SP38 is a French street artist, painter, and performer who has been based in Berlin for the past 15 years. He papers the walls of his city, and many others across the globe with what he calls “urban poetry”.
© Roland Verin (2013)
The artist paints very quickly, and repetitively, and refers to himself, regarding his art practice, as a “human copy machine”; a copy machine reproducing the same motifs, and texts on posters to paste them in various places, and countries, and as a human one because what he does is not entirely identical, and includes tiny imperfections that can be found in handmade works.
SP38 mixes silk-printing and painting techniques applied on posters. His words are juxtaposed with symbols such as golden rabbits or blue planes that multiply on his posters as patterns. They could be the wallpapers of children bedrooms. Coming from a tradition of the Lettrist movement or of the “Affichistes” artists such as Jacques Villéglé or Raymond Hains who created their own alphabets, SP38 created his own typography. Adding a limited range of four colours, and those simplified images, to his letters as a very graphic trademark, SP38 makes statements about rather serious matters very casually. “ESCAPE”, “OCCUPY”, “BOMB AMERICA”, “MADE IN DREAM”, “SLAVES”, “VIVE LA CRISE”, “VIVE LA BOURGEOISIE”, “NO PROPAGANDA”, “I DON’T WANT TO BE U’RE FRIEND ON FACE-BOOK”, amongst others, adorn the urban landscape. The freshly printed aspect of his posters echoes the subjects of his slogans that are right of-the-moment.
As many artists, like Jenny Holzer, whose main focus is to spread words or ideas in the public or urban space, SP38 thinks that, “ART MUST BE OUTSIDE”. His provocative and lighthearted slogans, his humour, fraught with irony, and sarcasm, enable him to provoke without being aggressive. He wants to trigger a reaction, a reflection, and potentially some involvement. He wriggles out of his provocation without annoying the viewer. Lightheartedness makes the catchy and lapidary slogans act as catalysts for a serene debate.
From Tuesday February 26th until Thursday February 28th SP38 will take over STATTBAD Berlin facade and create a 20 meter long mural.
Join us together with the artist in STATTBAR for a mini vernissage on February 28th from 19:00 onwards. The evening will be completed with music and drinks to make it a date!
SP38 is a traveller, from Berlin to New York, from Korea to Birma, always on the run. Mixing rabbits, propaganda and urban poetry, his performances and street art actions have spread his red typography mottoes all over the world.
Here’s the latest series of photos from his recent mission in Burma where the United Nations and several other organizations have reported consistent and systematic human rights violations in the country, including genocide, systematic rape, child labour, slavery, human trafficking and a lack of freedom of speech.
STATTMARKT 2012 is an Art only edition, featuring designated artist project spaces combined with a commercial element. Each space will be individually curated presenting a twist to the traditional art market format & resulting in the most diverse array of artists to be showcased in STATTBAD Wedding to date. Works range from Leipzig-based duo DOPPELDENK whose art recourse to traditional visual media and iconographies to capture the dimensions of moral and ethical conflicts in a globalized world, to Berlin Urban Art legends ALIAS & ANTON UNAI using mostly found objects, or “golden garbage” salvaged from the streets of Berlin as a medium to bring street art inside the gallery, through to the colorful world of GIACOMO SPAZIO whose paintings take inspiration from pop culture and visuals associated with punk music.
Project Space highlights will include a large installation by MARKUS MAI & MORITZ ARNOLD whose experiments use movement and light to define space. It draws on basic physical forces and elementary characteristics of the materials used. Through the collaboration of several factors like kinetics, velocity and mirroring an architectural aspect comes into being. The installation understands itself at the same time as an investigation and its own result.
Berlin-based artist VERMIBUS ‘borrows’ advertising posters from the streets, using them as a base material in his studio where a process of transformation begins. Kate Moss is the subject of his latest body of work.
SP38 usually paints like a human color copy machine, mixing silkscreen and paint, rabbits and urban poetry, he has become a master in the field of play on words and provocative sentences. «Vive la Crise» or “Vive La Bourgeoisie” are SP38’s trademarks. At STATTMARKT, SP38 will unveil his latest series of pop-surrealist paintings.
YZ primarily works as a painter producing artworks on kraft paper that can be put on city walls like posters. She is also a photographer and a video artist and she combines these medias to create multi-dimensional projects. Her art is centered on the question of humanity and authenticity in the context of a modern metropolis. Her work has been recently exhibited at the Fondation Cartier & the Grand Palais in Paris.
