Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Paris Today

This is not Paris today, this is Paris everday, the highway A6.  Luckily it is not my everyday ride.  I hate driving, I don’t even own a car and if someone gave me one I’d sell it.   But sometimes you just have to drive one on a highway, out of town to get what you need.

I didn't have a truck like this one parked on Boulevard Richard Lenoir close to scene of the recent terrorist attack on Paris.

Here’s the car I wanted to take.  I'd drive that anywhere.  Even if someone smashed it in the parking lot, it's still hot. Note: two reasons to avoid automobile ownership in Paris: Damage by others and undesired nightime visits.

The A6 is one of the tarmac belts winding around the city of lights.   It won’t take you to the Hotel de Ville or the Pont Neuf but it will take you to IKEA, Orly and beyond. It may never be on Ricks  Steeves's off-the-beaten path but it is a scenic drive if you're into grafitti.  It's a an extra-urban gallery viewable on a flyby.  The taggers risk their lives.  If you've read my posts about the taggers who die to graff, you know.

funny gifs

Climbing to a heaven spot over speeding traffic, probably at the heart of the night, to bomb the back of a traffic sign has to be risky.  I can't imagine the thrill.  It doesn't inspire me.  But I love the work these anonymous artist do to decorate the A6, an otherwise ugly strip of cement.

 The taggers most likely don't have ladders to climb up to those heaven spots.

funny gifs

I wonder how they access these places and to what extremes they are willing to go.  The A6, or any highway, is an extremely dangerous place to stroll along and spray paint.  The anti-sound barrier is covered wall-to-wall in throw-ups,  kilometers of paint.

Even the cement pylons in the meridian between the lanes are bombed.  Graffers  have to cross one of the lanes to get there, I doubt there is an underground passage.

Why do these people risk their lives to graff these ugly places?  I don't know. I've been researching this for over a year.  Graffiti in Paris struck me when I moved here.  I wasn't used to it.  I doubt I ever will be. What makes graffers tick.  I've come to beleive that it is freedom of expression at its extreme. 

Just entering Paris there is a ribbon of tiles that is there to beautify.  It was surely funded by public money.  Taggers left their mark and paste-ups publicize concerts.  When it's gridlock drivers have the time to read the small type.

Even the underpasses burn with graffiti.

This really is Paris.  Can you see the Eiffel tower?  That's avenue d' Ivry.

Is there a highway near you that is covered in graffiti?  Send me photos and tell me where they are.  I'll post them here.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Paris today.

Self-irony is not an art, any one is capable.  

We are all humans careening on the planet earth in a big black hole called the universe.  

We, earthlings, are exploding together towards some unknown meteorite called death.  

We are connected by our feet to a sphere of minerals,  stuck by a force called by gravity that no scientist or religion can define.  The same ball. 

All our heads in the same atmosphere, in the clouds. 

 There is only NOW.   

THIS is our paradise. 

Why do we have to take ourselves so seriously?  

We are all mortals, fornicating, birthing, educating and dying over and over.


 Freedom of speech is our right as humans, anywhere, everywhere, anytime.


Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Je suis Charlie - #JeSuisCharlie

Vive la liberté d'expression!
Vive l'ironie!

Saturday, 3 January 2015

underground war of tagging in Paris

I've been studying tagger sites for nearly a year.  It’s research for some of my characters in a manuscript I’m currently revising. I want to know how they talk in English and French, what they say, learn their jargon.  I want to know how they tic.  I’d love to interview some and plan to go to a store in the 12th to do so.  I’d love if you (tagger) would send me an image of the initials J.J. (two Js two dots) I’ll post them here on my blog.  It doesn't matter where they are, on paper, in your black book or anywhere else.

This was the last video I watched.  It kind of grossed me out, to think that two Parisian taggers die each year; fall off roofs or touch the third rail and die electrocuted convulsed by 600 to 1500 watts.  Some who die to write are under 25 years old.

Short documentary of tag la guerre souterraine


It’s not a good idea to urinate on the metro tracks either, like this guy did.  Liquid conducts electricity, you know.

Brooklyn Man Electrocuted After Urinating on Subway’s ‘Third Rail’

I don't tag, though once did, long ago.  I was caught because, lo and behold, my mother worked in City Hall and I used the same stencil to send to family friends for Christmas.  That was dumb.  I didn’t get a high from tagging.  I didn't die.

Recently I was back home and noticed one graffiti mural in the whole town.  It was poorly executed but what do you expect if they don’t have and masters to apprentice themselves to.  The absence of graffiti was disturbing, not even a decrepit barn in the country was painted.  I can understand the downtown because it is historically protected.

Where is this place?  Frederick Maryland, a beautiful town, it used to be a wild place.  Now it seems so hair-raisingly tame.

