Mat Thieu is one of my latest favourite finds… what could be better than a French street artist creating chalk art all over Paris?
Mat Thieu draws huge, detailed chalk faces all over Paris. He mainly draws in white chalk, though some pieces (like the one below) have used colour too, which I think is a great effect – it takes the work from gritty to pretty!
The contrast of the light, meticulous chalk strokes over gritty, urban backgrounds really makes the work come alive.
The facial features are almost exaggerated, bigger than you’d see in a real face, yet they are delicately decorated, with some made of beautifully meticulous patterns.
It makes for a really interesting juxtaposition; the faces almost look realistic yet stylised – a perfect blend of sketchy abstractism and semi-realism.
I also just love how fragile the faces appear to be when presented on such a hard, resilient background.
Chalk art is so creative and fun; I love the freedom of it, and the temporary nature of the medium. To me it makes each piece that much more special knowing it won’t last forever. The piece exists for a small snapshot in time and if you are lucky enough to be there to view it then awesome for you!
In fact, the impermanence of chalk art means that there is a very brief period in which to view it. This is the reason I get really excited when I am lucky enough to see some in the streets (rather than seeing just the memory of it in an Instagram photo).
I am also always impressed by an artist’s ability to allow their work to be obliterated so soon after finishing it, especially after spending so much time and effort creating it.
In fact, this is one of the main reasons for my respect for street artists. Everyone knows that art in the street won’t last long without being defaced or ‘added to’, and it’s the artists’ ability to surrender their artwork to the elements and other people so easily that impresses me.
Many, if not most, people form an attachment to a piece of work they have created, whether it be art, writing or even just a diary. It’s not always so easy to just lose the ability to control what happens to it as soon as you have finished it.
You may be familiar with another French chalk artist I featured recently on cosmic traveller, Jordane Saget, aka J3. Since I saw his swirly chalk patterns drawn on, well, everything, in Paris, I have become a huge fan of chalk art.
I am seeing more and more artists experiment with chalk in the street; I guess because it’s not as long-lasting as spraypaint, therefore less chance of being arrested or fined for vandalism (also possibly easier to create and quicker too, especially when on the Metro or on a public street).
Read Street Art: J3
Mat Thieu’s pieces can only get bigger and better from here; I would love to see him experiment with abandoned or broken-down buildings as a background for his chalk faces. I think that would look incredible!
Thanks to Mat Thieu for the photos!