BR1 is an Italian artist fighting the hegemonic policing of sense imposed by late capitalism by ripping off advertisements from billboards or giving a new face to Muslim women. His works are designed to transmit a social message and bring collective awareness. The point is to fight hegemonic ideas and to give back the public space to the public. With his colorful images and comics-to-pop-inspired portrait, BR1 makes the city more livable and harmonious. His aim is to give social and cultural functions to billboards which, while lacking those, are imposed to society
Thomas “MAROK” Marecki founded the pop culture magazine Lodown in 1995. In addition to his work as publisher and creative director of Lodown magazine, MAROK realized personal and social art and design projects worldwide. In his installment, MAROK likes to create a parallel approach to common things, to link and connect things which are otherwise considered disparate elements, and thus creating a present that is both absurd and real - just like today’s reality.
EMESS, whose work is most often motivated by political questions, will join forces this time with STEPHEN HIAM to execute a performance resulting in abstract expressionistic artworks leaving the interpretation of their meaning open to the mind of their viewers.
Integrating various techniques and influences, the art of BLO is a smart balance between illustration and painting, earning him respect from the graffiti community as well as recognition in the contemporary art world, allowing him to display his work in prestigious venues such as Le Grand Palais in Paris.
Berlin Graffiti king, PROST, whose bold visual statements on society are a crime to miss, is most recognized for his Prostie smileys, but as the artist likes to say, “I’m always and never the same”, expect the unexpected!
KEN is a Berlin-based street artist that has walked the walk. Starting from small scale, on the street he has gone all the way to complicated monumental Stencils. He uses dark nuclear graphics that create a sensation of their own.
Last but not least, any urban art exhibition happening in Berlin wouldn’t be complete without the insiders photos from Berlin based Artist, Blogger and Photographer: JUST. His breathtaking photos are dramatic documents of daring graffiti artists in action. Through them you can vicariously experience the danger and thrills of rooftop writing.
STATTMARKT will feature a total of 15 dedicated project spaces, allowing artists & galleries, to exhibit their work in their chosen surroundings. This year STATTMARKT also teamed up with STATTLAB, our in-house independent print studio, and will be releasing a series of affordable limited edition prints that can be purchased directly from the fair.
Admission* to STATTMARKT is €5 from Thursday to Sunday and €10 including entrance to the after show party, which takes place on December 1st from 22:00 onward. * 3€ (under 25 years-old visitors, job seekers & students)
SP38 moved in Berlin in the middle of the 90s & settled at the level of the 142 Linienstrasse in Mitte. Back in the day it was an artistic house project connected to the Tacheles looking onto a small courtyard with trees that grew up after the WWII. At that time, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, nobody wanted to live in the center east except punks, freaks, local people and alternative artists who used to live in squats.
20 years later things have significantly changed, Linienstr. is now one of the most expensive street where hipsters, bourgeois and agencies are fighting for each single square meter. All alternative artists have been kicked out of the area long ago. Even the trees in the yard of Linienstr. 142 have now been removed to make way for businessmen & compromised artists that sold their soul to real estate companies, even though most of them still claim the underground and their belonging to the alternative urban art scene.
The reality here is artists and creatives are used and later abused to create a buzz, to bring a cool factor to another high end real estate project. Let’s be intellectually honest, it’s not about Art there, it’s about Business. How much does it cost to buy a soul, that we don’t know. What we do know is that where artists and creatives used to live and work for free, space is now available at 8000€ per square meter.
That doesn’t leave us indifferent & we fully support SP38 who’s intervention is meant to question the passers by. The fall of Berlin Mitte as a leading area for alternative art started 10 years ago when the Tacheles was sold. Since then things have only gotten worst. Berlin, what happened to your soul?
“Who Kills Mitte?” is not meant to be “against”, the point is to make a spontaneous artistic action to respond.
Our duty is to denounce the enemy.
STROKE Urban Art Fair returns in Berlin from Sept. 13th to Sept. 16th. OPEN WALLS will present its complete gallery program, feat. new and exclusive artworks from YZ, BR1, SP38, ALIAS, VERMIBUS, CHOW MARTIN & GIACOMO SPAZIO. We also have a special guest: MIMI THE CLOWN.
