Category Archives: personal

Street Art in Paris Pt 7 – Space Invader

i know i’m repeating myself a little here but i can’t resist.

and not just because he’s popular and a little bit well-known,

but because what he does is truly unique, because the work individually and as a collective whole is fun, and because his concept is really coherent.

i’m talking about the street artist formally known as space invader.  he currently has two awesome exhibitions running in Paris (one on either side of town – see here for more details) to celebrate his thousandth invasion on the city.  and that’s not including his hometown of lille or any of the other 40 or so cities he has hit over the span of his career.

the pictures and info that follows is the result of my visit to the exhibition at la general.  upon arrival one enters through what is essentially a large warehouse space through a dimly lit shipping container filled with mosaic tiles.  exploring the space one will find, among numerous other wonders, a perspex box of (used) shoes which have been made with soles featuring a space invader logo, a vending machine of space invader stickers, a two storey high illuminated rubix cube, space invader disco ball and several maps indicating the artists plethora of invasions – all chronologically numbered.

caption: shoes made ​​and worn by invader in his invasions around the world

for sale at the conclusion of the exhibition is beer and waffles – in the shape of the infamous gaming icon.  yes, the man actually manufactured an invader waffle iron.

the more serious work, which is the true focus of the show, is not what i would consider his more traditional or classic work but it’s something he’s been doing since at least 2005. much in the vein of the recent shepherd fairey exhibition i last wrote about here in part 6 of the series, space invader appropriates popular imagery of bands, musicians, actors, films – with a twist.  invader uses only rubix cubes to build the image.  he has even made a rubix cube version of shepherd fairey’s original andre the giant sticker (perhaps in homage to his peer), along with representations of two highly recognised artworks by lichtenstein and hokusai. ‘how postmoderrrrrn! you might say.

what i find remarkable is that he doesn’t deconstruct the cube to use the pieces individually (as with the mosaic tiles featuring in the majority of his street work) rather, he puts the piece together using the entire rubix cube making sure the face holds the correct colours in the correct places to fit the whole image.  i’ve always admired anyone with the patience and skill to solve rubix cube but i think this might have to be one step above!

even with the rubix cube, invader remains within his central theme both visually and conceptually.  the mosaic imagery remains in addition to the reference to gaming and childhood pastimes.  more than anything (and this is becoming a theme for my own work here at tobeilluinated) is the aspect of  fun his work contains.  the colours, the reference to gaming, the score keeping, the act of vandalism/installing the space invaders, the simplicity of his visual style – it lights me up inside.

NB: again, sorry for the poor quality of some of these images


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art student parties

i forgot how much i miss these parties.

one time i went to my cousin john’s grad exhibition and we watched a performance artist throw raw fish and gnawed ham bones around and down his underpants in the middle of a courtyard.  he was next to naked and accompanied by some minimal house music coming from an old school tape deck including the occasional spoken lyrics, “fish to the left, fish to the left” whereby the raw fish was thrust leftward.  to this day anything resembling that phrase amongst those that were there results in fits of rolling giggles.

like my cousins grad exhibition, this little student art party i stumbled on tonight was located on the school grounds and included bottles and bottles and bottles (but never enough) of cheap red wine to be consumed at our leisure.  we were lucky enough to find half a bottle and (in imitation of the others) guarded it jealously under our arm as we perused the work there.

it was no surprise that the show contained some work that was terribly weak and some that was magnificent.  following is some of the more magnificent.  being a poorly organised event, there were no names titles or numbers attached so i cannot give anyone credit.  ALSO i must apologise for the poor picture quality – i only had my phone on me at the time as our attendance this eve was completely unplanned, unannounced and uninvited.  sorry fellas… désolé les gars.

i overheard a funny conversation while two guys looked at one of the pieces.  it went exactly like this:

garson1 – j’ai un question…
boy1           – i have a question…
garson2 – ouais?
boy2           – yeah?
garson1 – pourquoi???
boy1           – why???

this was the one he referred to:

i have to admit, i agree completely.  but what’s one of these shows without some seriously overdone clichéd lame piece of shit???

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caroline bouyer

NB: please excuse for the poor picture quality – click on the links to see better versions and more info on this work


one thing i really love about paris and travel generally is the opportunity for exploration and discovery.  i remark often among friends that there is truly too much to explore and discover in this city and i’m afraid that a year is still not enough to see everything i want to see.

so on the topic of exploration and paris, i’d like to share one of my adventures with you.  yesterday i decided the weather was mild enough to get out of my “box” (what my friends and i have nick-named our tiny top floor studio living spaces) and go for a nice walk around the area of république and further into the heart of northern 11th arrondissment/neighbourhood.  the promise of a number of artists’ squats that i’ve been told are located here whet my appetite for adventure.   the area also has a reputation for being a little more relaxed and ‘alternative’ with more young people residing here.  so with a friday morning to myself i thought, pourquoi pas? why not?

