“Speedy Graphito”

Speedy Graphito is not a street artist!

Pertinence and impertinence… These are the traits of Speedy Graphito’s artistic journey, as revealed by the retrospective on him currently being held at the Musée du Touquet in France. See for yourself. How did you become Speedy Graphito? I’ve always painted, and I took my first drawing lessons at the age of nine. From then on, one thing led to another: I created stage sets between 14 and 20 years, and then I went through five years of training at an art school, including two years at the Ecole Estienne in Paris. My first paintings produced under the name of Speedy Graphito date back to 1984, the same year as my first exhibition at the Espace Pierre Cardin. Afterwards, the gallery Polaris – run by France’s youngest gallerist at the time – decided to back me. It was my creation of the poster for “La Ruée vers l’Art” in 1985 which ensured me sudden, immediate notoriety throughout France. Then came exhibitions, solo shows at the FIAC, and street-art interventions on the walls of Paris… “La Ruée vers l’Art” is incidentally the starting point of the show on you at the Musée du Touquet, the gateway that allows us to sweep through more than 30 years of your career. Is this retrospective important for you? I find that it’s important, at this stage of my career, to show the different periods that have marked the last few years, because people mainly know the recent works that they’ve seen on Internet. The show is a way to present series that seem dissociated from the rest, but which slot in with a global approach. The 70 paintings on show mainly come from my own collection: I try to keep at least one painting per period. Something else that is important in an...

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Invasion of French street artists in Los Angeles

Paris, 11 April 2013, Art Media Agency (AMA). Frenchies are now the bomb in Los Angeles! It was a tough position to achieve in this mostly art protectionist city, where defending Californian and American artists was very strong. But thanks to the work of French gallery owner Fabien Castanier – who settled in the “city of angels” about ten years ago – French street artists are now sailing towards success! Speedy Graphito, JonOne, Rero and their mates are unavoidable on the American market, where they were unnoticed until now. They gained quite an amount of success at Art Miami last December, where Rero presented an installation and Speddy Graphito painted a 7m x 4m wall throughout the course of the week. He took pictures of the fresco before partly covering it with black paint: the idea was to show that people could see the entire image by the means of a flash code. While the wall was set to be destroyed at the end of the fair, it was bought by a collector on the spot! The enthusiasm was the same at Scope New York, where “people were amazed and quickly understood the meaning of the works,” according to Fabien Castanier. Speedy Graphito, who is presently preparing an exhibition that will open its doors on 11 May, obtained “a visa for famous artists that was really hard to get,” said the gallery owner. What amazes me with Speedy and Rero is their indwelt American culture, which is visible in their work! That’s their key to success! The fame electroshock of street art in Los Angeles (that has become obvious) was the theme of Jeffrey Deitch’s exhibition organised at Geffen Contemporary at the MOCA “Art in the Streets” from 17 April to 8 August 2011, one year after he took...

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Christie’s Paris’ charity auction in support of Madagascar makes €279,600

Paris, 1st February 2013, Art Media Agency (AMA). Christie’s Paris’ charity auction “Artists’ Angels for Madagascar”, patroned by the UNESCO and held on 30 January 2013, brought €279,600 to the non-profit organisation “Des Villages et des Hommes”. This sum will fund action programmes in Madagascar, encompassing the renovation of historical homes in the village of Antoetra, birthplace of Zafimaniry art and the construction of new houses, respecting the tradition and know-how of this sculptor-people from the high plateaus of Madagascar. François de Ricqlès, Chairman of Christie’s, declared “It seemed important Christie’s should be committed with them. The auction organised in order to support the action of “Des Villages et des Hommes” and give better access to water, sanity, education and a decent home has been a great success. The 75 works on sale have all been purchased.” The work of the Zafimaniry, presented for the first time in France, listed since 2008 as part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of the UNESCO, has the specificity of featuring doors and shutters carvings. 75 contemporary artists have therefore printed their own mark on these objects. Sans Titre 2012, by Philippe Pasqua, acrylic paint on wooden shutter representing skulls, was auctioned €9,000; and Jungle Fever by Speedy Graphito (spray and acrylic paint on wooden shutter) rose...

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Interview with Speedy Graphito

Paris, 5 December 2012, Art Media Agency (AMA). Speedy Graphito is exhibiting through 22 December “The Essential of Painting 1987” at the Polaris Gallery in Paris, an occasion of discovering through a selection of works the multifaceted and polymorphic creativity of this representative of Street Art, who shows there his ability to overcome labels. Art Media Agency had the pleasure of meeting him. Art Media Agency (AMA): On occasion of the exhibition at the Polaris Gallery, you resume your collaboration with Bernard Utudjian, who has represented you from 1985 to 2003. What could you say about this comeback? Speedy Graphito (SG): Bernard Utudjian came to me two years ago. He wanted to celebrate the 25th anniversary of his gallery, and since I had been one of his first artists, he offered me a retrospective. Though I have become famous on the Street Art scene, only few persons know my background and my work’s genesis. This is the story Bernard wanted to show. Because of space constraints in the gallery, we chose to focus the exhibition on a major element of my work: Lapinture. Altogether there are only few pieces on sale, five canvases and a few publications. Most of the pieces on display are part of my collection, or of Bernard’s, and neither of us wishes to let them go. AMA: How would you define your career?
 SG: I have always been a painter: drawing lessons at 9, creation of theatre settings from 14 to 20, five years of art school (including two at the famous Ecole Estienne in Paris).  My first works as Speedy Graphito were made in 1984, the year of my first exhibition at the Espace Pierre Cardin. The Polaris gallery, owned by the youngest art dealer in France, decided to represent me. In 1985, I...

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Speedy Graphito in Lille

Lille, 12 May 2011 Art Media Agency (AMA). From 7 June to 14 August, the New Square Gallery will be hosting “Back 2 Venus”, an exhibition of recent works by Speedy Graphito. Olivier Rizzo, also known as Speedy Graphito, influenced an entire generation by bridging the gap between Figuration Libre and French street art of the 1980’s.  He rapidly made an impact with his innovative and hard-hitting style, which is succinctly conveyed by his pseudonym.   On his website, the artist states that Speedy Graphito signifies the path that leads to the beyond by means of gesture. His grafittis are painted or made with stencils and represent schematic and dynamic characters that are reminiscent of the work of Javier Mariscal, a Catalan graphic designer or that of American painter Keith Haring.  Rizzo principally draws his inspiration from pop iconography and video games.  He is a multimedia artist and has created paintings, videos and especially digital artworks, of which the most important is Welcome to Venus, a veritable turning-point in his career. The New Square Gallery in Lille wishes to honour the artist by exploring his work of the past twelve years, ever since the creation of the first Venus painting.  ...

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