CAN YOU EXPLAIN YOUR CONCEPT ?
My concept comes from a movement we call « appropriation ». It’s a conceptual art from the 70’s and 80’s, with some artists like Rickard Pettibone or Mike Bidlo. Roughly, I use the art icons, especially those I see as masters and I paint them. I make them meet each other in my paintings. I sometimes add a bit of my universe, Graffiti and its artists. I’ve already made some artists meet each other like Rockwell, Basquiat, Hooper, Warhol, Koons, Klein, Haring, Prince, Banksy, Os Gemeos. I keep doing it as soon as I’m progressing and I’m inspired by new artists…I take the liberty to pay them a sort of homage.
So we cannot call your work Graffiti on canevas.
DO YOU THINK YOU BELONG TO A GRAFFITI MOVEMENT?
As we say in Graffiti « Are you still hanging? »… The answer is no. if I did something again, I’d use another pseudonym so you wouldn’t know.
If I’ve belonged to the Graffiti movement, the answer is yes. « I think I can say we strove for the Hip Hop, sorry if nowadays it still offends some» (Joeystarr – French Hip Hop singer ed.)
I didn’t ask to be categorized as a Street artist although I don’t have anything against that. I do paintings, they’re far from Graffiti but I put some on it. I still have a Graffiti influence. I’m not like a lot of artists who claim themselves as Street artists because they’d like to climb on the bandwagon. They haven’t done some streets and even less some trains. As soon as they do the least shit in the street, just to get a « street credibility », they broadcast it abundantly. They even sell the picture…It’s scary.
Personally, I see myself more like coming from Graffiti but I belong to contemporary art, instead of asking me to justify myself. If I change my pseudonym, it’s not to tell my life.
AREN’T YOU AFRAID WE CONSIDER YOUR WORK AS A PLAGIARISM?
If you don’t know anything about art, you can…I use some part of paintings. If you observe the painting, you can immediately see it’s not an original one. If you think that Warhol was a plagiarist being inspired by advertisings icons, or Lichtenstein who used comics or Picasso who used a painting by Manet…
According to you, if they aren’t artists but plagiarists…alright, I accept the critic. You’d be able to call me the « village idiot of urban art » in reference to Cattelan!
Almost everything has already been revisited. When I performed in Graffiti, we kept being inspired by each other, with a style coming from New-York. We add characters essentially from cartoons. The one who invented the style didn’t matter but the dexterity with which we controlled it, especially how, where and in which conditions we produced it.
We shouldn’t forget we worked as same as publicists. But we used the public area illegally and we were hidden. The only goal was the efficiency of what we made. More it was seen, more it was technically appreciated, better we were. Clearly, it was a competition. We get to carry our balls to paint at the best place.
Today, if you look in what we call the urban contemporary art scene, there’s nothing that impresses me anymore.
The old school doesn’t do anything new, even if some of them are real references to me.
In front of their painting, I would like to see them innovating their ideas, creating and to be as important as they were
I’m not speaking about opportunists; they’re different from the movement. To be honest, I don’t even see them.
IT’S INTERESTING WHAT YOU ARE SAYING, GIVE US NAMES?
Ah Names! Always names!!!I You want to speak about ripping off a style. You’ll find a lot of things you’ve already seen from Speedy Graffito in Erro, from Banksy in Blek le rat, from Blek in Warhol, from Fenx in Jonone, from Jonone in the saturation of Azyle, from Rero in Christopher Wool, from Zeus in advertisings. I can tell you a bunch of examples like that. It doesn’t exist only in Street art, but in art in general…The Anglo-Saxons give easily their sources of inspirations. At the opposite, French people want to make you believe they are creators. If you know about art, you’ll find immediately the references by yourself…Well, at the end we don’t care. The work just has to be nice…we did the same in Graffiti.
And, if you want to speak about artists who make warm-up works. I was thinking about artists who haven’t been able to progress on canvas. It works very well for dream legends like Bando, Mode2, Mist, Seen, Dondi, Taki…we buy a part of history, a part of youth. If you know who’s the artist and you put the work itself into perspective, it becomes a little bit complicated for some people. I was the first client but it’s still a purchase fan.
However, if you’re the pioneer or the inventor of a style, you should go out of the melee. Not a lot of people can do it.
Today, the competition is always present between artists. It’s made from the demand of collectors. We can’t lie or imagine we are the best. Galleries are sellers. The best sellers will come to find the most demanded artist. We can’t force what comes to our mind like we used to do in the street. Those who’ll become the most expansive who’ll be the strongest; this is new for the movement. The judge is the market. It wasn’t used to be a question of money…except the price of the fine.
WHAT THE REACTION OF COLLECTORS WHEN THEY SEE ONE OF YOUR PAINTINGS?
From what I heard, it’s quite funny. Either they hate or they love. They take time to watch it, they analyze the technique. My paintings don’t let anyone unmoved. It shows my concept and my work are efficient, they stand out…
When I arrived at your workshop, I noticed you’re starting to work on new artists. The general public especially knows your work on Hooper and Basquiat.
In fact, I work by my side often enough. I work on artists I think as majors in art. I have an endless range of inspiration. They come from sculpture as well as contemporary art, from the street, from illustration or conceptual. But I don’t let everything going out of my workshop. I need to be sure 100%.
The works on Hooper and Basquiat are the first passed in public sales. They offered me a real visibility. The others are still quite underground.
I’m taking out the rest of my work in a short while. Several shows are intended…
WHY YOU DON’T WANT US TO KNOW YOUR NAME?
I rather say…why not?
More seriously, what I do on canvas as Gully is very different from what I used to do in the street. At the moment, I don’t write my name. Why linking my past to my present? When I used to look for a job, I didn’t write my pseudonym on my resume. Here I do paintings, I don’t do Graffiti. I don’t write my pseudonym on my paintings.
I’m telling you a secret. I enjoy being next to people who’re criticizing me, in good or bad way. Especially when they don’t know I’m the artist, the one who created the subject of their critic. If you think about it, it’s a trait I took from Graffiti. When you watch a train you just smashed coming, getting in and you listen the reactions of outraged people.
By now, I can tell…I ‘ll go to see my exhibitions without people know I am the artist.
Since your results, do you know rumors keep coming about you; especially they’re almost unseen in urban arts?
It just shows gossips aren’t only in Graffiti. It’s still some spirit masturbations, Why would you give a shit about who I am? I told you where I came from, it is enough for you. The rest is none of your business. Is it my work or my resume you’ll hang in your living room.
WHICH NETWORK DO YOU USE TO SELL YOUR PAINTINGS?
Right now…only from my agent’s network. It already represented a quantity to produce for me because there’s still a waiting list.
However, as every closed network, it has limits; I’m going to work with galleries which will open me others doors.
YOU LOOK VERY LUCID ABOUT THE MARKET. WHY DON’T YOU SELL DIRECTLY ON YOUR WEBSITE BY DELETING MEDIATORS?
To each his own! And I am a very bad seller. And because those who did it get it wrong and came back to a gallery.
Can you talk about your near future?
I see it beautiful; I’m preparing a solo Show in Paris, and different countries far from France. But everything will be official on time. Right now, I need to produce and to enjoy it otherwise nobody will exhibit my work.