It’s nice to be back home in grungy Paris.  The hair on my back relaxed when my eyes met with these chrome throw-ups along the RER train tracks from CDG to Paris Centre.

 All the bases of the ciment pylons  are graffed.  This place, near Drancy, is home of a scene in  my manuscript.  I plan to make an interactive map that could be published for e-readers. Now send me that tag of J.J. and I'll post the photo here. (two Js two dots) sent to tuscanartist at yahoo dot it. 

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

History of Graffiti: The origin of the word Graffiti

What is Graffiti?
Artemesia restauro, Firenze, Italia

After hours of researching the origin of graffiti, I found that, according to the Global Brittanica, the word graffiti derives from the Italian word sgraffito.

Because I speak Italian I know that the Global Brittanica gives a bad translation and because I am an artist I know their examples, in part, are lame.  Whoever wrote the definition says that in panel painting and illuminated manuscripts the ground was gold leaf.  That is not true.  For panel painting the ground was, and still is bolo.  I'm not sure about illuminated manuscripts but in both cases, graffito technique is not involved.  The Global Brittanica states that graffito technique was especially used during the middle ages but if you go to Florence or Venice you know that those buildings were decorated during the Renaissance.  That's a couple hundred years difference.

So what is Graffiti?

Here is a better definition:

According to the online Italian dictionary Treccani, graffito is a type of decoration used in architecture.  The graffer (my word from the commonly used French word graffeur) inscribes the wet stucco of a façade to reveal an under-layer.  The technique was (yes) used on medieval palaces but mostly done between 1400 and 1500.  In the 1700s there was a revival.  Following a design, the graffer removed the top layer of stucco and a exposed the colored underlayer.

Check out Artemesia Restauro's website. This image shows her doing a graffito.
Artemesia Restauro, Florence


Got it?

Treccani states:
Graffito is done through using a point to incise a surface - stone, metal, plaster, a wall, a vase, you name it.
  • It is a drawing or inscription on a surface or object, more often a wall.  In prehistoric times, documents were incised on rocks and clay tablets.  It seems banking records were incised on stone, thus the colloquial saying: written in stone. 
    Cuniform, courtesy of Iranicaonline
     Paleolithc caves,  catacombs, and  walls  are witness to graffiti.
In Mesopotamia over 5000 years ago scribes recorded information in stone. Saki Mafundikwa gives a wonderful TED talk about ancient African writing.
photo courtesy of

In Pompei, Italy, phallus where commonly exposed outside a house to signify, Hic habitat felicitas  happiness lives here.
foto courtesy of Giovannidellorto
See, you did not invent this dick painting.  Some anonymous artist over 2000 years ago wrote it in stone.

Modern day graffiti seems to have all started in the toilet. Here is an excellent article on the Hiphop-Network:

Looking at the Writing on the Wall: A Critical Review and Taxonomy of Graffiti Texts © copyright 1995 Jane M. Gadsby

According to Gadsby's extensive bilbiography, over sixty years ago men and women  wrote on  bathroom walls.  Could this be the beginning of what we consider graffiti in modern times? She writes that "The 1970s were halcyon days of graffiti research".    

She writes that there are nine different approaches in graffiti writing. "As expected, each researcher chooses the approach which lends itself to fulfilling his/her needs. This has led to a wide array of approaches: cultural, gendered, linguistic, folkloric, quantitative, aesthetic, motivational, preventative and popularisation  

The Treccani dicitonary states that by analogy, graffiti as we know it today, started in NYC in the 1970's.  It states also that the film American Graffiti by G. Lucas in 1973, seems to have ignited the explosion.  Treccani's definition states that the film refers to the documentary value of prehistoric graffiti, a sign of the past.  And it was a revival of taste, fashion, clothing, music of the 1950's.

What is the definition of graffiti today?

Harvard University hosted a reception for the calligraffiti artist el Seed

Listen to what eL Seed says in this video:

Monday, 8 December 2014

History of Graffiti - Documentary: Writers 20 ans de Graffiti a Paris

This 90 minute documentary explains the rise and change of graffiti in Paris starting from the great NYC influence to the newest generation.  It's in French.

Graffiti is a term that derives from the two words: writing and calligraphy.

Graffers did not say, "Hey, let's go grafffiting." They said they were going writing.

A tag is a linear drawing of a name or pseudonym. A graffiti is the stylization of letters.  A graffiti gives form and volume to the letters.  It is personalized.

Wild style was developed in Paris, then freestyle came along, then throwups.

According to the photographer, Henry Chaftan, who documented the book   Spraycan Art, Parisian graffers had a more art school style than the more energetic New York City graffers. 

Street art fascinates me.  I don't condone it or condem it.

Street art is on the street, not in galleries.  That's a cop out.