Street Art in Boulogne-sur-mer located on the North French Coast: an exquisite discovery!2 October 2020
It all started 5 years ago with the birth of the 1st edition of the Street Art Festival in Boulogne-sur-mer; 5 years in which artists from all over the world have been selected with great finesse. A very sharp selection that offers us to see different styles : dripping, anamorsphism, classic painting. And above all more that thirty powerful and surprising works by their quality of execution! Of course the theme of the sea and fishing is very present, but as you will be able to see, these works have some very nice surprises in stores for us. I decided to focus on 15 artists. Why only 15 you will tell me? Quite simply because I am sure that at the end of this article you will have only one desire: to jump on a train to head for Boulogne to discover the other works;-)
Tribute to French painter Claude Monnet by Brazialian Eduardo Kobra
It was impossible for me to recognize Kobra’s style when I saw from a distance this reproduction he made of Claude Monet’s Young Girl with a Parasol… It was when I approached the work that I saw a second fresco representing the Master facing the young girl.
Claude Monet sketched in the purest kaleidoscopic style of Kobra renowned for his monumental works. It is one of the first works that I saw when I arrived in Boulogne and I immediately understood that the level of this Street Art promenade was very high. I often tend to tell you in my articles that Street Art is a cultural gateway for the younger generations and this diptych is further confirmation of that.
The young Jarus marvelously recreates a Boulonnais Fisherman
What can I tell you? I am captivated by the talent of the 24 year old Canadian artist! The figurative style of Emmanuel Jarus is completely controlled and the quality of his execution have the level of expertise of an artist who would be the double of his age! To make this fresco he collaborated with Frédéric Briois, photographer Boulonnais and reinterpreted his photos with his incomparable style. It was still glued to this work that I understood that Street Art in Boulogne-sur-mer was in the hands of connoisseurs and that my day was going to be a Festival!
The Fisherman’s rest by Case Maclaim
This German artist stages the hands which become the main elements of his works. Over the years, he has created a real language of hands which alone express strong feelings. This wotk is no exception to the rule; all the fatigue and hard work of the fisherman is felt by simply observing the swollen, striated phalanges, and the protruding veins,…By observing a lot of representations of fishermen, the artist realized that they were always represented during their hard work. With the work he wanted to show it in the well-deserved rest. To tell you that this work is magical would be an understatement; the way it fits into the architecture of the wall with the towel placed on the roof makes it an essential work that has been shared thousands of times on social networks!
Change of style with the anamorphic work of Peeta Ead
Here is a wall that will break the rythm of the article! If you follow the blog, you already know that I’m not speaking a lot of anamorphic artworks. But here in front of such a realization of this Venitian artist, I cannot ignore this very particular style which one finds in many graffiti artists.Interestingly, anamorphism reveals the deceptive nature of our human perception. Peeta is very talented in this area, by first appropriating the architecture of the wall, he keeps breaking it down to give us something else to see. This wall located in front of an obsolete parking lot surrounded by somewaht gloomy buildings, totally transforms the atmosphere of the place, and tirelessly attracts the eye.
The monumenta and finely crafted stencil of Monkey Bird Crew
This duo of young artists from Bordeaux has become in 8 years of existence one of the most recognized figures in the world of stenciling. They handle the art of precision and the finesse of cutting wonderfully. We find on this work in Boulogne-sur-mer all that charaterizes their work inspired by geometric, mechanical,… human treatises combined with the representation of the monkey and the bird. A precarious balance between nature and industrialization. I have seen many of their works in Black & White and found the combination of aqua green / blue and gold very interesting. Gold brings luminosity and relief to the work, while blue brings a touch of “sea air” that is rarely found on their works.
A bright portrait by David Walker
It was while passing under a rather dark porch that I came across this portrait of David Walker! Ultra-realistic; almost photographic and quite raw at the same time. The particularity of this English painter who lives in Berlin is that he only uses aerosol to work! No brushes for the finishes which is quite surprising if you scrutinize the details of this blue look that lights up in the street.Although this is not usually my favorite style of fresco; I have to put it in this selection; because seeing the quality of his multi-layered work, a Waouhh spontaneously escaped my mouth!
