Life-sized street art interventions play out scenes from a parallel universe on public surfaces all around us in the interactive works of French artist Levalet. Raised in Guadeloupe, France, the artist (also known as art teacher Charles Leval) saw the graffiti that surrounded him as part of the city’s identity, prompting him to look at the streets in a whole new way. What if everyday objects and scenes had an entirely different purpose than the ones we see for them?
Details of the city that might otherwise be unnoticed by its inhabitants – like dangling cables, clumps of ivy and water spouts – become the genesis of strange, creative and absurd scenes, like glimpses of a world just barely out of reach. While much of Levalet’s work is wheat pasted right onto urban surfaces, he sometimes creates cut-outs that can be layered on top of the fabric of the city, giving it a whole new dimension.
“The street is a place where I can work freely, I don’t have financial or time pressures,” said Levalet in a 2015 interview with Street Art Paris. “And this is mostly about besieging public places, everyday places, and being able to put up work that creates a dialogue with the real world. I like the idea of trying to combine several realities, using the world as a medium, and as a guide for representation, positioning the artistic image, in a place that was not meant for it in the first place.”
“Topography is very important for me, this is why I always check a place before I work on it. I try to mix the world of representation with the real world by playing on the physical cohesion of the situations I put up. Architecture supports my work. Then I work on staging the artwork with photographs. Photography allows me to play with the point of view and to intensify the ‘window-dressing’ dimension of my work. Photography also allows me to create a dramatization within the dramatization by including passers-by or other elements.”