Wednesday, 20 June 2012

The Art of Paris Streets

There’s all kinds of street art in Paris, ranging from careful and tasteful wall painting, sculpture, both traditional and modern, to the more sketchy and improvised. I discovered purely by chance, just by looking up at the right time, minimalist and decorative adjustments of street signs. Evening, in the rue Saint Martin, walking back from Natasha Lythgoe’s vernissage at the centre Iris, 

I looked up and saw that the white bar of the no entry sign had been delightfully turned into a weight lifted by an angel. 

The following day I saw a couple more, near the rue de Rivoli, only these were human weight lifters, without the magic of the wings. And near the forum des Halles, which looks as though it’s being demolished, although they call it renovation, at the rue Pierre Lescot, the sign for impasse – or as we might say, dead end - has been eloquently illustrated.

The streets of Paris live their own varied forms of communication. there’s the people of course, who talk laugh, gesticulate. And there’s the overt expression as in the street art, and the more deliberate you could say regulated, expression, in visual or verbal terms – sculptured gardens, a declaration, almost homage, to the free press, on the wall of the offices of Le Monde, the tiled frontage of a restaurant, plaques in memory of resistance fighters, surrounded by coloured posters advertising concerts or exhibitions. The visual effect – striking or harmonious – is deliberate, a calculated creativity. 

In the rue Moufftard for example, I stopped to gaze at a splendid display of fish, laid out with attention to space, size, alignment and colour. Fruit shops too, pay attention to colour, size and shape. Shops or restaurants are not just about commerce and consumption they revel in the art of making objects, space and atmospheres pleasurable to see or to be in, this French art of séduire, which has a much wider meaning than the English word

Then there is the life of the streets themselves with all its unplanned immediacy, like walking through the symbols and imagery of a poem. 

Or like walking backstage in a huge theatre, where you see the props, the surfaces in the process of being painted, the clothes arranged or discarded, or being stitched together or repaired, so there is always something that is being painted or renovated, cleaned plastered framed planted in gardens or window boxes, lights that dim or swing, shiver on water surfaces, reflect on glass, a bustle of activity, a shuffling of costumes, sheaves of paper pressed to foreheads, chests, passed from one person to another.


Forest Dream Weaver said...

I see what you mean about the minor graffiti,subtle and interesting.Glad you got to the exhibition at Centre Iris.
Lovely photo of the passageway!


bogpan said...

Whether other eye will see Humanization of Urban?