stand out.
In addition to beautiful portraits, these sign paintings included some political and more serious works.
(notice the “Cash for Your Warhol stencil just below this painting?)
C215 also selected some works tackling the battles of drug addiction and incorporating some very strong phrases.
One break-away piece was this installation appearing to be “stencilled” by cocaine on a mirror.
C215 often works on what he calls “urban furniture” like mailboxes and such. There were several of these pieces in the show, embellished by extending the paint onto the walls themselves as he did with most of the items at this exhibition.
One of the larger works in the show was this “Summer of Love Music Festival” painting on wooden planks.
So, all together, a fairly small but very strong exhibition highlighting some of the many different styles of this versatile artist. C215 is one of the most prolific artists out there today and would likely make most people’s top 25 list. So keep a lookout for his work. It often blends right into it’s environment, and that fits right in with the artist’s intentions.
“I try to interact with context, so I place in the streets elements and characters that belong especially to the streets.” – quoted from C215’s Facebook page.
On my way to the exhibition at The Montana Gallery in Barcelona, I walked right past this piece without even noticing it until my wife pointed it out.
And when possible, be sure to get up close and personal with his work. The details don’t disappoint.
all photos and text © Lance Aram Rothstein for Labeauratoire.