and what did i find you ask? my answer: a trove of hidden treasures of not only several artists squats but some great cheap vintage stores, pockets of amazing street art and most excitingly, painter and printmaker caroline bouyer, in her shopfront studio.  i spotted her beautiful prints in the front window and upon entering the shop was greeted by the artist herself, sat at her workspace next to the radio working on inking up to produce the next print.  the scent of the ink and turps took me straight back to university and my own time in the printmaking studios there.

despite a bit of a language barrier (due to my nerves and subsequent loss of what french language i have) bouyer was extremely accommodating when i asked her permission to take some photos and to write this post.  she told me that intaglio etching is her favourite medium to work with and that the process is sometimes very long.  from sketching the design to rolling the paper and plate in the press, a lot of things can go wrong.  i think this is why i found it so satisfying at university – when i began to hone my technique, less went wrong and when i finally made the ink and paper do what i wanted them to do i felt such a sense of achievement.  printmaking is a medium and skill that i truly respect!

bouyer works within four categories at present: urban landscapes, busts, portraits and the ‘inner world’.  i am particularly fond of the works from the inner world but i must admit i’m fond of them all.  i find the appearance of texture and it’s effect on the light and the shade of the works to be really delicate and it’s clear that sensitivity and skill have been applied to all of the work you see here.

click here for bouyer’s web site and more of her work if you like what you see.

following is also a short film you can find on the artists site (particularly cool if you are interested in the printmaking process!)

Caroline Bouyer : Gravure from on Vimeo.


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so this is a post about the  jean-michel basquiat exhibition i recently visited at the modern art museum of paris here in the 16th (which is just next to the must visit restaurant, tokyo eat at palais de tokyo).  i studied his work briefly at university and at the time i remember being intrigued.  to be honest my main thoughts were, ‘how could he have become so famous just by painting like a child?’ which i think might be a common thought when viewing his works and others of a similar style.

but famous he certainly was and still is, the evidence in plain sight upon trying to see this exhibition week after week, always with a queue halfway down the block.

i think a lot of the answer to this question may have something to do with his famous friends. some include blondie (whose music video he once starred in), david bowie (who later played the role of andy warhol in ‘basquiat’ the film) and madonna (who he briefly dated).  in the later years of his career he collaborated for some time with andy warhol who became a close friend. it all goes a long way to reinforce the old saying about who you know as compared to what you know!

raw use of colour and ideas on the black/hispanic/african experience in north america, on consumerism and on the constraints of convention on the individual dominate much of his work (click here or here for more background info – it’s far too much for my little blog).  basquiat’s background as a poor, black/hispanic, terribly intelligent child seems to have a lot to do with where he and his art ended up.

i believe that as a teenager and in his early 20s basquiat was a serious rebel but quite an intelligent one. the beginnings of his public art making was the graffiti he scrawled all over lower manhattan with a friend, al diaz.  they called themselves SAMO and although basquiat moved from walls to canvas the style of the work changed little.

text was a common feature of all of his art.  for me a lot of it didn’t make much sense and wasn’t totally coherent with the images presented.  i would have loved the chance to speak with the artist himself!  it is apparent that a great portion of the work was thrown out onto the canvas stream-of-consciousness style, my lovely man asked me towards the end of the exhibition, ‘was he schizophrenic?’

indeed the sheer quantity of work is overwhelming and it’s evident that this guy had a serious and sincere compulsion to express himself, to create.  probably due to his visual style, one interviewer asked basquiat if there was anger in his work, to which he responded, ‘it’s about 80% anger’.

i felt this strongly while at the exhibition with many pieces that looked to me to be two-thirds finished with a plethora of paint drips on the canvasses and scribbled out text and images.  some say this kind of process could be interpreted as a rejection of conventional, institutional or more rigid forms of art – even a casting off of conventional society in general.

it is no secret that the artist indulged in drug use throughout his life-time. perhaps inevitably basquiat developed a serious heroin habit which likely contributes to the “schizophrenic” scribbling evident in most of his work.  a combination perhaps of the pain from his childhood, his struggle with fame and the fortune and certainly the drug use itself, the artist became intentionally more and more reclusive and eventually died of a heroin overdose at 27 years old in 1988.

somehow i find his life slightly more interesting than his work – maybe a nice little quote from the man himself which might best sum up his life:

i had some money, i made the best paintings ever.  i was completely reclusive, worked a lot, took a lot of drugs.  i was awful to people.

sounds like, sadly, a life half-lived to me.  i don’t know how illuminated that is, besides the brightness of his spark that never quite reaching its optimum clarity.


