Hot off the heels of the exhibition by French graffiti master Kongo at 28th Fevrier back in February, comes an exhibition by another world-renowned French graffiti artist. Yes guys and girls make way for CEET (pronounced Cee-Tee) who is opening his exhibition “Street Life” at Gallery Reis on the 24th of this month.

Known for his works which are largely based on unique colour interplay, wild style lettering and distortion of words – it’s no wonder that global brands of the likes of Adidas, Loewe and Prada have snapped him up as art ambassador because this guy is on fire.

And what do you do with an artist who is on fire? Interview him, that’s what. And so that’s precisely what we did so let us begin…

What was your first foray with graffiti and what was the path that followed from there?

When I was young, I saw a magazine from New York talking about graffiti and I realised that it was exactly this I want to do with my life. The first time I went completley crazy with no sense of what was good or not, so I was painting in the street and on the trains just for fun –  I didn’t realise that I could go to jail just for painting. So step by step I realised that I had to be more intelligent when I was painting in the street, so now I’m still painting in the street and on trains but nobody knows where and when I do it!

Who or what are your artistic influences?

My influences come from politics, TV, my friends, people in the street, movies…everything. I get inspiration from everywhere, and it also depends  on my mood. But I like to get my inspiration from countries when I’m traveling, from the people I meet. After traveling, when I get back to my studio, I have so many ideas I want to realize. I need to travel to get inspiration. For example, I got a lot of inspiration the first time I was in China, because there were so many people everywhere – in the MTR, in the street, everywhere – so I translated this onto canvas.

How has your art evolved over time and has taking it from wall to canvas and from public to gallery space had any bearing on this?

I still paint in the street, and I will never change that, because I get a lot of pleasure from painting in the street – the feeling is very different. Painting on canvas gives a different view of graffiti and life. Usually when I paint in the street I don’t see or talk to anybody – or sometimes very few people – but when I have my own exhibition, that is the only way I can really express myself, my style and my point of view of graffiti to people in a direct way. So in different ways it’s good to paint in the street and experience the unique feeling you get from that, and then to also be part of the art scene and to be able to touch different people.

Those who understand graffiti see it as a form of communication. What are you trying to communicate in your works and how has it changed during your career as an urban artist?

I’m not trying to communicate a message through my painting, but more a feeling. I’m trying to tell people to let themselves imagine or create their own images on my canvases. Sometimes people can see characters, or buildings – but I paint only letters – so it’s interesting how funny our imaginations can be.

How are you personally trying to fight the fire of social disapproval against graffiti, and have it recognised as a viable art form in today’s contemporary culture?

The only way to make the mental change in people’s perceptions is to hold exhibitions, and to keep our graffiti on canvas for life. Graffiti is real comtempory art, and every year this art form grows at a faster pace.  In Europe there are so many auctions, so many exhibitions of street art, because a generation who grew up to become owners of big companies, or lawyers, or politicians grew up with street art, and so they embrace it. In Europe or the U.S., some graffiti artists sell canvas for 100,000 euros, so this proves that the change in perception and respect for graffiti artists is already happening.

What do you think will it take for more people to embrace graffiti as an art form?

Singapore artists have to fight for their rights, to organise events, and more exhibitions, even if it is small. Over time people’s perceptions will change, they maybe just need more time, but art and music will cross the border, and nobody can stop us!

What do you want audiences in Singapore to take away from your exhibition and work?

Through my exhibition I really want to show them that graffiti artists are not only about vandalism – that they are creative, talented and real artists.

Street Life, Ceet Fouad is running at Gallery Reis, Palais Renaissance, 390 Orchard Road, 03-01/02, 238871 from 24th May – 24th June.

Written by Ms Demeanour