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Graffiti gets into the Grand Palais

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Outside the Tag graffiti exhibition, Grand Palais, Paris

Outside the Tag graffiti exhibition, Grand Palais, Paris

Under the glass-panelled roof of the Grand Palais, the Tag exhibition marks an important moment for graffiti. It’s the first time such a collection of street art has been housed in a neoclassical building, which is more used to displaying collections of fine art.

The Tag exhibition, organised by architect Alain-Dominique Gallizia, contains 300 pieces, and runs until 26 April. Each piece has only two unifying principles – a canvas of the same dimensions, and the artist’s interpretation of the theme, Love.

For one of the exhibitors, Richie Mirando, known as Seen or the Godfather of Graffiti this is an important moment in the history of graffiti. After being involved in graffiti for more than three decades, he explains that this is significant in the development of the art form.

“Honestly, it’s very impressive,” he says, “I think that I can help along the way, bringing this into more of a positive place. Like now, thanks to Alain, with the Grand Palais, it’s amazing that he got us here.”

Richie, who grew up in The Bronx in New York City, thinks the exhibition is really making an impact.

“Now that they can see it indoors, in this case on canvas, it will open their eyes that there is more to it,” he says.

And amongst the buzz and clamour of visitors, Richie reflects on Parisian graffiti, which he says has its own unique style.

“Here in Paris, I see plenty of colour, I see a lot of pinks, purples, and blues. Bright vibrant colours, a lot of yellows, happy colours.”

Richie likes Paris so much he has opened his own studio, and currently sells his work direct to customers via his website Blkmarket.

“I plan on staying here, I’m a workaholic. If I don’t work, I go crazy! I need to create things to keep my mind moving. First thing we did was open up the studio, so I have a workspace.”

But now that graffiti has been accepted into the French art world, does Richie still have the desire to paint subway trains? And would he like to spray the Paris Metro?

“No, that’s what I don’t want to happen: them to tell me, you gotta go back!”

Flickr Slideshow

Radio France Internationale

Written by Daniel Finnan

18 April 2009 at 18:19

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