Proud to announce my collab with French fashion brand BIZZBEE! I painted at their flagship store in Paris for the releasing of the collab. I created designs while I was in the Ivory Coast for both womenswear and menswear. Check them out on Bizzbee’s online store! They’re available in all 70 stores in France and the ship anywhere in France. 

 

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Refugees aren’t just numbers thrown into political debates, they are real people. I’m lucky to have met and worked with many of them in Kenya, France, Iraq, Palestine and Uganda and I’m thankful for what they have taught me about the world, their cultures, and human resilience. I think about them all the time and mostly these thoughts make me smile because of the great moments we shared. But sometimes thinking about them fucking hurts. For real. And whenever I hear about new waves of people fleeing a country, I’m under the impression that I know these people. I can see their faces and hear their stories of being forced to leave home because a bunch of powerful people fucked up. I sit there at night, searching about South Sudan, Congo or Venezuela, tears blurring my vision because it’s not just a piece of information that will disappear as soon as the next celebrity dies or has a baby, it’s not just a number, these are real people.

On the bright side, I believe there’s always something we can do, whether it be by helping people who have fled, or creating a future where people won’t have to flee.

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(Photo : Balata, Palestine, 2018)

Nature, Day and Night.

I have just completed this 2-piece mural on a tower in Mayenne, France. It was built on the West of France’s highest peak, enabling people to admire the view from above the trees at 18 meters above the ground.
As usual, I freestyled the mural. While I was painting the first coat in white, I started thinking about what I was going to paint. Being immersed on my own in a Natural Park, I thought of portraying the surrounding nature through my patterns, with one wall showing nature at night, and the other nature during daytime. The “night” wall shows a moon, closed flowers, a lightning pattern, a starry night and silhoutes of flying owls. The “day” wall shows the sun, open flowers, a cloudy sky, buzzards, etc… Nature itself is a beautiful yet fragile balance between the elements. I had this in mind as I improvised the mural, balancing lines, colours and shapes.

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67137443_1492057607602009_207986621692248064_n(Photo: @lordey_thomas)

I was honored to be part of the Forum Mondial Normandie pour la Paix. It’s an annual event adressing issues relating to peace with Nobel Peace prize winners, polititians, journalists and other personalities. I painted the word “Union” which was chosen by a group of pupils from different european nationalities who used to be at war 75 years ago, and I talked about my work with Congolese refugees and with Colombian comminties including IDPs.
Talking about these issues is totaly part of my work as I see “Share The Word Project” as a bridge between maginalised or war-torn communities and the “outside world”. I believe art can have a real impact! .

 

 

This is one of the pieces I designed for French brand Bizzbee ! It’s available in Bizzbee shops all over France and online (delivery to France only).
I always look at what people are wearing wherever I am in the world as I find it very inspiring. It’s nice to finally create designs that people are going to be able to wear!

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“Par SMS”, a hand painted collage from my lastest show at Institut Français de Côte d’Ivoire in Abidjan. I was thrilled to show canvases and collages for the first time in Africa after painting many murals on the continent. I always come back from Africa thinking I’ve learnt so much more that I’ve taught.

 

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Today my friend/helper Dudu was held hostage by the gang members while I was only allowed to walk out of the slum to fetch money to pay the ransom. We have now left the slum and won’t ever go back.

I knew from the start that this was going to be a tough place to work in. I was “welcomed” very aggressively on the first day a month ago, and we’ve had to be tactical with the gang ever since.

We know all the gangsters by now, but in this slum you learn very quickly not to trust anyone holding a weapon. Today, they came to fetch us and brought us to the leader. He said we needed to pay 100 000 CFA Francs (150 euros) for having filmed in the slum, something we were never told we couldn’t do. It was an excuse to get money off us, something the gang has been wanting to do for a while. They told us that they had men at all the exits so we couldn’t escape. For Dudu and I it was all about keeping cool, using our experience of these type of ghettos, and showing we weren’t impressed by them and their knives.

I managed to only pay half and make them believe I’m going to come back tomorrow to pay the rest because I didn’t have it at home, and my bank is in an other part of the city. The gang members know where we live because they sent a kid to follow us home one day. So we’ve just left and are staying with friends in another part of the city. Dudu and I are fine, just exhausted.

It’s a shame we couldn’t say goodbye to all the people who really liked us in the slum. It was only the gang members who were causing trouble, not the rest of the locals. In fact the rest were particularly sweet people who suffer daily from the gang’s activities. I’m glad we were able to face those difficulties and paint in that almost-impossible environment because it’s exactly what “Share The Word Project” is all about: panting in marginalised communities, and tough ghettos. Although we won’t finish this last wall, for Dudu and I it’s mission accomplished. It was hard, but we leave with plenty of great memories!
Lots of love to our friends in the slum! 

This picture was the last Dudu took before the gang “interrupted” us.

 

 

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