Street Art in Port de Bouc France is evocative of feelings, deeply humanistic23 September 2022
When I went to discover Street Art in Port de Bouc, I had no idea what I was going to find. It must be said that this small port with an old-fashioned charm is wedged between the refinery of Fos-sur-Mer and the port of Martigues… The views towards the sea are rather industrial and on the neighbouring hills the housing has grown like mushrooms in autumn. The little port suffers from this heavy environment and has a hard time breathing. But then, three years ago, Le Festival Les Nouveaux Ateliers started to decorate the walls with street art and my growing curiosity led me to go and see what was going on. What a surprise it was to discover the first works! A selection of artists that is unlike any other festival. A Street Art which seriously draws towards a contemporary figurative painting borrowed from humanism… so I wanted to know more and I contacted Rémy Uno of the Lartmada collective in charge of the Artistic Direction of the Festival.
Le Festival Les Nouveaux Ateliers : generous, popular and narrative
These are the three adjectives chosen by Rémy Uno to describe the Festival. It was not an easy exercise and his choice perfectly echoed the feeling I had while walking through the streets. It all started in 2000 with a project for the art centre; Rémy hooked up with Laure, the director, and they started talking about the project of a WALL like many cities have.
The discussions evolved and the town’s mayor, who had been a supporter since the first project, came on board. He doesn’t see it as a tourist opportunity like other cities, but rather as a way of redesigning the city’s contours, adding colour and offering the inhabitants a more pleasant living space.
Rémy tells me on the phone that the thinking has evolved and that they have decided that on a larger scale, with a lot of good will, they can do it. The partners of the town hall put at their disposal some painting platforms, the owner of the campsite, Georges, accommodates the artists, the restaurant owners cook for them… with a lot of elbow grease and voluntary work, Le Festival Les Nouveaux Ateliers was born!
Why Les Nouveaux Ateliers? Quite simply in reference to the shipyard called Les Ateliers de Provence, a shipyard founded in 1899 and which for more than half a century built more than 200 boats and gave much work to the villagers. Its closure marked the end of an era for the town and the arrival of the festival, a new lease of life.
In fact, as you have understood, Port de Bouc is not a rich city and the real stars of this Festival are the port de Boucains who have welcomed with immense generosity local, national and international artists. Without them nothing of what you are going to discover now would exist!
Rest or Rise with Helen Bur
If I decided to start with Helen Bur, a British artist, it is to show you from the outset that Street Art in Port de Bouc is resolutely anchored in the human element. This artist does not use spray cans but brushes and paintbrushes to create her works. In a purely figurative style, she manages to change our perception of scenes from everyday life. At first glance, her work reminds us of a giant siesta, which would be quite logical by the sea. When we observe the position of the bodies and the few objects represented, our perception changes and we imagine a silent protest with demonstrators who are not ready to leave. In fact, she has produced several paintings that take up this same mise en scène and has named them “Die” or “revolution”. A contemporary artist to follow on the walls or in the gallery.
Landing in real life with Bom-K
When you look at Bom-K’s work, you tend to get inside his mind and it’s hard to imagine that he started his career as a street graffiti artist by creating lettering inspired by American “big names”. His work has never ceased to evolve towards a sometimes very dark introspection and also towards a search for truth by showing the world as it is: violent, rough, sometimes frightening, often dirty. Underneath the flesh of this face, we can guess the jaw, the bones. The skin is hammered, damaged, time has left its mark. This portrait is both raw and poetic, it makes you think, even dream! This artist is the perfect embodiment of my defence of graffiti artists who are often denigrated. By letting them grow rather than erasing them, we will still have beautiful works in our streets in the future.
Dive into childhood with Elisa Capdevila
This young Spanish artist never ceases to represent childhood and adolescence, but not necessarily lightness or innocence. Her works freeze moments of silence in which an attitude, a look, delicately express a feeling. There is in the look of this little girl with a shy posture a certain anxiety, a small dose of apprehension which makes the scene interesting. After some research I discovered that Elisa Capdevila mainly uses old family photos as models for her works. So she revives her life scenes in XXL version. And I’m not going to hide from you that this little girl is none other than the artist! An artist who, like many, began her career with a long introspection.
Back to dynamism and movement with DIFUZ
As I’m a bit afraid that you might find the street art in Port de Bouc a bit too introspective, I decided to break the rhythm of the article. Nothing like the levitating scene by Diego Konicheckis aka Difuz to get you going again. He created this one by talking to the inhabitants and imagined a neighbourhood meeting where cultures mix in joy and good mood. In his moving characters, with their varied origins, you can still feel some of the characteristics of hip-hop culture. Looking at the details of this fresco with a brush, you can almost hear the music and the hubbub of life.
