Fresh from their return from their one year artistic residency at Villa Medici, Lek & Sowat present their latest book ‘Underground Does not Exist Anymore‘ together with curator Hugo Vitrani. The book retraces the events between December 2012 and June 2014, where the two artists supported by curator Hugo Vitrani invaded the Palais de Tokyo through various official interventions, secret or ephemeral .
What started out as a mural on a peripheral space of the institution then evolved into an ambitious long-term project. We look back at the project in more details, as we’ve been keeping the secret for a very long time…
After a first collaboration with the American artist John Giorno ( see more here) Lek and Sowat were invited a second time to the Palais de Tokyo in December 2012 to paint on the walls of an emergency exit overlooking the technical premises of the museum. Rather than acting as a duo on the agreed space, the artists invited a dozen of graffiti artists including Dem189, Sambre, Wxyz, Katre, L’Outsider, Swiz, Rizot, Legz, Seth to join them and created an immersive installation by painting from the floor to the ceiling and began an urban exploration of the building.
In October 2013 with the complicity of the president of the Palais de Tokyo, Jean de Loisy, new spaces were made available and the project now titled ‘Lasco’ in tribute to the prehistorical cave paintings, the first wall paintings. Curator Hugo Vitrani with Lek and Sowat decided to pay tribute to French graffiti writers with individual dedicated spaces featuring Azyle, Bom.K, dran, Monsieur Qui, ….
In parallel to the authorized areas, Lek and Sowat as well as invited artists like dran, Alëxone, Kan, Blo, Evol, Cleon Peterson would also discreetly wander corridors, push doors, paint unofficially and create hidden or ephemeral installations, illustrating the evanescent nature of graffiti and its ability to penetrate everywhere.
The results can be seen within the video ‘Invisible Vandalism’.
Traces Directs / Direct Outlines
The book also features all the artists ephemeral interventions on a blackboard ( see our coverage here) from Philippe Baudelocque, Wxyz, Alëxone, Smo, L’Outsider, Sowat, Babs, Skki, Jay one, Tcheko, Apôtre, Kan, Seb174, Sambre, Nassyo, Popay (pictured below), Spé, Fléo, Lek, Dem189, Swiz to Jacques Villeglé.
The short feature film Traces Directs is now part of the permanent collections of the Centre George Pompidou.
Pushing their exploration of the building further and further, Lek and Sowat discovered a hatch leading to the ventilation lines underneath the Palais de Tokyo.
This is the epilogue of their artistic journey. Lek and Sowat adorned the narrowed and out of reach spaces with graffiti and with curator Hugo Vitrani invited legendary Mode2 and Futura to paint using ochre, black and white colours, reminiscent of the sacred prehistorical paintings in the Lascaux caves. Large graffiti letters by Mode2 form the sentence ‘Underground doesn’t exist anymore’.
View the full set of pics here
Due to the nature of the space and for security reasons, the Palais de Tokyo has now closed the access to the hatch permanently. While these paintings will never be accessible to the public, they have been documented in the following video.
Underground Does not Exist Anymore by Lek &Sowat and Hugo Vitrani
340 pages – Format 17 x 24 cm
€ 30 Available here
In parallel Le Palais de Tokyo just released a special issue Palais Magazine #24 focussing on the urban interventions together with artist interviews from Andre, Azyle, dran, Craig Costello, Futura, Mode2 to Os Gemeos.
Palais Magazine # 24
216 pages – Format 22.5 x 28.5 cm
€ 15 Available here