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When someone mentions “Paris” and “art,” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? The Mona Lisa? The Musée d’Orsay? Maybe if you’re really forward-thinking it will be one of the more modern exhibits at the Pompidou Center.
Yet, for almost 40 years Parisian artists have been taking their work to the streets – literally. In some neighborhoods it’s not unusual to find elaborate murals on the sides of otherwise ordinary buildings. To discover these modern masterpieces for yourself, the Mairie of the 20th is currently hosting an exposition and walking tour to celebrate three masters of “urban art.”
It’s not graffitti – it’s art
For the first part of the street art tribute, the Mairie has organized an expo at the pavillon Carré Baudouin, a former country mansion converted into an exhibition space. There you can find recent works by three well-known artists, all of whom got their start in the 20th in the 1980s.
The first artist is Jérôme Mesnager, known for his flowing white silhouettes. Mosko and associates, a team composed of Michel Allemand and Gérard Laux, specialize in colorful paintings of exotic animals. Finally, there’s Nemo, whose work is characterized by an ever-present “man in black.”
The three artists created a new mural especially for the exhibit, on display in front of the pavillon on Rue de Ménilmontant (see photo above). The expo also features photographs of street paintings outside the 20th (by Gérard Faure) and short documentaries on the artists at work.
The exhibit runs now through August 29. The pavillon is located at 121 Rue de Ménilmontant. Opening hours are 11 AM to 6 PM Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is free.
Finding Nemo (and Mesnager and Mosko and associates)
The suggested walking tour that the Mairie has assembled is actually better than the exhibit. It gives onlookers the chance to see street art in its native environment, so to speak, and also takes the wanderer on an eye-opening path of the Arrondissement.
As you discover a colorful giraffe by Mosko and associates nestled between two shops or a chain of Mesnager’s outlines looped around a building, you’ll climb up and down stairs and travel through tiny “passages” via the back streets of the 20th. Sadly some of the artworks have been marred by graffiti or papered over with posters, but the original paintings are still visible if you know where to look.
Pick up a copy of the walking tour map at the Pavilion Carré de Baudouin or download it from the Mairie’s web site. The entire circuit takes about an hour and a half.