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french women

after a very indulgent christmas and new year period i am now gently thinking a little more purposefully about what i’m putting on my plate (see my previous post here for more ideas on this topic).   i know it’s very cliché but here in Paris – and especially here in the affluent ‘new money’ 16eme arrondissement – for the most part, french women don’t get fat.

walking around the neighbourhood one is not only exposed to the array of extremely well dressed men and women but those who are also tremendously slim.  a couple of times (even with my glasses on) from across a narrow street i was shocked to have mistaken a possibly 60-year-old woman for a woman in her 20s.  due to her dress sense and sheer size this woman performed a photoshop style optical illusion right before my eyes.

since this incident i have had my eyes peeled for such phenomena and have witnessed several more examples also from the male sector of the community. it cannot be denied that parisians are particularly good at this trick.

a lot of people say it’s about starving yourself, some say the french are just built lightly from the beginning and for others perhaps it’s the symptom of a hectic stressful working week.

however, mireille guiliano has different ideas, as demonstrated in a series of books i have been hooked on for some time now – french women don’t get fat.  a lot of the content speaks of portion control and nutritional awareness however she believes the most important aspect to getting rid of and keeping away unwanted extra weight is through the thorough enjoyment of the pleasure of eating. i like this concept a lot!  guilt and food always seems to be an unhealthy combination to me – for the body, mind and spirit.

she includes a handful of easy practical tips for the post holiday wind down too.  So, needless to say I am currently eagerly devouring mireille guiliano’s words and recipes from her french women don’t get fat cookbook.

you must read any one of her books for yourself to truly understand what this woman is about but i really believe that it’s her love and passion for delicious food that inspires me to eat more consciously.

i love this line of her biography,

mireille’s three favourite pastimes – breakfast, lunch and dinner

moi aussi, mirelle!


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oh sugar sugar

hands up, who else has a sugar addiction?

you may not be the blatant kind of addict who likes to put too much in your tea or snack on lollies/candy/bonbon all day or pour half the sugar jar in with your weet-bix in the morning.  or you might be.

or you may be the more discreet style of addict (like me) who snacks on pastries after lunch and pours streams of honey into her mint tea.  or maybe you enjoy a few lines of your favourite chocolate during the week as a little reward to one’s self for coping with… well, one’s week at large.  in fact, good quality chocolate is an intimate friend of mine.  although i try to stick to the dark, less sugary, less fatty kind and often opt for organic – green&blacks 85% is my absolute favourite – i still tend to binge on the less healthy kind far too often.

oh and if anyone has heard of angelina on rue de rivoli here in paris you will understand what i mean when i rant about the impossibility of passing by that place without stopping for one of their luscious ‘africain’ hot chocolates. but that deserves a whole other post entirely to itself.

my point is this: whatever your sweet drug of choice, if it’s derived from or includes any sugar you can be sure it is oh so bad for you.  i recently came across a post by sarah wilson, an australian journalist, and television producer/personality, who has an excellent blog about the betterment of self.  she will post an article on the topic of how bad sugar is for you on her blog in a five part series over the next couple of weeks.

she outlines that back in the day (around 200 years ago and earlier) humans barely ate sugar and only that which can be found in fruit or honey, which was scarce or difficult to come by until fairly recently on the scale of human existence.  so the body’s survival mechanisms are set to store as much of this kind of energy source as possible due to it’s belief in this scarcity.  so basically, we are biologically programmed to gorge on this kind of food if and whenever it is in reach… no wonder it’s so difficult to resist the little lemon tart in the window on the way home from work.

there’s so much more info on sarah wilsons’ post on the topic (found by clicking this link) than i can fit into one post but briefly:

the energy highs and lows of sugar addiction are damaging to not only your own brain but especially the developing brain of children and adolescents

there is more and more scientific evidence displaying that it is sugar and not fat that produces the excess unwanted fat in our bodies

there have been studies that show that sugar is more addictive than cocaine

sarah is bravely committing to quitting sugar entirely for a month.  i’m not sure i will be quite as saintly but i’m definitely going to lay off the sugary treats and when i next walk by the patisserie/boulangerie i will make sure i don’t go in. it should be especially beneficial after the holiday period!

maybe i can limit my sugar to the weekends and make sure it’s truly more of a nibble than a binge…


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“mac doh”

image by don mac illustration

pronounced “mac doh” is the frenchy nickname for the worlds most loved and hated fast food outlet. these crazy parisians seem to love it.  i’m at the indifferent/hate end of the spectrum.  the grease is alright when severely hungover – but i certainly find better quality grease elsewhere.  and besides all the well known and publicised massive corporate, environmental, health, economic issues,

THE COFFEE IS SO SO SO SO BAD. why am i drinking it then? especially in a city where good coffee is abundant and cheap? you might ask.  because i don’t have any internet connection in my bleeeping apartment at the moment and the bleeeeping cafe where i might otherwise have connected and had a NICE coffee is CLOSED.  and i can’t sit here and use the internet unless i buy something from this godforsaken place.

IF there’s a next time
i’ll be opting for water.


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