Although the French, Marseille-based artist Stephane Moscato, whose artistic moniker is STF Moscato, showcases and presents works which seem to fit into the category of urban art and stencils, his art actually goes a bit further in defining the possible meanings of these genres. Stencils are usually used for recreating the same or similar images - and STF Moscato likes to point out how the stencils that he makes are never reproduced (at least not by himself), and also adds that each piece has a unique conceptual origin. The thing that was most compelling to Moscato was the punk-rock feel to stencils, and the “trashy” aesthetics, which he has been pursuing since 2002. Speaking of trashy aesthetics - try to imagine a pile of fragments and scraps taken from the walls of the streets. STF Moscato uses segments of posters, or even entire surfaces peeled off the facades, and recycles them, by using them as materials for his works. Since the posters that he uses as background are usually colored, his own addition to these images is in black and white. The fragments taken from the streets are at the same time fragments of the streets – each of them is followed by a story. STF Moscato pays attention to these narratives, but also allows for new meanings to emerge. In the end, this interesting form of appropriation gives completely unexpected results.
The unique visual language found in the posters used by STF Moscato serves as a guide, and helps the artist send his messages in diverse ways. Although their content might have been about something completely different, the artist's interventions efficiently transform the posters into his own visual essays. However, the initial purpose of the original image does remain somewhere in the background, and because of this, his art has a slightly ambiguous character. These artworks consist of many layers, which overlap and work with each other. They are made in various scales, on walls, inside and outside galleries, and also applied to original posters, or objects. In 2012, for example, STF Moscato was commissioned to "tag a bag", which was a project curated by Nicolas Pinelli. The organizers invited 20 contemporary urban artists to customize bags, and Stephane was one of them. Finally, all of his works have a socially engaged undertone, but it is not as explicit as the one found in the majority of today's urban artworks. Due to the great number of elements found in Moscato's pieces, there are many ways to understand the relationships between words and objects, between the old and the new. Therefore, it sometimes happens that the relationship between the signified and its signifier seems arbitrary, which describes why STF Moscato refers to his works as polysemic.
Apart from the already mentioned technique which characterizes STF Moscato's works and the inspiration which stems from punk-rock culture, there is one element that seems to frequently reappear. Moscato obviously has a certain fascination with masks, and in a great number of his works, he depicts humans with animal heads, or with some other types of "veils". Masks will, apparently, be the main subject of his upcoming exhibition, which will be hosted by Gallery Daeppen in Basel. The title of the exhibition is Perpetual Carnival, and it already suggests what the show will be about. Reportedly, STF Moscato was inspired by an old engraving dated around 1700-1701, which shows two people hiding behind virtuous masks. These masks, apparently, speak about these people's dark sides. This interesting allegory is used to explain how the world functions, and it corresponds with the political message that Moscato wanted to deliver, wrapped in a mantle of poetic expression. The exhibition will be on view from March 19 until April 30, 2016. You can read more about it on this link.
Also, since you're probably curious about the bag that Moscato tagged in 2012, find the video below!
Featured images in slider: STF Moscato, Tag my Bag stills, via Dailymotion; STF Moscato - A Miracle Tour 130 x 97cm (detail); STF Moscato - Street Art piece, via STF Moscato. All images used for illustrative purposes only.