a collection of words and images dedicated to my love: street art.
Friday, November 27, 2009
Friday ProFile: Keflione
Most people think law enforcement is the most dangerous enemy for a street artist. For French artist Keflione (Kefli is French slang for ‘cop), his paradoxical nickname pokes fun at the police. In his experience, it’s not the cops he worries about. “Wild animals are more dangerous than cops!” he exclaims. “I was in the jungle in Brunei on Borneo. I went on my own to abandoned houses in the jungle. Suddenly, a boar which was a meter away in the grass ran towards me. I was alone: no cell phone, no weapons, just a camera. I felt stupid. I didn’t move.”
In 2001, Keflione got into graffiti through skateboarding. “We didn’t know about graffiti first,” he says, “but it was a logical way to do something in the streets exactly like skateboarding. We bought spray cans and started painting. I wasn’t drawing before that, but I started copying letters and fonts. Then I started creating my own style when I chose what I liked best.” His interest in art led to graphic design and fine arts degrees, but Keflione keeps his work on the street. “I only work with my friend Shygun,” he adds. “He’s the guy I started with. We understand each other and develop concepts together.” Currently based in Rennes, Keflione’s painting takes him way off the grid. In the past, he’s bombed France, Germany, Malta, India, Borneo, and Greece. “I was in India with two friends last December,” he recalls. “We were painting in the Kathputali slums in Delhi and there was a wedding in the street at the same time. In India, weddings are really important, so there were a lot of people. The groom who’d just gotten married was drunk and throwing money at the crowd. A group of poor kids fought to get the bills. There was lots of music, color, people, and smiles. The streets were full of kids everywhere, inside houses and on rooftops. It’s something amazing that you have to see for real once in your life: a mix of colors, violence, party, poorness, and thrown money. We added a bit of paint to it.” Other painting experiences were less than pleasant. “When I started, the main place to paint in my city was an abandoned slaughterhouse close to train tracks,” he explains. “It was full of colorful graffiti. We didn’t know anything about it, so we decided to go there at night. We discovered this massive place of graffiti culture in the dark. It was really scary with butcher spikes, tiles, cold rooms, broken glass, and savage cats. When we realized it was possible to come during the day, we noticed some big holes in the floor where they used to throw the carcasses.” In the future, Keflione worries street art will be less about art and more about money. “It’ll turn into a reality TV show or an iPhone application, but a business for sure,” he predicts. However, he doesn’t have any inclination to stray from his roots. “Street art means free galleries in the street,” he insists. “I’m always pushing back boundaries in design, street art, and typography. I love always being different. Currently, he’s working on a “Call Me Majesty” exhibition. The black and white pieces vary in design, font, and graphics but communicate “the same ego-tripping message,” he says, adding, “I’d like to develop my work in bigger formats with better fonts and to get more exposure in the streets. I want to keep traveling and doing my work everyday. I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m going and I know there will be streets and fonts in it.” Cimer, Keflione! For more fantastic shots, peep his website. That's all for now; have a great weekend and I'll see you back here on Monday.