Artists and Locations
A Map of Street Art in Belleville, Paris. Click the little symbol at the top left to see the artists’ names.
12 Jean Le Gac, 13 Ben Vautier & 14 Intra Larue
Turn right at the end of Rue Denoyez (point 9 on the map) and walk up the hill on Rue de Belleville. As you reach Place Frehel, turn around and take in the sight of one of the older street art murals of Belleville. Interestingly, Place Frehel doesn’t show up on Google Maps, for whatever reason, but believe us, it’s there, namely at the intersection of Rue de Belleville & Rue Julien Lacroix.
Detective mural by Jean Le Gac • Street Art Belleville
Created in 1986 by Nouvelle Figuration artist Jean Le Gac this magnificent piece of street art of a 1950s-style detective has survived for 30 years now. It is thus daring the notion that all street art is ephemeral. Note how Le Gac cleverly incorporates the immediate surroundings of the square into his art: As the detective is investigating the crime scene he finds a piece of paper with a Christian cross written on it (held in the detective’s right hand). This piece of paper being his only clue, it leads him to follow Rue Julien Lacroix, the street branching off Place Frehel. Why my dear Watson? Because ‘croix’ means ‘cross’ in the French language.
Art installation by Ben Vautier • Street Art Belleville
Just left to Le Gac’s detective is a large art installation of two construction workers hanging up a gigantic chalkboard. This is another long-standing favorite of the Belleville street art scene, set up by Ben Vautier in 1993. The message on the blackboard says: il faut se mefier des mots (translated: it is necessary to be skeptical of words). Vautier is particularly known for being part of the French avant-garde movement of Lettrism. The movement focuses on letters and strong written messages that philosophically scrutinize the ways of mankind. There is one message by Vautier (not on display here) which is by far my favorite. It reads “I will have liked to be this cactus in the ass of art” with Vautier holding a large cactus in his arm. Search for it on the web 😉
French artist Intra Larue’s breast • Street Art Belleville
Before leaving Place Frehel, I would like to point you towards a tiny fragment of street art that can easily be overlooked, but which is all the more fascinating. At the right hand side of the square, you can see an old, small piano hanging on the wall. You will notice a single woman’s breast there, installed on the top of a steel beam above a stone doorway. This is the work of French artist Intra Larue who creates colorful plaster imprints of her own breasts and puts them up on the walls and facades of Paris, thus breaking with the social taboo of publicly displaying nudity.
If you would like to find out more about Ben Vautier and Intra Larue have a look at:
15 Seth Globepainter & 16 WD – Parc de Belleville
From Place Frehel, turn right onto Rue Julien Lacroix and follow the street until you reach Parc de Belleville. The park is popular with the young and senior citizens of Belleville alike. If you come here early (around 8am-9am) you will have the (doubtful?!) pleasure of being able to observe senior citizens of Chinese descent doing there morning work-out. Turn left into the park and walk up all those stairs until you reach an amphitheatre-like semicircle resembling a crescent hammered into stone.
Mural by Seth Globepainter • Street Art Belleville
In this semicircle you can see different fragments created by Seth Globepainter who goes by the common name of Julien Malland. Born in Paris in the 1970s, Seth has travelled around the world intensively, pouring out his bucket of beautiful rainbow-colors wherever he treads in the major cities of this globe. His street art is characterized by dreamlike, cartoon-styled figures. Their faces you will hardly ever see as they seemingly get sucked into color-rich clouds leading to another dimension or merely show you their backs. You are, as a matter of fact, rather privileged to be able to see two of his paintings here where you can actually see his characters’ eyes: The large, sad eyes of the girl clutching her knees and those of the kid with the blue skin.
Mural by Seth Globepainter • Street Art Belleville
Walk up the remaining stairs of the semicircle and keep right until you reach the very top of the hill. Here you will find a continuation of Seth’s work which was commissioned by the city of Paris. It is scattered along the pillars of the color-drenched plaza, mixed with the mosaics and installations of other street artists. From here you also have a gorgeous view over the city with the Eiffel Tower to your right and the whimsical, colorful high-tech building of the modern-art museum Centre Pompidou in the center. Centre Pompidou, by the way, was designed by famous architects Piano, Rogers and Franchini. At one of the pillars at the left-hand side of the plaza, you will also find a mural of a mystical creature, half human, half seahorse, eternalized by Indonesian artist WD.
17 CLRC, 18 Brok & Shekra, 19 Seyb, 20 Hopare, 21 ALEX, 22 Bruss – Rue des Maronites
Bringing this tour to an end, we will now return back into the park and walk down the hill towards Rue des Couronnes. When you hit the intersection of Rue des Couronnes and Rue Julien Lacroix, follow the latter until you reach Rue des Maronites and take a right turn. This is the last mural we will visit and it’s a magnificent one, stretching over the distance of half a residential block.
FKA Twigs mural by ALEX • Street Art Belleville
Held together by the common theme of galaxies and outer space this huge mural skillfully manages to balance the sheer magnitude of the project with the delicate depiction of minute details. The mural is a collaboration of street artists CLRC, Brok, Shekra, Seyb, Ogre, Hopare, Alex and Bruss. Particularly Alex’s mural of English female singer and songwriter FKA Twigs (aka Tahliah Debrett Barnett) who is projecting a constellation of stars forming a mighty deer onto the night sky from out of her bare hands is simply breathtaking. No less impressive is Hopare’s depiction of a beautiful woman’s face. Hopare’s art stands out for his outstanding mastery of geometrical patterns and interweaving lines that imbue the woman’s face with a charismatic aura of vibrancy.
Hopare Galaxy mural • Street Art Belleville
Apparently not everybody paid the artists the due respect that their skill and artistry would have deserved. Some parts of the mural have already been partly tagged over by other graffiti sprayers, notably the mural done by CLRC, where one can see that somebody sprayed the words TOYS across the mural. TOYS stands for ‘Tagging Over Your Shit’. It is basically a way of showing somebody disrespect in the street art community.