Urban art shines brilliantly at the 8th edition of the Urban Art Fair in Paris

by | Apr 30, 2024 | Art Fair Coverage

Pauline Loeb in front of Maxime Drouet underground door at Urban Art Fair 2024 © artfairmag

I long believed that urban art was limited to street art. How wrong I was! It was in 2023 that I first visited the Urban Art Fair, which was celebrating its 7th edition in the heart of Paris. I was struck by the diversity of forms and styles that urban art could embody. Therefore, it was with enthusiasm that I entered the doors of the Carreau du Temple on that Thursday, April 25.

Right from the sidewalk, monumental artworks set the tone and seemed to welcome the visitors. This year, the fair welcomed 41 galleries, mostly French but not exclusively, as for instance the renowned Portuguese gallery Underdogs Gallery and Danysz Gallery which has spaces in London and Shanghai aside from Paris. Thanks to the four hours allocated to journalists, conditions were optimal for systematically combing through the fair and forming an opinion on the various offerings. The calm of the aisles ceased the minute the fair opened its doors to VIPs at exactly 6 PM, where collectors and the curious flooded in within minutes.”

Mark Jenkins at Danysz Gallery

Mark Jenkins, Holy Bible of War Cinema, 2021 featured by Danysz Gallery at Urban Art Fair 2023 © artfairmag

The most striking work of the fair, unsettling and therefore impactful, was undoubtedly Mark Jenkins’ life-sized sculpture of a hooded man seated in a corner of the Danysz Gallery stand, drawing on a Bible. So realistic it was hard to walk by without a startle. It was hard to miss Maxime Drouet’s reworked metro door or the quirky and very 90s stand of the Brugier Rigail gallery across the aisle. A few meters away, the solo show by Charles Leval, better known as Levalet, presented on part of the Mazel Galerie stand, caught my attention. On the outer wall, painted a beautiful green, ‘Bavardages,’ a large cut-out wood piece depicting a man crouching in an empty frame surrounded by parrots, immediately drew me in. The interior of the piece, painted entirely blue, highlighted the very recognizable universe of the artist, with a clear duality between joyous and peaceful figurative foregrounds and background shadows revealing a masked violent nature.
Mazel Galerie Levalet

Lavalet solo show, featured by Mazel Galerie at Urban Art Fair 2024 © artfairmag

In a very different style, Artkind Gallery featured a stand that invited lingering, with Kid Pier’s mosaic replicas of everyday objects—Amazon boxes, Game Boys, computers—Thirsty Bstrd’s humorous plexiglass works, and Nicolas Pierre’s incredibly realistic miniature buildings teeming with details.
Artkind Gallery

Artkind Gallery at Urban Art Fair 2024, featuring Kid Pier, Nicolas Pierre © artfairmag

Iconic urban art artists were, of course, well represented. The pop art icon Keith Haring featured at the Vroom & Varrossieau stand, Invader and Blek Le Rat at Ange Basso, Lady Pink at Graffiti & Co, Jef Aérosol represented by the galleries David Pluskwa and Mathgoth, and Ernest Pignon Ernest and Miss. Tic, whose works faced each other at the Art To Be Gallery stand. I particularly love the women depicted by Miss. Tic, playing on seduction or provocation but always accompanied by those sharp quotes that so well characterize the artist’s work
Miss. Tic Art to Be Gallery

Miss. Tic featured by Art To Be Gallery at Urban Art Fair 2024 © artfairmag

In one corner of the fair, the solo show by the MonkeyBird collective, formed by two artists from Bordeaux in 2012 and presented by H Gallery, transported visitors into a dreamlike world populated by marvelous birds, mischievous monkeys, grand architectural elements, and mysterious symbols. The works utilized materials such as wood from antique furniture and other reclaimed materials, but never canvases, showcasing a unique approach to media and themes.
Monkeybird H Gallery
MonkeyBird, Les Explorateurs, 2024. Featured by H Gallery at Urban Art Fair 2024 © artfairmag

Art Dealers Interviews

Caught up in the cheerful atmosphere and the unencumbered art, I felt inspired to evolve the “1 minute in the booth” format into something more immersive and relaxed. I had the chance to talk for a good fifteen minutes with Jef Aérosol, a pioneer of aerosol art who started over 40 years ago and now has a very recognizable style of black and white characters with that iconic red arrow pointing to a crucial spot. At the Mazel Galerie stand, I wanted more information about the work of Levalet, an artist I adore who remains accessible since the large formats are around €8,000 and the small ones around €1,500. I must admit I indulged myself as I left the stand with two paintings by Levalet under my arm for my personal collection. At Underdogs, a leading Portuguese gallery for Urban art, I chatted with Jessica Louro about the Spanish artist duo PichiAvo who remix Greek and Roman antique figures with a street art twist! Finally, I obviously wanted to better understand the aforementioned statue by Mark Jenkins that was placed on the floor of the Danysz Gallery, for which the artist wrapped himself in tape to recreate the volume of his own body in a way that is both faithful and light.

Sum it up, I'm in a rush!

  • When? | April 25-28, 2024
  • Where? | Paris
  • Atmosphere | Warm and casual
  • Curator’s pick Mazel Galerie
  • Featured Gallery Gem | Artkind
  • Spotlighted Artists | Levalet, Jef Aérosol, Thirsty Bstrd
  • For Whom? | Street art lovers

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