Entering the fantastic world of MAYE
When I saw this work by Maye in the distance, I couldn’t help but think of his work representing Georges Brassens in Sète. But as I got closer, I realised that here the subject was more serious. The sailor is withering away, he is sinking and his boat levitating on a dry sea makes us understand that the fishing port of Port de Bouc is in dire straits. The heavy industries around the small port have taken their toll on the fish and the sailors have gradually sunk. The boat is called Georges, not for Brassens but to pay tribute to the owner of the campsite who welcomes the artists with great kindness every year.
All the humour of BRAGA in an alley in Port de Bouc
I don’t know why but this self-taught artist amuses me. Of course, like many artists, he is inspired by the urban elements around him before he puts his work down. But each time, I see in Braga‘s work a touch of humour. Here, as at Clos du Chêne, he plays with the place. The alleyway is narrow, the guttering quite apparent; there is nothing strange about seeing a gutter cat in this type of environment. But Braga‘s cat is giant, leaping, firing with his tongue out! His anamorphosis (i.e. 3D realisation) is perfect and I find the contrast even funnier when you see all those cute kittens that invade social networks. I’m not going to hide from you that if I highlight his work once again it’s because I think there is also a very nice technical evolution. The masters of 3D have to be careful; our Marseillais could well surpass them 😉
See yourself in the mirror with Eloïse Gillow
I chose this work by English artist Eloise Gillow for the cover of the article because it reminded me of myself. To those gestures that we all made in the first place. Hiding from the sun, hiding your eyes to avoid seeing a scene, lowering your gaze,… She also made me think of myself as if I were looking in a mirror, the colours I liked to wear, the haircut and even the facial features… disturbing isn’t it? Eloise’s “5 ways not to see” are both poetic and dramatic; they are also about denial, self-protection. Her work has something very academic about it, and also a little extra something that makes you want to follow her path…
Witnessing male solidarity with Rouge Hartley
I think that the proximity of the Mediterranean makes us imagine that we are witnessing a migrant rescue scene. The man whose face is not visible has swollen hands. The weight of the other man can be seen in the curve of his back and the positions of his hands. We feel the strength deployed, the weight of mutual aid. Rouge‘s bodies are expressive and the limbs often powerful, while the faces tend to disappear, leaving our imagination to wander more easily. If this work were set far from the sea, one might think of two men walking away from a car accident. A father carrying his son after a difficult evening. The central theme of the work is solidarity and Rouge‘s work is as powerful as ever!
The soul of painting with Iota
I was speechless in front of this suggested face of the young Belgian artist Iota. I was completely unfamiliar with her work and this is another reason why I find the Festival’s selection fascinating. You get the feeling that the artist is trying to show the soul of her model without the envelope being defined or revealed. There is a raw work that draws the shoulders, the outline of the face and behind it we see the precision of the look. The work is striking and wonderfully executed… I am sure that in a few years Iota will have covered the walls of many cities around the world!
The soul of the Festival revealed by Pablo Astrain
I’m not going to hide the fact that I look forward to each new work of this artist! Of course his style is figurative, but the background of his works is often satirical, even provocative! This scene reminded me of the young boxers from the underprivileged areas who were stuck with frozen coins on their punches to stop the inflammations. No, I didn’t choose to close this selection with Pablo Astrain because I am a “fan of”… But simply because by posting his work on Instagram, his comment sums up Le Festival Les Nouveaux Ateliers perfectly. So I’ll erase my pen to make room for his:
” Bait, magic and hand changes
If you put it on a poster “free”, you make sure that everybody reads it, that’s how we are. A free life sounds better, find the trick. Right now somewhere a magician is preparing a pretty electoral program to trick me, then I applaud and ask for another one. In Port de Bouc two great shows began some years ago and they couldn’t find the coin.Nothing in my pockets, nothing up my sleeves.
Thanks to all the Le Festival les Nouveaux Ateliers team for having me and making it so easy ça va!! Merci port de bouc for taking the time to think!”
Would you like to taste some street art in Port de Bouc?
In fact, if you are in the South of France and you like urban art, it would be heresy not to go! Sincerely, with few means, a nice choice of artists – with a rarely observed parity between men and women -; Street Art in Port de Bouc could in the years to come rival the incredible Festival of Boulogne-sur-mer! The Artistic Direction has been done with finesse and the choice of narrative works extremely judicious for the population and also for us urban art lovers who like to stroll.
The Festival Les Nouveaux Ateliers will allow you to discover young talents, local talents not often put forward and will prove to you that with a lot of solidarity one can achieve very very beautiful things! If you decide, the map of the walls is online on their website and don’t forget to take a break for a snack on the port!
Allez je repars vers de nouvelles aventures Street Art et bien entendu, si vous avez aimé, partagez ! 😉 En attendant le prochain article, vous pouvez me suivre sur Facebook, Instagram ou encore vous inscrire à ma newsletter qui est gratuite !
I’m off to new Street Art adventures and of course, if you liked it, share it 😉 While waiting for the next article, you can follow me on Facebook, Instagram or subscribe to my French newsletter which is free!
See you very, very soon