L'Atlas is a French artist whose work is all about lines and forms. The main theme of his paintings, graffiti, and installations is the displacement of the people around the world. The spirit of his art can be compared to limitlessness, where borders and frontiers are described as mental barriers. Having the roots in street art, he gradually got familiar with diverse types of calligraphy and geometry that have overtaken the primal aspect of his art, but he still knows to ‘attack’ street walls once in a while. L’Atlas uses different mediums like canvas, video, spray paint, sticky tape in his mission of creating universal language and signs that can be understood by everyone. Since his childhood, the artist has been attracted by the energy of the cosmos and universe that is represented by calligraphy and life and revived by paint.
Jules Dedet Granel better known as L'Atlas was born in 1978 near Toulouse, but he grew up in Paris where he started street writing and tagging in 1991, being inspired by hip hop and rap emerging culture. The artist studied History of Art and Archeology in Toulouse where he met Smail Bour Quaiba, a traditional calligraphist, on whose invitation he spent three months in Morocco learning classical calligraphy. Then he went to Egypt, where he accidently come to know Munir al Shaarani, a Syrian refugee, known for his modern approach in which he combines three forms, calligraphy, design, and architecture, all in one. Other than that, the author also traveled to Syria, China, Greece and other places where he upgraded his knowledge, but Arabic touch remained dominant in his art. His works remind of an intersection between geometric abstraction and minimalism where every letter is a form, and every form is a letter. Most of his pieces are in black & white combination which he finds as a form of resistance and a binding line between the people and the city. At the same time, this choice when applied to his photos is used as a reading tool, and as a reminder of the things that have disappeared.
As the artist admits, a very big influence on him had Daniel Buren, who created a link between conceptual art and public spaces. While creating, the author uses his paintings as meditative objects. During his visit to China’s mountains, he was introduced with Tai-Chi, which he compares with his painting process because both have certain gestures and moves that are repeated until perfection is reached. L’Atlas tries to put together his interest in geography, maps, and archeology on one side together with his devotion to the history of writing on the other side. So it is a mixture of topography and typography. The street art for him is just a continuity of land art, consisted of the maximum use of space, so naturally he defines himself as an in-situ artist. L'Atlas’ pictorial universe is used to represent cities through geometrical and graphical labyrinths and compasses, which is primitive and contemporary at the same time.
In 1998 the artist met Agnes B. while tagging her delivery truck, and since then, they have collaborated on a number of projects, L’Atlas’ work was also printed on her t-shirts. In 2001 this French multi-talented guy decided to change spray-cans for the tape and focused on Kufi, geometric code which he transposes into the Latin alphabet. He also designed a sparkling water bottle for Perrier brand. In 2015 he participated in a project called Extraordinaire that is the biggest project in his career so far. It consists of four different monumental installations, as a part of a global interactive performance, in four cities, New York, Mexico City, Seoul, and Paris. The idea is to use four elements, Earth, Air, Water, and Fire as media, with each carrying a certain message. The project he is most proud of is taking photographs of his first seven works on his journeys around the world. L’Atlas’ art can be seen in numerous streets, galleries, and exhibitions in various cities around the world like Miami, Rome, Paris, Jakarta, Marrakech, and Moscow.
Featured image: Portrait of the artist
All images copyright of the artist; All images used for illustrative purposes only