Monday, August 3, 2009

Ernest Pignon-Ernest

Ernest Pignon-Ernest is a French artist in his late 60's whose entire career has been devoted to the creation of powerfully political street art. Ernest, who is based in Paris, has traveled the world since the 1940's getting up on public walls with careful, beautiful charcoal drawings, etchings and silkscreen prints, always without official permission.

Pignon-Ernest is famously disdainful of mounting shows in galleries or museums, and instead sees himself as creating a whole new kind of art object. "I choose a real place,' he said in a 2003 interview, "and slip an image into its interior. I believe that the insertion of my image into the real world gives that reality the characteristic of an image." Pignon-Ernest was trained as a classical draftsman, and his first foray into public art was provoked by the horrors of the atomic bombings in Japan. He pasted images of the victims in cities throughout France. Since then, he has reacted to large and small acts of oppression by creating street art in England, Italy, Japan, Algiers, the U.S., Israel and South Africa.

Most recently, Ernest's work was seen on the streets of Gaza, where he posted life-size images of the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, who died last August. Many more images at his official site here.

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