In the beginning of Beautiful Losers, Ed Templeton says, "I think as a kid, you're always drawing, coloring, and doing crafts and that seems to be totally normal as a thing you do as a kid. I think kind of a weird tragedy is when you become an adult, you 'grow up' and you stop creating. You stop coloring and involving yourself in the joy of creation. I just feel like I was lucky enough to never really lose that." Fortuantely, French artist Oré has two young sons and the high school students he teachers to remind him how to be a kid. Based in Normandy, Oré has left experimental pieces in Le Havre, Caen, Paris, Marseille, Toulouse and other cities outside of France.Oré works hard to see the world through the eyes of a child. "Very often, adults don't see what children observe with attention," he insists. "Children discover the world and are very attentive to their environment." This novel way of seeing the world led him to embrace a unique type of art. "I started doing graffiti in 1989. I was in a neighborhood where hip hop culture was just arriving. Few people knew about graffiti and there were about six or seven people who were doing it. It was magnificent; I was practicing a new activity known to very few people. Like the majority of my peers during this period, I was influenced by Subway Art and Spraycan Art because they were simply the only books published on graffiti. There weren't any magazines or the internet."
As a pioneer of French graffiti, Oré experimented to hone his style. "When I began tagging, I was looking for a name with a few letters to write quickly in the streets," he recalls. "I wanted to choose letters which worked well together, formed a named, and sounded good together. I liked to tag O, R, E, and these letters worked well together. When I added the accent to the E, it formed the name 'Oré,' which sounded good."
After seven or eight years of pure graffiti, a series of fortunate events impacted Oré's style."Graffiti was developing and people were already spreading tags throughout the country," he says. "At the end of the '90s, people grew tired of tags and stopped paying attention to what they saw on the walls. I started to create a more personal aesthetic. My travels to Mexico profoundly influenced me. I discovered Pre-Colombian art and became equally interested in Arabic letters. For me, the link between tags and calligraphy is evident. Like lots of graffiti writers in France, I read Hassan Massoudy's calligraphy books."
People usually respond positively to Oré's work. "I had a great painting in a wonderful spot at the university. All the students new this painting. One night, one guy destroyed it by tagging, so I decided to repaint on this spot. I went on a Sunday afternoon. Some guys were playing soccer nearby, but they stopped playing and came up to me and said, 'Stop doing this right now, fucker! You're painting over Oré! We love his paintings!' I answered, 'Do not worry, guys! I'm Oré. Someone destroyed my painting three days ago. I just wanted to paint it over!' At the beginning, they did not believe me. But after five minutes, they saw my way of painting and they finally believed me. I was so happy and proud to learn that people could protect my paintings like this. For a graffiti artist, I think it's the most amazing thing."
Styles may change, but Oré feels like he's hitting his stride. "I would like to continue in the same vein that I've been working for the past three years," he admits. "I'll collaborate with musicians, directors, photographers, and other painters. I never thought that graffiti could grow into such a big scene." No matter where street art takes him, he doesn't feel like the movement will fade any time soon. "The drive to express oneself in the street is a vital need. It will never go away."
Thanks, Oré! Stay current with his work by visiting his website. That's all for now! I'm ready to relax this weekend and mentally get ready for San Fran next week! If you're in the CT area, the Trinity Hip Hop Festival is on today and tomorrow. I might pop up there and check it out. You should, too!