French street art

Zevs /   Christopher Aguirre Schwarz

France 1977

Street Art, Graffiti

Christopher Aguirre Schwarz
December 12, 2013

Since his early days working on the streets of Paris during the 1990s, Zevs has risen to become one of the most prominent figures on the contemporary street art scene. He is best known today for his trademark “liquidation” technique, in which he transforms seemingly solid images into evocatively dripping ones that are perhaps more unstable than they seem. He has experimented with a number of methods in his graffiti, canvases, and performances that help him to subvert the unmistakably ubiquitous commercial and Hollywood driven culture of the twenty-first century.

In the past, this has included a high profile “kidnapping” of a figure from a billboard, an infamous arrest following his creation of a large-scale mural of a liquidated Chanel logo in Hong Kong, and his Visual Violations series, in which he blurs out the faces of figures like Jim Morrison and Marilyn Monroe. With his work, Zevs offers a commentary on the lasting widespread influence of these figures, as well as corporate logos ranging from Louis Vuitton to Coca-Cola to Apple, on contemporary culture. No matter what he does to them, these images are instantly recognizable to nearly everyone. Yet, at the same time, his denial of these images via liquidation or otherwise confirms that, despite their apparent strength in our culture, these icons are not invincible: quite simply, nothing lasts forever. In combining a street art mentality with a Pop Art usage of popular culture in a way reminiscent of Warhol, his work manages to both highlight and subvert what is, in many ways, the very essence of contemporary culture.

Zevs was born in France in 1977, and first gained renown as a street artist in Paris during the 1990s. Since then, he has extensively participated in exhibitions and performances worldwide, including at the 2010 Moscow Biennial, New York Carlsberg Glyptothek (Copenhagen), the Mechelen Cultural Center and the historic Cabaret Voltaire. Zevs is not only one of the most political artists within MSAGallery’ already partisan roster, he is becoming seen as one of the more inspired practitioners of mischievous street work. His Liquidated Logos series, first displayed at the Soho gallery in November 2007, are arguably the most direct and recognizable examples of the oeuvre. His activity on the street has drawn much controversy and attention from the ‘high art’ world, blurring as it does the line between ‘street pieces’, conceptual art, and plain old-fashioned angry vandalism. Most notorious were his examples of ‘visual kidnapping’ where Zevs removed entire figures from over-sized adverts. At Berlin Alexanderplatz a vast, garish, hanging billboard for Lavazza coffee found itself without its female lead. Zevs ‘demanded’ a 500,000 Euro donation to the Palais de Tokyo art gallery in Paris for her return. Other techniques have included simply ‘cleaning’ a picture onto a dirty wall using high pressure steam cleaners, obviously toying with the notion of whether graffiti is a blight upon the landscape or a complement to it.

YearGallery/Museum/Name of ExhibitionType
2013Cultural Hijack - AA Gallery - AA School of Architecture, London, England
2012Détournement: Signs of the Times - Jonathan LeVine Gallery, New York City, NY 
2012Art & Toys – Collection Selim Varol - me Collectors Room Berlin, Berlin 
2012Domination, Hegemony and The Panopticon - Traffic, Dubai 
2012Facetime - On Stellar Rays, New York City, NY
2011Liquidated Version, De Buck Gallery, New York, NY 
2011Summer Selections, De Buck Gallery, NY
2009Euro Liquidated, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, FranceSolo
2009Visual Attack, de Pury & Luxembourg, Zurich, SwitzerlandSolo
2009La Force de l'Art 02, Grand Palais, Paris, France
2009Urban Art aus der Sammlung Reinking, Neues Museum Weserburg, Bremen, Germany
2009Galerie Patricia Dorfmann, Paris, France
2008Electroshock, Ny Carlsberg Glyptothek, Copenhaguen, DenmarkSolo
2008TINA B. 2008 TINA B, The Prague Contemporary Art Festival, Pragues, Czech Republic
2008Postcapitalism Kidnapping, Art Statements Gallery, Hong Kong, China 
2008Radical Advertising NRW-Forum, Düsseldorf, Germany
2007ZEVS, Lazarides Gallery, London, UKSolo
2007Maison Européenne de la Photographie MEP, Paris, FranceSolo
2007Visible Graffiti, Galerie Patricia Dorfmann, Paris, FranceSolo
2007Galerie Peter Borchardt, Hamburg, Germany
2007Graffiti, Galerie Magda Danysz, Paris, France
2007Wakin Up Nights, de Pury & Luxembourg, Zürich, Switzerland
2007Still on and non the wiser, Von der Heydt Museum, Wuppertal, Germany 
2007Invisible shadow-performance, Maison rouge, Fondation Antoine de Galbert, Paris, France
2007Backjumps Libe issue 3, Kreuzberg/Bethanien, Berlin, Germany
2006Perpetual Ending, Galerie Patricia Dorfmann, Paris, FranceSolo
2006Ugly winners, Galerie du jour Agnès b, Paris, France
2006Intersection des arts, Chapelle de la Pitié Salpetrière, Paris, France
2006Swish, Lazarides Gallery, London, UK
2005Visual Kidnapping, Cérémonie de clôture, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, FranceSolo
2005Street Magic, Inside Outside Gallery, Cleveland, OH
2005Heimspiel, Galerie Rebellminds, Berlin, Germany
2005I learned it from a talk show, Galerie Patricia Dorfmann. Paris, France
2005DIVA Paris, Galerie Patricia Dorfmann, Paris, France
2005TAG THE SYSTEM, Galerie Beaurepaire, Paris, France
2005Heimspiel, Galerie Rebellminds, Berlin, Germany
2005The live issue II, Kunstraum Kreuzberg, Bethanien, Berlin, Germany
2005La Galerie fête ses quinze ans, Galerie Patricia Dorfmann, Paris, France
2005Santa Ghetto, POW, Londres, UK
2004Electric Girl and the Shadows Rebell Minds Gallery, Berlin, Germany
2004Imposture légitime, Galerie Patricia Dorfmann, Paris, France
2004Die Nacht ist meine Welt, Galerie Rebellminds, Berlin, Germany
2004GRAND-MASTER-GRAFF, Point Ephémère, Paris, France
20049 points of the law, NGBK, Berlin, Germany
2003Broken sunshine, Fire House, New York, NYSolo
2003Art Crime Scene, Le triptyque, Paris, FranceSolo
2003Aux portes de l'enfer, NIM, Paris, FranceSolo
2003Galerie Agnès b., Paris, France
2002Paris-Berlin, Galerie Rebellminds, Berlin, GermanySolo
2002Nuit blanche, Paris, France
2001ZEVS, Galerie Patricia Dorfmann, Paris, France
2001Shadow Hunter, Vitrines des Galeries Lafayette, Paris, FranceSolo
2001Expressure 4.2, Mama gallery, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
2000Ideal room (A.P.A), Galerie Patricia Dorfmann, Paris, France
2000Web art, Galerie des filles du Calvaire, Paris, France
2000Attack of Montpellier, Borealis, Montpellier, France
1999Movie: Warning may provoque damage, Maison Européenne de la Photographie MEP, Paris, FRSolo
1999Art urbain, Espace Typhaine, Paris, France