Street art with two faces in La Seyne-sur-Mer, South of France28 October 2023
You might think that Street Art arrived in La Seyne-sur-Mer one day in January 2021, when SNAKE‘s gigantic Marianne was unveiled to the world. The work created such a buzz on social networks that it instantly put the spotlight on the town of La Seyne-sur-Mer, which was only in the early stages of creating its Street Art Festival, Mini Fest.
A few years earlier, the associations L’impasse and Nonem Organisation had created the “Total Graff” event during the “Heritage Days” in collaboration with the town. This event was a significant starting point, with artists such as Hopare, Dopie, Rea One and Eduardo Kobra all taking up residencies. The real birth of street art in La Seyne-sur-Mer took place in the impasse Noël Verlaque. This explosively colourful stretch of graffiti remains almost intact despite the transformation of the area into a modern zone. The shipyards have disappeared and all that’s left is the front door, which now leads to a brand new casino where onlookers can buy their dreams by losing money… As you can see, the area is undergoing a total transformation and I don’t know if this explosive artistic ensemble is going to last very long!
Rue du Graff: the heart of the Street Art reactor in La Seyne-sur-Mer
It’s literally the place to be if you’re ever in La Seyne-sur-Mer. A veritable creative explosion! Crew works by graffiti artists from the south of France rub shoulders with those of international artists. From graffiti to monumental works, this spot stretches over three or four streets and gives you goose bumps because the vibes are so intense!
You’ll find old-style graffiti, block letters, characters, more elaborate works, etc. There’s some legal, some vandalic, and the whole thing feels like a breath of freedom. Some of the original works dating from 2017 have disappeared, while others have been created since. It’s concentrated and explosive at the same time. Personally, it’s exactly the kind of place I love. You don’t find spots like this in every city that claims to have open-air urban art museums!
A little further on, we discover the animals of Dopie, who seem to have come out of nowhere and above all offer a rather explosive mix of genres. Especially when you see a giraffe facing Hopare‘s extremely strong portraits.
The place is chaotic and at the same time, strangely, everything seems to be connected! Luckily for me, I was there on a Sunday morning, so the shutters were closed, which makes for an even more striking spectacle, with the contrast of the Depose typeface against a wall in softer tones by Tom Wild.
As you can see, this place is my favourite street art spot in La Seyne-sur-Mer, but as my feelings are not the same as those of all my readers, I’ll continue the visit 😉
Street art in La Seyne-sur-Mer competes with the National Portrait Gallery!
You can see the humour in the title! But at the same time, I was really surprised to see all these faces decorating the gables of the buildings in La Seyne-sur-Mer. I have to admit that I was a little taken aback. On Sunday morning, the streets were deserted and these faces gave me more the impression of an end of the world where the only human representation was pictorial than anything else. I had the feeling that I was looking at something very egotistical, something inherent in human nature.
Admittedly, the works reveal astonishing and magnificent techniques, the faces are intelligently worked, the frescoes are beautiful… but I can’t understand the link with the city other than the fact that they display a certain mix. What’s more, I’m astonished that women are in the majority when the café terraces on a Sunday morning are full of men! I’m not going to dwell on this subject because I think that this human representation will be the subject of a separate article.
My feelings in no way detract from the quality of these works. The sweetness of Nyota‘s child, the conquering side of Snake Graffiti‘s braided woman and Ensemble Réel’s latest work are all magnificent pieces.
Even the huge woman carrying Shaka‘s world, or the elderly merchant by Mr Difuz, couldn’t give me an editorial line for this open-air museum… Perhaps the atmosphere of the city on that Sunday morning had something to do with my perception of the works… I don’t know what to tell you!
Two works caught my eye! Burn Out by Rémy Uno, who as well as being an artist is also the Artistic Director and Founder of the Festival Les Nouveaux Ateliers in Port de Bouc. It’s a work that echoes the malaise of our society, and I’m not unmoved by this work that gets inside the subject while breaking down reality.
It was Seron MonBatoN‘s Wild Style Graffiti that gave me the energy to continue my wanderings… The desire to smile, to dive into Toulon harbour, to party… in the Bermuda triangle or elsewhere! The theme of the sea is at the forefront here, and as you’ll see, there’s an editorial line to this Mini Fest adventure in La Seyne-sur-Mer!
Sea legends and cetaceans populate the streets of La Seyne-sur-Mer
Here’s a theme that fits in perfectly with the city’s DNA! And how could we not tackle it when we know that Toulon’s immense and incredible harbour is a gateway to the beautiful Mediterranean Sea! Some artists have focused on the surface, while others have lost themselves in the depths.
Here we find the traditional fisherman, immediately reminiscent of Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea”, directed by Tom Wild and Tetal. He is up against a bolder fisherman on his “pointu”, a typical boat from the south of France, who is trying to land a huge whale.
SupocCaos and Grumo offer us a festival of seahorses, which have unfortunately deserted the Mediterranean somewhat due to pollution. Tom Wild focuses on the octopus, creating a beautiful anamorphosis.
I was most captivated by the work of the Argentinian artist Guri. It has the colours and compositions of Latin American walls. There’s an ‘aerosol’ feel to it, reminiscent of the 80s, which brings out the work’s highly complex and detailed structure.
As you know, I’m not showing you all the works that have been created, so as to leave you the pleasure of discovering a few lovely surprises. I’ve tried to make a selection that’s fairly representative of the full range of works you’ll be able to see. Now it’s time for the verdict on this Mini Fest in La Seyne-sur-Mer!
Is street art at La Seyne-sur-Mer worth the diversions?
As you may have noticed, my enthusiasm was somewhat dampened by a certain lack of curation. The most positive aspect of this Mini Fest for me was discovering the talents of local artists mixed with international artists. I would have liked to see a red thread like the one in Boulogne-sur-Mer, or more figurative works in which I could have projected myself, as in Port de Bouc. But I have to admit, I was a little disturbed by this gallery of giant portraits. You should know that I was expecting a lot, perhaps too much, from this Mini Fest, because the Mayor of the town, who has a university background in arts, is pushing it enormously, and it’s on the town’s website that you can find the map of the geolocated works.
Even if it was a little disappointing for me, I invite you to make a diversion to La Seyne-sur-Mer, if only because the lack of an editorial line in no way detracts from the talents of the artists who expressed themselves on the walls. Each work taken separately will give you what art brings: feelings, sensations… what did I miss? A bit of reflection and a link to make the sauce really take hold…
And if you’re ever in La Seyne, don’t forget to dip your toes in the Sablettes’s beach and visit the Saint-Mandrier peninsula before it’s completely disfigured by busy real estates!
I’ll leave you with the enthusiastic little ‘Live’ I did at impasse Noël Verlaque, and promise to be back very soon with new Street Art adventures around the Mediterranean!