Mahabat – ынтымак

Mahabat chose the word « ынтымак » (« harmony » in Kyrgyz).

She lives in Zavadskoy Paselok, a slum of Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. The neighbourhood is inhabited by different ethnic groups from Kyrgyzstan and Central Asia but people live in peace and harmony.

It’s a feeling I got straight away when I arrived here a few days ago.

Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

I’ve arrived in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan where I’ll will be painting for one month on a new episode of Share The Word Project.

The first step is to find a slum to paint in.

I don’t work with NGOs or fixers, and I don’t have sponsors or anyone to tell me where to go. I use satellite images to identify possible slums and then I simply go and visit them by foot.

The aim is to work in a marginalised area of the city, and to paint the words that the inhabitants want to express and share.

I spontaneously go to slums, meet people – who usually think I’m lost – and do my best to explain the project using my hands, a few odd words and a bunch of photos.

I’m here with Spag Bertin, a brilliant photographer with whom I started Share The Word Project in 2013, and with our friend Dudu who’s assisting as usual ! It feels great to be back in the areas where I feel that my work has the biggest impact.

Photo by Spag Bertin


Meet Dudu, my friend and assistant on Share The Word Project !

We’re both from Caen in Normandy and met at our football stadium.

When I was still a teenager he taught me how to make huge flags and displays using sheets if plastic. Being a few years older than me, he made sure I knew how to express myself with this medium.

Nowadays, Dudu (also known as شيخ الحج ) helps me with the painting in slums and refugee camps. In most of these places, I do not have access to good spray paint so I have to stick to paint brushes. As much as I enjoy working with brushes, it clearly takes a lot more time than using aerosol. This is one of the reasons why I need someone helping me. Also, logistics can be tricky in certain places and working as a duo makes everything easier and a lot more fun!

Not only is he a very clean painter but he also has 3 compulsory qualities for Share The Word Project : he finds solutions to the wide range of problems slum life throws at us; he adapts easily and blends in with the local communities; and he doesn’t panic. When he was held hostage by a gang in the Ivory Coast, or when we faced 2 men with machine guns in Iraq, we had to stay cold blooded and I knew things would be okay with Dudu! Also he has long arms which is often very handy!

Painting is a game you often play on your own, but I love these moments when we work as a team, with top lad Spag Bertin on the cameras, and Dudu and I on the murals !

Can’t wait to get back at it! Sharing these moments with your best friends make them even more special !The third picture is by Spag Bertin

Lannion, France

Installation on a bridge in Lannion, FR.

Using sheets of plastic and tape, I put together this design with a bunch of volunteers!

The different patterns symbolise elements of the local landscape around Lannion: the sea, timber framing, the Brelevenez steps, red hydrangeas, and oak trees.

I’ve been using this technique for years to create displays in my local football stadium. It was a pleasure to be able to bring this artform outside the stadium !

Looking forward to making more of these!

Size: 37,5 x 4,8 meters.

Thank you to @le_grand_palais for inviting me! Thank you to Pascale and Maeva for the organisation and thank you to the volunteers!


Siamonoism artwork at La Virgule, Morlaix, FR.

The term « siamonoism » comes from the italian phrase « … siamo noi » ( =we are … ) which is used by ultras of many italian football clubs in order highlight their identity like in the famous « Milano siamo noi » chant.

« Siamonoism » designates artwork or artists who’ve emerged from ultras groups or who are inspired by the subculture.Mainstream media and other ignorant sources have often depicted the ultras scene as hooliganism, when in reality « ultra » and « hooligan » are two very different cultures. The ultras scene is a worldwide phenomenon born in Italy in the late 60s and that revolutionised football support by structuring and organising groups of fans. This extremely creative scene starting using multiple ways of bringing visual and audio support to their clubs, as well as to communicate with their own members.

Sewing flags, painting banners, taking pictures, writing fanzines or writing songs, and designing scarves, are among the many creative activities inherent to the ultras scene.

I have never received any type of formal artistic education, instead I learned my trade at my local football stadium in Caen as a teenager, by working on huge banners and displays which covered whole sections of the stadium on matchdays.

The use of capital letters, bold colours, high contrasts and the search for brutal visual impacts have stayed with me ever since.@le_grand_palais in partnership with @la_villette have invited me to a festival in Britanny where I’ve put together some artwork using sheets of plastic and tape just like I’ve done for years in my local stadium.

Here, the different patterns represent different elements of the local landscape.

Thank you to Pascale, Maëva and Clemence for organising this, and thank you to the people who joined in!