“Are you an anarchist?”
“I am an artist,” says post-graffiti pioneer Jules Dedet Granel, or l’Atlas, who appeared at the launch of his first NY solo exhibition at Catherine Ahnell Gallery on May 15th. Geometrically hypnotic spectacles that alluded to architecture and street writing, his work muddles the private and public spheres—safety with rebellion.
“So I’m coming from Graffiti, which launched the beginning of hip hop culture in France. I started when I was 12.” Graffiti, which is a message written, drawn or tagged illegally onto public spaces, has been linked to hip-hop. His elaborate underground constructs, made from tape and spray in 90’s Paris, led to his being ‘caught’ (or arrested) in 2001.
He now uses tape and spray for commissioned works and gallery exhibition. Blaming his parents’ cinematic orientation, “my father and mother used tape to put the frame together, and to fix the cables and tables onset,” l’Atlas has ultimately refined his urbane techniques. “Then I got interested in Arabic and Chinese calligraphy,” he says. In particular reference to Kufi codes and Chinese ideograms, graffiti’s roots in Paleolithic cave painting have been integrated with hieroglyphs.
Labyrinthine complexes, equipped with size, symmetry and allusive reference to lithograph, a medium that matches water with grease, l’Atlas’ works speak loudly—and fail not—to inspire photograph. “It’s about typography,” he notes of his works, which evoke calligraphy amid abstract shapes, code and form.
Articulating the juncture of street corner murals, vociferous refinement and poise—this man’s work makes noise. In France the story of anarchy is noted in the color—red, which is mildly spattered unto black and white kaleidoscopic images.
On View: Exhibition May 16 – June 22:
Gallery Hours: Thurs.-Friday 12-7pm, Sat.-Sunday 12-6pm
Catherine Ahnell Gallery: 66 Grand Street #1, NY-SoHo, 10012
Art Review and Photography: Farrah Sarafa