Leaving behind old school lettering to take a stab at shapes, this artist transports his world to the edges of urban wastelands and streets with endless imagination.
FC : Saïr, can you tell us a little bit about yourself, your crews, and your journey through graffiti?
I started doing graffiti in Niort in 1999. I was in the crew VTP with Spektr, Soat, Idas, Moris, Aupela, Ekzod, Sozen, Zobi, and Ponz and also in 777 with Repaze, Dane, Rocky, 1fekt, Morye, Spektr, Omen, and Cyest.
FC : It seems like you moved on from lettering about a year ago. Why?
Yes, I sort of put that aside. I felt like I was going around in circles and I found it a little bit narcissistic to leave just my name. Now, I’m working more with my imagination and my instincts and the process is completely different. I feel more open.
Germany (July 2011) The making-of: wall painting
FC : How did you come up with the idea to paint on walls and take inspiration from their texture?
Doing my lettering, I didn’t really take advantage of the untouched places that I found. It was as if I was doing the same lettering in different places whereas I really wanted to leave a unique trace of me in each building that I discovered, to make contact with the wall, absorb the place, and not be content with just painting over it.
Germany (July 2011)
FC : Since your painting requires virgin walls, how much time do you usually spend looking for abandoned places?
I don’t spend a lot of time looking for abandoned spots. When I’m out and about and I see something that I like, I stop and I paint. And seeing that I can’t stand staying home, I find a lot of interesting things. I like dirty walls that crumble when you touch them, that mold, and the bigger the better. These spots make me work with paint differently, it’s much more spontaneous to paint a virgin wall that I find than to have to prepare one. The ambiance around this kind of painting is very strong, I can do what I want – break a wall, shit on the stairs, get fucked up. I feel more at home in these places than in the apartment that I rent.
France (April 2010) Golbut of Vendôme... A "warm hearth" !
France (August 2010)
FC : Explain to us your process for deciding whether a certain wall or support will work for you?
I become picky. I see a lot of virgin walls that I don’t touch because I’m not into it. It has to be love at first sight, I pass in front of something and BAM I hear it beg me to come mess with it.
Germany (July 2011) A punk levels himself on a wall...
FC : Do you know what you’re going to paint or do you just follow the support’s form without preparation?
Ah yes, it’s only improvisation. It’s like my life – I don’t really know where I’m going but I move forward nonetheless. We’ll see soon enough…
Germany (July 2011) Perched on a rickety ladder over a pile of junk...he must've been motivated!
FC : You don’t hesitate to integrate other objects around you to create your scene and add another dimension. How would you describe this process? Anamorphosis? Installation?
Call it what you like, I don’t know anything about that, but when I end up using other things it’s because I’m completely into it, I feel good, and I don’t question myself. I have an idea in my head and I use everything around me to create a whole and not just a painting.
Germany (July 2011) Here are some dead leaves that came back to life as a twisting 3D tail.
Spain (May 2011). Some type of walrus breaking bricks!
FC : Talk to us about your collaborations following this particular approach?
What interests me the most about collaborations is the collaborating part, really blending together minds to produce a common result. It’s really hard to mix together – you must know a person well and be able to work without restraints, without needing to ask “can I go over you now?” When you can’t tell who did what, then you know the collaboration was successful.
Fusion x3 with Repaze...
Germany (July 2011) - with Repaze
Some vandal-style creatures in the street...
FC : Some of your graffs aren’t lacking in either humor or audacity, genital organs mix with both human and animal forms…what motivates this crude side?
Yes, my paintings can be funny, violent, in bad taste – they reflect me. I throw my anxieties, my frustrations, and my hatred into them. It’s very personal. Basically, I expand upon the idea that everyone tries to rip off everyone else’s work and fuck each other over to get ahead.
Paris - This "serpenis" was removed by the city quite quickly!
FC : You seem to favor black or white layouts, provided you haven’t given up on color?
Black or white, it saves time, and it’s also a question of logistics – there are places where I can’t really go in with a huge bag (unlike Sozen [another graff artist in his crew NDLR]) so I have to go with the essentials. I should also put some color but at the moment, it’s only every once in a while.
FC : Tell us about the painting that you’re the most proud of? The one you like the least? And why?
I wouldn’t go so far as to say proud, but I really enjoy leaving my little creatures in the street. There are some paintings that were very emotionally intense, something that happened that you can’t see in the photo but that remains quite present in my head (with Tiboo and Nono in Valencia for example, and also with my crewmates) and I’m proud of that. Regarding my shittier stuff, I collect photos of them but I don’t show them to anyone.
Featuring Tiboo and Nono
FC : Any shout-outs?
To VTP and 777, to “Under Pressure”, to Poitiers, to Ecloz and his group, to Benimaclet and to all those that shared a bit of their life with me.
Whether you find them on the street or in the wastelands, Saïr’s urban bestiary calls out through its uniqueness. These creatures can put the passerby in a good mood, surprise or even shock, but they blend into the walls so well that certain vandal pieces are still there even a few months later!
Photo Credits: Saïr/Chrixcel (Germany and Paris in black and white). Interview by Chrixcel.
Find this article with more photos in the new Graffiti All Starz (#14). “GAS mag” for the connoisseurs has, through the issues, become a true reference for current events concerning figures in the various graff spheres (graffiti, illustration, graphic arts, etc).
In this issue, we salute a selection of eclectic and original writing. After Saïr’s creatures (pp. 8-11), you will also discover the psychedelic universe of the Spanish artist Malakki, experience the visual stunning of Russian Remo’s portraits, ride the 3D wave of the German Mark Gmehling, discover the sketches of Paum (aka Sarin) from Toulouse, and dive into the lunacy of Stephane Blanquet, currently on display at the Halle Saint-Pierre as part of the show Hey.
Interview with Saïr (in French) on the PhotoGraff Collective Blog (PGC)