Within the last three years, more than 60,000 visitors came to STROKE to see artists and galleries from all over the world (Poland, Brazil, Austria, USA, Italy, France, Chile, Spain, Switzerland or the UK - just to name a few). Urban Art is now! For the first time in human history, the majority of the earth’s population is living in urban residential areas. The urban environment and the corresponding lifestyle can be counted amongst the fundamental sources of inspiration for contemporary culture. The historical revolution of visual forms of expression, in which the designs of the everyday streetscape, with its tags, graffiti, street art, advertising or graphic design found their sustenance, define the progression of contemporary art. The urban environment as the literal and metaphorical platform for this development inspires and presents the artists and their work.
STROKE Urban Art Fair works as a parallel universe to the inflated classical art market of the“rich and beautiful”, driven by aggressive investment strategies, auction houses and the greed for spectacular prices. Passion and dedication are still more important than business plans and projections.
All practical information are available on the STROKE Website.
SP38 whose artworks with slogan as “Vive la Bourgeoisie” or “Vive la Crise” can be seen all over Berlin walls is now ending his cycle “Escape” for a new secret-kept artwork. Open Walls has met up with the artist while he was pasting his last “Escape” posters on his favourite wall. Discover a bit more about SP38, his work and his opinion about Berlin and street art.
How are you selecting your walls in Berlin?
This wall is a wall I use all the time, it is very symbolic for me. Augustr. was the place where all the galleries started appearing after reunification. It’s kind of my wall, I want to protect it.
You are pasting the last « Escape » poster. This is the end of a cycle, what are you new creations?
I have a new poster with a new typography, a new drawing –it won’t be the rabbit anymore- and a new slogan. I want it to stay secret for now as I am going to paste it for the first time in Seoul while it will be discover at Stroke Urban Art Fair at the same time. All I can say is that the slogan is inspired by consumption.
Why did you choose to end the cycle « Escape »?
I had been working on it for two years, so yeah; things got to end at some point. Plus, I used this poster for a festival named « Escape » so I thought, when the festival will end, I will go for something else.
For how long have you been in Berlin? How do you think the city has evolved?
It’s been sixteen years that I am in Berlin; I came as I was bored in Paris. I wanted to know Berlin, to see the Tacheles. I’ve always really liked the Tacheles, it was inspiring, looking like liberty… But Berlin has changed a lot, I think, if I was to arrive now maybe I would not stay. Before there was this great alternative life, alternative places, now it had became kind of bourgeois. Yet, Berlin is a place that is still renewing.
You said you were bored in Paris; can you speak a little a bit more about Paris and Berlin? Give us your opinion…
Regarding street art, Paris is business place. Of course a lot of people are doing things, as there is this fad for street art. I think it is too commercial though –apart from Belleville. I’ve got this feeling that people are doing street art to be seen, to become riche and famous… In Berlin, it’s still more free, even if things have slow down, it’s still a production of freedom.
Do you live in a street art environment?
Yes and no, I love to work with other urban artists but my friends don’t really come from this background. It’s more in Paris that I am only with urban fellows.
How did you start street art?
Well, I wanted to paint; I did a training indeed. I started painting in the 80’s in some artist squats. I was quite different from what I’m doing now; paintings, big format. The poster came naturally, I wanted something different. 1991 to 1995 was a fun time, I was with this group named « Zen copyright » and we were pirating events; we all had our slogan or image and we were pasting it together.
Did you start working with galleries quickly?
In Paris yeah, in Berlin the galleries were not so developed when I arrived…
Your artworks are very committed? Have you ever been feeling like changing style?
Yes it is committed, I don’t like decoration, I am fed up with decoration. I think in the street you got to say something. Still my artworks are balancing between political and poetry; the typography is very important too.
What are your projects for the future?
I am going to Seoul for the time for an exhibition and a festival. It’s going to be really nice being there as I have a lot of opportunity; I am going to paint a whole ruff with a crew. This is going to be a lot of fun. The festival is a performance festival as I am also active in the performance field.
Why Seoul? What do you think of the city regarding street art ?
Seoul was by chance, I met some guys, we became friends, you know the story.
Regarding street art, it’s totally illegal over there, therefore there is not so much street art. Yet, there are some quite good things. I remember I saw a « fuck japs » which I liked a lot. It is a really good place in fact as if you do street art in Seoul it will be notice right ahead . And the audience is so huge… Plus there is a real curiosity toward street art even if it what you would call « hype » over there.