STREET ART HONG KONG

Christophe Schwarz, aka Zevs, an acclaimed Parisian artist on exhibition at the Art Statements Gallery in Hong Kong (July 16-Sept 30 2009), gained massive fame recently for an ‘action-art’ incident on July 13th, when black paint was dripped down a Chanel logo on the Armani building in Hong Kong’s busy Central district.  He is now detained in Hong Kong, with his passport taken by authorities until the matter is resolved in court in August. Damages are reportedly 6.7 million Hong Kong, or $850,000 USD. Erin Wooters chats with Zevs about his art, the arrest, and his views on brands.

I love the artwork on display here at your show. Did you create it all here in Hong Kong or elsewhere?

Thank you. Yes, I made it all here in Hong Kong in a studio space associated with the Art Statements Gallery. As you can see, I’m also continuing my work on unfinished pieces right here in this exhibition space.

LV Liquidated Black Murakami by Zevs, 2009. Acrylic on Metal. HK$220,000

LV Liquidated Black Murakami by Zevs, 2009. Acrylic on Metal. HK$220,000

Do you own or consume any products made by brands depicted in your artwork?

Not really, I don’t buy designer products like Chanel or Louis Vuitton, but I do drink Coca Cola. And I have tried McDonald’s food before, although I don’t eat it regularly.

Liquidated McDonald, by Zevs, 2009. Oil on wood. 120 x 62 cm. HK$98,000

Liquidated McDonald, by Zevs, 2009. Oil on wood. 120 x 62 cm. HK$98,000

How did you choose the dripping effect for your artwork and the Chanel street piece?

The dripping in the Chanel street piece demonstrates an ongoing theme in my artwork. I have worked with the dripping effect for awhile, starting when I added a dripping blood effect to large-scale photographic billboards of models. I would make it appear like they have been shot or something violent has happened to them. The purpose of this was to get the viewers to stop associating themselves with the model in the photography, as I believe that people automatically identify themselves with such images. However, viewers are repulsed by violence and do not want to associate violence happening to them, and then the viewer is forced to consider the image in an entirely different way. I kept working with the dripping effect throughout my work because it conveys multiple meanings, and visually shows stark contrast and beautiful pattern and texture.

Liquidated Coca Cola, 2009, by Zevs. Oil on wood. 150 x 150 cm. HK$135,000

Liquidated Coca Cola, 2009, by Zevs. Oil on wood. 150 x 150 cm. HK$135,000

How do you create the dripping effect?

With suringes loaded with paint. I get them at a local pharmaceutical.

Did you expect the reaction you got from the Hong Kong authorities and Armani?

No, actually, I didn’t anticipate their reaction. I used a water-based paint that can be removed with the proper cleaning materials, but no one in Hong Kong seems to be equipped to clean it. That is why it is just covered up right now. And unfortunately, the $850,000 price that is being requested for damages is the estimated price for the entire building’s wall.

Liquidated LV, 2009, by Zevs. Oil on wood. 120 x 62 cm. HK$98,000

Liquidated LV, 2009, by Zevs. Oil on wood. 120 x 62 cm. HK$98,000

How was the arrest? Were you treated respectfully during detainment?

The Hong Kong authorities did treat me well. They did not put me in handcuffs or make me uncomfortable. I was detained for about 24 hours and will have a court hearing in Hong Kong.

Have you ever been arrested for creating street art before?

Not really, nothing like this. Oh, once in Paris I was. I was outlining shapes of shadows on the street in chalk, similar to the idea of bodies being outlined in chalk.

Do you plan to create any more street art in Hong Kong while you are here?

No, definitely not.

Contributed by Erin Wooters

Related links:

Zevs’s Site: www.gzzglz.com

Video Interview of Zevs for SCMP

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Brittney

By Brittney

Brittney is a writer, curator and contemporary art gallerist. Born in Singapore and based in New York City, Brittney maintains a deep interest in the contemporary art landscape of Southeast Asia. This is combined with an equally strong interest in contemporary art from the Asian diasporas, alongside the issues of identity, transmigration and global relations.

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