Let’s take a trip ~ to a new street art exhibition on the walls of a castle in Aveyron, France.
The Château de Belcastel is a medieval castle in the village and commune of Belcastel, in the Aveyron département of France. It was officially declared a historic monument by the French Ministry of Culture in 1928. It is here that visitors will find a street art exhibition of murals, paintings and lithography entitled Legend ~ A group exhibition with seven internationally established contemporary painters who have interpreted the rich history of this medieval warrior fortress through its legends and lore.
During mid-May and mid-June the artists-in-residence will reside in the chateau and work on site, where visitors can observe the creation of murals that will occupy more than three thousand square meters on exterior spaces of the historic monument. Each artist will contribute original paintings to an exhibition in the principal gallery, and create a limited-edition print at the atelier of IDEM in Paris, especially for this exhibition. The collection of new prints will be signed by the artists, and exhibited at the château for the season. Alexis Diaz and INTI will remain for a week or two after the vernissage to complete a large collaborative mural on the premises.
Below are a few of the artwork, part of the exhibition, Legend, in and around the castle.
Above, HERA from HERAKUT ~ In 2004, the German street art duo, Hera and Akut, formed a partnership, working successfully together on various projects around the world – from Toronto to Kathmandu, from San Francisco to Melbourne. It is their intention, through their collaborative creative process, to open a dialogue with the public by telling stories with their imaginary, of fantastical worlds, larger than life, on city buildings.
Hera works first, setting the stage, in a truly theatrical sense, and creates the story with landscape, character form and proportions, and then Akut paints the
photorealistic elements. Together they experiment with different formats, materials and methods. Hera is also a conceptual artist, choreographer and costume designer, and employs dancers to enhance, embellish and expand her paintings into the realm of 3-D.
Herakut’s work was embraced by the fine art world in 2013, with an extraordinary exhibition at MUCA, (Museum of Urban and Contemporary Art) in Munich, where paintings and installations were characterized by their sensuous, narrative style and ability to lead the viewer into new realms of the imagination. Their work speaks of collective constraints and struggle, power, triumph and love.
Above, Case Maclaim ~ Case Maclaim was born in 1979 in East Germany. With a degree in art conservation, he took to the streets to play with spray paint. In 1999 he teamed up with Akut, (the male half of the Herakut duo), and Rusk to collaborate on large-scale projects. Two years later, Tasso joined the group and the new street art collective came to be known as the Maclaim Crew. This group of young and talented artists emerged onto the international street art scene like a bomb! They designed and created some of the best photorealistic graffiti the world had ever seen. Even then, as the Maclaim Crew was gaining momentum and international attention, Case stood out with his unique style and vision. He became as passionate in his studio as on the streets, and pursued a private artistic career on canvas in his studio with sedulous dedication.
One of the most interesting aspects of the Case Maclaim murals, is the texture of the surfaces under his paintings. To make a smooth background he first covers the thing he intends to paint with cardboard – normally a lot of it, and in various sizes, usually from the spray paint can packaging, all held together with glue, staples and tape.
Today, Case Maclaim is regarded as one of the most innovative German street artists and one of the finest photorealistic aerosol authors in the world. The urban art scene popularizes every new graffiti he sprays, and his public commissions make spectators to stop and admire his monumental paintings.
Above, INTI ~ Inti Castro, or INTI, is one of the most important street art painters in Latin America today. His dedication to muralism escalated in the early 1990’s at the end of Chili’s era of dictatorship, when the graffiti culture exploded. After formal artistic studies his large-scale works became sensationally popular because his masterpieces in the streets created such provocative dialogues with the public without any burdens of censorship.
Years later, after much research and exploration throughout the continent, INTI discovered the post-modern melting pot where European, Indigenous and African influences gave rise to a collaboration of a rich multi-cultural history. Inspired by this knowledge, his newfound artistic freedom and a lack of boundaries, he created the unique aesthetic that he is renowned for today. With an avant-garde flair, he paints beautiful costumes that combine contemporary and traditional fabrics. To the Artist, this work represents a borderless continent stitched together with scars of the nation’s turbulent history.
