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Artist of the Week - Combo

  • Widewalls Artist of the Week
  • Widewalls Artist of the Week
June 25, 2015
Passionate about art, frequent visitor of exhibitions, Widewalls photography specialist and Editor-in-Chief.

Truth be told, we don’t know much about this street artist from France. We know he likes to call himself Culture Kidnapper. We know he is bold and brave – the first thing you will see on his official website is a quote saying “Fear No One, Fear Nothing”. We know he is certainly not a favorite of the French far-right Nationalists party, but we’re also sure that is not something he is really worried about. Combo is an artist who likes to push buttons, tackle obvious yet neglected problems of today’s French society, and use the elements of pop culture as a method of drawing attention, but also reinterpreting the statements of visual arts. His own art is direct, yet subtle, with a sense of humor yet serious, engaging but not judgmental. Combo is a rebel with a great deal of causes that do not only concern his homeland, but also any other country in need of a wake-up call.

  • Widewalls Artist of the Week
  • Widewalls Artist of the Week

Combo - A Social Commentator

Born in 1987 to a Lebanese Christian father and a Moroccan Muslim mother, Combo started painting while at school, as an act of revenge towards one of his professors. Ever since his first piece at the age of 16, his artistic style involved familiar elements from comic books, cartoons, video games, mixed with other iconic images, manipulated according to what the artist wants to express. Whether it’s just pictures, quotes, or both, Combo’s artworks represent a commentary and/or simply a fun view of the world. One of his well-known projects is the visit to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone in 2012, where he pasted up real advertisements that vaunted the nuclear industry. His works on the street do not end with graffiti and wheat pasting – he is also a curator of the 2012 exhibition for pigeons, set up in front of the Centre Pompidou in Paris, featuring about 20 tiny famous artworks installed at the eye-hight of the birds; he painted a large mural as part of a performance piece of the feminist protest group Femen, and he also participated in a performance himself, together with other street artists, paying a tribute to the 162 homeless persons who died in the street over the course of six months.

  • Widewalls Artist of the Week
  • Widewalls Artist of the Week

Vandalized and Beaten by the French Nationalists

In January 2015, Combo claimed he was attacked by a group of young men in Paris while he was creating a mural saying Coexist. The piece consisted of the “C” as an Islamic crescent, the “X” as a Star of David, and the “T” as a crucifix, calling for religious tolerance. The message, however, was not interpreted the same way by the attackers, and their response was violence. “I am not looking for pity because I’m aware of the risks I’m taking with my work,” Combo wrote on Facebook at the time. “But I want to denounce this type of behavior. You can say that my work is provocative, that maybe I was asking for it. But nobody will prevent me from expressing myself, practicing my art, and fighting for my ideas.” Combo’s latest controversial painting involves a modern-looking Joan of Arc and two messages saying “France to the French” (crossed over with paint) and “French Women to the Africans”. The piece enraged the members of the far-right Nationalist party which ended up vandalizing it on camera and calling it “racist and sexist”. As it doesn’t seem that France is anywhere near solving their nation-wide problem of religious and racial intolerance, we will expect to see Combo strike again in near future.

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Widewalls Artist of the Week
Combo’s Work in Chernobyl
Widewalls Artist of the Week
Combo’s mural for Femen
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Combo – Yoda
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Combo – A street show for pigeons

Images via Combo