You might assimilate street art with american culture. Your mind might skip to Basquiat's infamous tag, SAMO scrawled across New York City in the 1970s. You might conjure up more recent imagery of Shepard Fairey’s OBEY empire featuring Andre the Giant and his entire posse. Yet, street art is far from limited to the english-speaking world.
In the pursuit of writing about an up-and-coming new French street artist, Manyoly, I reached out to her with a few questions. I was curious about her inspiration, her motivation, and her experience in this spray-can-universe.
However, before we delve into the colorful world and works of Manyoly, let’s tackle a bit of French-street-art-101.
It was in the 1970s that graffiti really took form and took off in the United States. As for France, the street art scene was already well underway. French street artists were socially conscious and using communist-inspired stencils as well as pre-prepared posters all over the capital city: Paris. The stencils, influenced by communist regimes like Mussolini’s fascism, were applied with freedom of expression in mind, thus transforming these otherwise propagandic objects. Banksy is world-renowned for his witty stencil use, but he has no shame in crediting the French street artist Blek le Rat for uncovering the artistic potential of stencils in the 1980s. The true street art boom happened simultaneously around the world in the 1980s. French street artists like Jef Aerosol and Miss Tic rose to infamy as French street artists began to be recognized internationally. Within the same decade, other French, pioneer, street artists such as Speedy Graphito, Jerome Mesnager, and Monsieur Chat contributed to the proliferation of the French graffiti/street art scene.
In citing all of these names, I can’t help but notice the lack of female artists, with the exception of Miss Tic who uses ingenious wordplay to get across brillant feminist messages. On the other hand, times are a’changin! It is no longer the 1970s or 1980s and women are less and less anxious about sharing the streets with their male counterparts. Manyoly is one of these modern women with a creative message to share with the international community, through traditional canvas painting to the graffiti artists’ canvas: the street.
What inspired you to become a street-artist?
What I do in the street is the continuity of my workshop-work: it has become a balance elsewhere. Working in the atelier (workshop) is very lonely whereas, when you paint in the street, your encounters are rich and varied. It is these experiences that make me want to continue.
Do you have any type of art training?
No, no. I grew up in the atelier of my mother, who is a painter, so that do doubt helped me to know the artist’s tools but it is only as of late that I started painting, about 5 years ago.
Where do you get your inspiration?
Random encounters, converging views, and my travels.
As a woman in this universe, what is your experience?
I have lived only positive experiences up to today!
How did you get to where you are today?
It was a roller coaster: the first year I started painting was the worst and I think all artists go through this phase- the constant doubts. And then, I found an echo of my work in the eyes of certain people: meeting after meeting, trip after trip, I made my way. Today I am lucky to live off of my paintings and that is the most beautiful thing there is.
What are your plans / projects for the future?
Last year, I traveled a lot to paint all over Europe and elsewhere. This year will be a little quieter with some beautiful exhibition projects in France. I am currently exhibiting until February 16th in Paris at the Galerie Deux6, where I’m presenting my first solo show in Paris. In June there will be another solo show in Paris, at Lavomatik. And then some collective exhibitions here and there. And of course there will be the walls!
I cannot wait to see even more of Manyoly’s colorful, powerful women pop up all over Paris and the world. She is only at the tip of her creative iceberg. The French street-art scene is buzzing with a million talents, don’t blink or you might just miss the next big thing.