The Fascinating old man of Hendrik Beikirch alias ECB
The first time I saw a work by german artist Hendrik Beikirch was at Bushwick Collective in Brooklyn; and I had had this unpleasant feeling of rude intruding into the privacy of the painted character. this time the feeling was just as strong, but different. This deeply humanist artist reinforces the features, the marks of time and at the same time pushes our imagination to invent the life that goes with the faces he paints. As we are in Boulogne-sur-mer one could imagine that it is an old fisherman weathered by time that looks nostalgically at the sea… but in fact one can imagine hundreds of stories; what make the charm and the strength of this artist.
The enigmatic works of Telmomiel
To explain the work of this duo, I would almost want to say that they are the Siamese of Street Art… But that would be a bit reductive. Miel is from Amsterdam and Telmo from Rotterdam; they have been working together since 2012 and creating very enigmatic works. This should come as no surprise as each creates an individual piece which they then combine into a single composition; this offers our gaze a set of perspectives that plays on our perception and allows us to see multiple views of each work. As they have an almost academic execution; their achievements are very disturbing since one oscillates between classical painting, unusual colors in the murals and abstraction. This is the very first time I have seen their work and the least we can say is that it invites questioning!
The artist Add Fuel sketched by his friend SMUG
I chose to show you this work for two reasons: the first one is that I greatly appreciate the achievements of SMUG, this Australian artist, king of the photorealism style. He comes from the world of graffiti and you can feel the vibes of hip hop culture in his dough! And I love that! The second reason is that this work marked the absence of his friend Add Fuel, who was supposed to attend the Festival Street Art in Boulogne-sur-mer; but unfortunately the Covid wave has decide the contrary! I find this tribute from one artist to the other touching and rather representative of the understanding and respect that there is between these artists.
The heat wave illustrated by Fintan Magee
Fintan is an Australian artist who started graffiti in the streets at the age of 13. After a rather academic carrer at the Beaux-Arts in Brisbane, he never ceased to achieve artistic feats, with brushes, on the walls! There is only one leitmotiv in his work: to alert about global warming, the lack of water, the disappearance of the animal world… For each work he paints, Fintan obtains information from the inhabitants, explores the places carefully. Here just making his work into the magnificent Boulogne-sur-mer cycle paths that run alongside the sea. It leads us to think that under the heat of the asphalt the bike begins to melt little by little. his work are simple and efficient, unequivocal. In addition, his perfect mastery of techniques, such as dripping leaves no doubt about the interpretation one can have of his work.
The Rafistolés – patchworks- of Marika, Boulonnaise’s artist
It was at the end of the day with magnificent light that I found myself in front of the work of Marika; artist whom I had crossed by chance during my Boulonnaise walk. In fact, it had exactly the same effect on me as when I immersed in the exhibition of Tim Burton’s drawings at the Moma in New York in 2009… We end up with a dose of infantile tenderness masking another dose of fragility. In a perfect dosage, a fine balance, she manages to make the vagaries of life poetic… her imaginary is beautiful, balanced, full of sweetness and even if she does not yet have the same international pedigree as the other artists selected in Boulogne-sur-mer; she deserves more than its place on this open-air museum. it’s a great discovery and I’m more than happy to share it with you;-)
Andréa Ravo Mattoni the symbol of Culture for all!
I already told you about this incredible Italian artist in my previous article; he keeps reproducing old masterpieces and showing everyone what is usually hidden in a museum. His work in Boulogne-sur-mer is part of an ambitious project began in 2016 “recovering classicism in the contemporary”; it partly reproduces the masterpieces of the bombing past. Here it is the work Belisarius by François-André Vincent that has been revisited. Its almost perfect and deceptive execution comes from the fact that this artist is as comfortable with oil paint as whit a spray can through his training at the Academy of Fine Arts in La Brera.
The wrecker of Francis Tattegrain by Alaniz
It is more than rare to find this type of subject on the walls of a city! Once again, Street Art in Boulogne-sur-mer goes out of the comfort zone and hist hard. the subject matter is poignant, harsh and sad at the same time, while the work is truly impressive. The self-taught Argentine Artist is used to drawing inspiration from the places around him; while visiting the surroundings of Boulogne he certainly discover Berck museum, we find many works by Francis Tattegrain, master of naturalism, who ended his days in Berck. Or quite simply the Boulogne’s Castle which has this masterpiece in its collection. This woman in tattered clothes that carries the remains of wreckage like the misery of the world on her shoulders is striking. A strong and essential work.
