You discovered the work of Hopare by chance, in the streets of your neighbourhood or abroad: China, France or in Polynesia. The 25- year-old artist had his first solo exhibition this weekend, composed of exclusive creations, prepared for six months in his studio. You find yourself in a huge gallery, in which a band appears. In the midst of smiling, satisfied people: some loiter in front of the tables, whilst others buy the artist’s book to have it dedicated by the young man who likes to meet his enthusiasts of all ages. In fact, his family, his friends are also present, proud of the little boy who has travelled a long way since first child tags. You took the occasion to discuss with him, artist perpetually in search of the perfect line.
– YOU STARTED VERY YOUNG, DID YOU EVER IMAGINE YOURSELF EXPOSING IN A GALLERY TODAY?
I never asked myself that question. I started at 12 years old and my only interest was to affix my name everywhere, I was really in the spirit of hard core graffiti vandal. I did not care at all about the galleries; I did not care at all about drawing. The artistic and aesthetic side was not my priority. All I wanted was to show my name as much as possible, be seen everywhere.
Once i got caught, i stopped for six months. Between judgements, the TIG, the fine for my parents at the time.. it hit me hard. Later on, I went back down to the warehouses near my home where I was skating. I saw guys’ graffiting, I took the cans and it was impossible for me to stop. I think once you start graffiti, it becomes addictive and you can never stop. Even now, once I’m in the car, it is not the road I look at but the walls, the spaces where I could eventually paint.
When I started, I simply wanted to share my name. I realised what all this could represent and I wanted to do something else. I set myself in the areas where I could legally paint and work on other things instead of only lettering. The mayor of my city got interested in my work and offered me a studio. In exchange, I’d have to release an exposition. I executed my first paintings which also make me laugh today. I already had friends that exhibited in galleries and I think it was really at that moment that I told myself that this could bring me something. Today, it is my first solo exhibition on the theme “The Street has Charm”.
-HOW DO YOU SEE YOURSELF LATER ON?
Between my first exhibitions up to today my trait has really evolved, I never imagined myself being in a gallery. I stayed five months locked in, working on pieces to be presented at the exhibition. Seeing all these people, my friends and especially my parents, being proud of me, this makes me extremely happy. They see that I’ve really done something.
I see myself continuing to paint in the streets with always this chill, this adrenaline that make me love graffiti. I don’t see myself being only in gallery, I need to travel, to discover et to inspire myself.
– HOW DO YOU CHOOSE WHERE YOU PAINT?
It always depends. Sometimes, it is kind of random. Sometimes I am invited and the place is already prepared, I get there and they tell me “it’s here!” For the rest, it’s a blank page, once I’m invited; people know my spots and what I like. Although, I sometimes have restrictions on the level of colours (for example certain colours are banned in China).
– AROUND COLOUR CHOICE, WHY CHOOSE THESE COLOURS?
Maybe because in between 12 to 16 years I only used black and white and therefore I really wanted to move to something else, I choose my colour palette more or less around feeling. Today I return to work gently subdued, with different shades of grey, green etc. that offer something much more gentle in a different spirit.
– WHAT IS YOUR MOST VIVID MEMORY?
Meeting a few artists has definitely evolved my work, especially BROK and Alex MAK. They are graffiti artists that I met about a year and a half ago with who I worked in studios. When I saw at what point they were accurate and careful in their work, I re-viewed my way of work. When you see portraits that are actual photographs, traced with features, this pushes you to excel. I wanted to do just as well as them because I knew that they equally watched me paint. They give me many tips. Since then my trait has been more precise. In fact, beforehand I hardly put any close up photos of my work but today, I post them more often because I want people to see the details, the precision and that it takes me a lot of time.
– IF THERE WAS A PHRASE THAT REPRESENTED YOU, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
« Hopare paints to travel, and travels to paint. »
It is really the case; this is also why I want to continue painting walls. It is the voyages, the findings that I do that inspire me. All these faces that I cross, feed my art, I would not be able to create if I did not travel. Here, I stayed five months in my studio, it was really hard for me, I could not have stayed much longer, I would have run out of inspiration. I cannot be content by copying the portraits in my studio. It has already been done and even well done. I am going to continue to travel, to stop, to progress. My next artworks will be different, I am starting sculpture, I want to experiment new things.