UO LE BHV MARAIS – PARISApril 30, 2014
With a history in creating iconic street art across Europe, the abstract skills of Belgium based artist Gijs Vanhee was the perfect match for our new UO store in Paris, Le BHV Marais. Pen in hand and paint pots at the ready, we stole some time with Gijs to find what inspires his creative flow.
UO: Gijs – tell us what your inspiration was for the mural in UO BHV?
Gijs: My inspiration is organic forms, or movement – like oceans or animals. The mural is being created on the ceiling, so I had to find ways to make the right turns with my body. The result has become more abstract, as the way I paint is dictated by the way I move in my environment.
UO: How did you develop your style into what is now quite a distinguished and unique form?
G: I was raised into a graffiti culture, and throughout my life things I’m interested in have altered my style. I got into surfing, started to draw cartoons and began to place my work on larger objects, like walls or buildings. It’s a combination of these two things.
UO: What’s your first move when creating a piece of art?
G: I mostly draw ideas from my sketchbook. From there I adapt my ideas to the surface I’m working on. When I have a blank canvas I can’t actually put my finger on what I’m going to do at that exact moment. I might start a painting but then go out for a drink, read the paper, meet friends. So mostly I adapt work I might have started a while ago, from there it mutates into something completely different.
UO: Your work features a lot of animals, particularly birds for the BHV mural. Is there any meaning behind these?
G: It’s funny, a lot people ask me that. I started out drawing fish – partly because of my surfing days but also because of their structure. I experiment with different forms of animals like birds, or elephants because I can mutate their animalistic structure into something unique.
UO: Where do you feel is the most iconic place you’ve created a mural so far?
G: The most interesting and challenging project was a 72-metre high building. I had to use scaffolding and it became more of a mathematical process rather than creating art, because from different points of view in the area you would see a different section of the mural.
UO: How do you feel about creating art in a space like BHV, over showcasing your work in exhibitions?
G: I like murals because they’re not behind closed doors. You’re putting art directly in people’s faces. They have to live with it, whether they like it or not. When I first started painting outside four or five years ago, I would use different artist names as most of what I was doing was illegal. Now I use my real name, I want to cause a reaction, and have my name associated with it.