Homage to General San Martin by Antonio Segui
I would certainly never have taken you with me to discover Street Art in Boulogne-sur-mer if this fresco had not existed. Prior to the Festival since it dates from 1992, this fresco by Antonio Segui, a world-renowned contemporary Argentinian artist was restored by the artist Boulonnais BF – Frédéric Boutoille – . This same artist had contacted me via Facebook for a completely different subject and it was while discovering his work that I also discover the Boulogne Festival and its restoration! Thanks BF!
This fresco shows General San Martin, liberator of Argentina, Chile and Peru that died at Boulogne-sur-mer in 1850 after crossing the Atlantic. This work also shows the city of Boulogne’s interest in wall painting.
The majestic & fantastic doors of Gonzalo Borondo
Far from being a classic work of Street Art, it is a masterpiece that the Spanish artist Gonzalo Borondo offered to the city of Boulogne… Pieces of Street Art like this one do not exist anywhere else! Honestly, it’s hard for me to know where to start because the work is so dense and intense. I will try to describe it by illustrating my words with photos which certainly be more meaningful than my writings.
First of all we find ourselves facing a gigantic portal, which at the end of the street seems impassable, it is supported by walls which make one think of bas-reliefs evoking Greek mythology or Roman Wars.
The further one goes, the more the trompe l’oeil appears and opens the doors to a whole new universe. The steps are covered with scenes of fights with half human half animal figures, strange animals and as many hallucinating representations out of the imagination of this incredible artist.
The top of the stairs is surmounted by two animals skulls that could be bulls… But after this emotional rise, we don’t quite know where we are. Turning around and looking at the artwork from above, at each landing of the staircase we find the word “passage” written on the left and “fury”, “temperance” and “free will” on the right.
This work is an experience on seven levels that shakes our imagination, puts it in turmoil. Finally it is indescribable and everyone can invent the craziest stories that could be linked to all the details. A single desire comes to mind : go back to experience it a second time!
A beautiful place is also reserved for Boulonnais artists
By moving from wall to wall and therefore street to street; I see that the city’s electrical boxes are also covered with works; characters, marine worlds,.. cover these horrible cases. And to be honest, it punctuates the trips pleasantly… I have a crush with the achievements of artist Gaawouel, a tattoo artist by profession, who creates magnificent, extremely expressive faces. Si I have concocted a little slideshow for you in tribute to the artists from Boulogne-sur-mer who make this walk even more magical
Should you got to Boulogne-sur-mer for a Street Art discovery?
To this question I can only answer: a thousand times yes! You will discover Street Art that is far from decorative where the notion of depth is no longer a notion but a reality. If the artists are selected with the same attention in the forthcoming years, it is very likely that Street Art in Boulogne-sur-mer will be must-see spot, even a mecca! What’s more, the inhabitants are happy to welcome you; the number of people who came to me to tell me where the works were was amazing. Not to mention the children crossed in front of the work of Marika who looked at it with eyes full of stars, telling me that it was beautiful…
Perhaps Boulogne wasn’t a Street Art destination in your mind, but change your mind; the city is 2 hours 20 minutes from Paris or only 1 hour and 10 from Lille by train. Moreover, it is easy to find your way around the city since a map is available on their website.
The icing on the cake, you can end this day with a magnificent and romantic sunset on the sea.
I hope you will be delighted with this new discovery walk! For those of you who couldn’t go to there, you will find all the Street Art in Boulogne-sur-mer on my Instagram… And if you want to continue strolling virtually; the walk that comes to my mind just after Boulogne is that of the Bushwick Collective in Brooklyn where we find a work by Hendrik Beikirch, or even that of Manhattan which will show you the difference between works on the both side of the Atlantic. And if you have a crush on Eduardo Kobra’s work, I dedicated him an article few months ago.
For my part, I’m going to put on my sneakers to offer you a ne Street Art adventure in the forthcoming weeks.
See you soon.