INTI moved to Europe and began exhibiting in galleries and taking high profile commissions worldwide. His global perspective speaks of the conflicts between contemporary belief systems and a utopian society. He advocates a spiritual philosophy that brings together all peoples in a celebration of their unique identities in a world full of colorful and complex customs and beliefs. More
Above, Alexis Diaz ~ Fascinating beasts of monstrous proportions crawl out of the primordial imagination of Puerto Rican artist Alexis Diaz. Wielding brushes and paints, first he reveals a portion of an anatomically correct animal that exists in perfect harmony with our natural world. Then his brushes turn surreal, and with graceful strokes and the precision of a master, a creature emerges that is shocking in its incredulous impossibility- a blunder of mother-nature, and yet all the more captivating because of its hyper-realistic detail. Finally, when the work fully emerges, it is a visual spectacle. The freak show dream-world of Alexis Diaz is so unique that the walls and buildings he has embellished in many of the world’s major cities are easily identifiable.
His inspiration for the collaborative mural with INTI is from the legend of Mary Magdalene, who many believe lived her life in this region after the death of Jesus
“I’ve always dreamed of creating art for everyone to enjoy. Art that is accessible to everyone, regardless of the social situation. The poorest as well as the richest. That’s why I prefer to work in the street”. – Alexis Diaz
Above, Marco Mazzoni ~ Italian Artist Marco Mazzoni uses only colored pencils to create beautiful, elaborate drawings, in which the central subject of his portraits often appear to be surrounded by a plethora of organic flora or fauna. Through this symbiotic harmony an all-consuming relationship between the two emerges, and is realized in great detail.
The exquisite face of a bird or a woman may be set within a wreath of butterfly wings, perfect flowers, or other vegetation, representing an organic symbiosis between the players of our natural world and their not altogether unconscious desire to neutralize each other.
Marco Mazzoni discovered his passion for drawing at the age of 14, and has since exhibited his works in galleries throughout Europe and the United States. His deepest artistic inspiration comes from Masters Rembrandt, Goya and Ribera. He spent many hours devoured by an obsession to understand their mastery through practice and sedulous dedication. More
“Artist Marco Mazzoni is based in Milan, Italy where he works from his studio creating amazingly detailed color pencil drawings that have captured the attention of collectors from all over the world.” – excerpt from Hi-Fructose interview
Above, BOM.K ~ Born in 1973, raised in the suburbs of Paris, at 17 Bom.K devoted himself tirelessly to painting on walls and in vacant lots. He discovered his own artistic style and perfected a technique of extreme precision that is instantly recognizable in the urban art world. He works in the streets with aerosol cans and creates another of the tormented creatures that spring forth from his boundless imagination. His work is instantly popular in the streets, and fine art galleries as well.
Bom.K’s compulsion to communicate artistically what he sees, living just below the surface of humanity’s urban places, is a wake-up call to the world community. These beautifully painted under-worldly creatures are deprived of light, anguished, contorted, and malnourished, yet they speak a powerful truth, without malice or cruelty. Their mutated existence suggests that only radical change can heal what is wrong in this world, and these beings are part of the only solution- to aggressively promote multicultural understanding. Consciously or not, Bom.K’s work attempts to transcend his own culture, and speak directly to our common humanity.
The prison Gallery at Chateau de Belcastel is the perfect venue for BOM.K, and his inspiration came from imagining how the unfortunate travelers must have felt, waiting for freedom or death.
An educational component of this exhibition aims to explore the history of street art not only as a form of urban expressionism that has impacted the fine art world, but as a compelling form of storytelling with primitive roots. Visitors will be able to learn about the artists through a collection of short films featuring time-lapse videos of murals they have painted around the world.
The exhibition, Legend, at the Château de Belcastel is curated by Heidi Leigh and Christopher Courtney, produced by my FINBEC and Château Belcastel, and supported by MONTANA. Legend will be on view to November, 2021.
Above, a short video on the Château. Even if you don’t speak the language, you might enjoy the tour.
Château de Belcastel is located in Aveyron, between Villefranche- de-Rouergue and Rodez, 20km west of Rodez, and by the way, the castle has one tower suite ~ a B&B ~ with modern amenities and luxurious accommodations including a private pool.