27 October 2015
Translation: Evol, Facade Artist
This article by Hugo Vitrani was originally published on Mediapart in French in October 2015.
Evol is a master unlike any other: through trompe-l’œil effects, his prefabricated construction sites make appear anonymous and popular facades in the public space. Nothing that is inhabitable, nothing new: these facade habitations are painted through aerosol bombs and stencils. By dissimulating these clandestine mini-monuments in certain dead zones in our environment, the German artist pays homage to the invisibles, located in the periphery of the cities, and the urban policies on housing from the RDA (African Democratic Assembly) era to ours.
Disillusion. “The trompe-l’œil does not represent, it reconstructs,” writes Claude Levi-Strauss in “Look, Listen, Read" (1993). He adds, “The trompe-l’œil seizes upon and shows what we had not seen — or what we had not seen well, or in passing — and that now, thanks to it, we will always see.” Through his interventions founded in the often dirty background in ruins, Evol reveals the social tension that plays out in our ghost cities with their back against the wall.
Home sweet home. Evol works in the abandoned zones of our cities marked by the passage of time (strictly utilitarian urban real estate, industrial wastelands …). A decrepit subject that he uses as a backdrop. His tools palette is reductive: paint bombs and some basic stencils that he can organize as he wishes, a way of creating a precarious and prefabricated painting, just like the architecture he paints.
Urban. Born in Heilbronn in 1972, Evol now works and lives in Berlin. Having studied at the Kupio Academy of Arts and Crafts in Finland and then having pursued design studies in Germany, Evol cut his teeth with grafitti with Pisa73, his collaboration with the CTink Collective. Rather than repeating the classical canon of the field, Evol prefers to discretely distort and disrupt public space. In the book “A/React” (Drago, 2007), we find the presages of his work up to the first Blocks painted on electrical cabins, which he imagines as “monuments to the invisibles.”
Visual tool. It all began with unemployment, when the broke artist was clocking in at an employment center. The architecture of the place, a former Stasi building, caught his eye and struck his conscience. So, he took several photographs of the windows of this facade, which he has been deconstructing and remixing since in his paintings. For Evol, the windows are just “symbols.” Their HLM (affordable housing) bars thus function as Daniel Buren’s lines: they are “visual tools” that change our perspective of the public space.
Thoughts. Nature and concrete, dwellings without inhabitants, macro and micro … Evol makes his paintings by confronting opposites. Sometimes, the windows are broken or walled up, like in this diptych, "Broken Window, Theory and Praxis," as an echo of the repressive Broken Windows theory.
Recycled. Evol does not limit himself to working outdoors and also works in a studio. His miniature city installations, his films and stencils on recycled cardboard are on exhibit at various institutions today. In 2011, he received the Slick prize given by Beaux-Arts Magazine in France. Although he has received recognition, Evol remains discreet, does not make much of his project and appears very rarely in the media. His very complex stencils on worn out cardboard have elevated him to the level of one of the best stencil creators in Europe.
In the news. Evol is exhibiting in Siberia at the “Touching Practices” Biennale at the Krasnoyarsk Museum Center until Nov. 30, 2015…
and in Berlin in the “Radikal Modern” exhibit at the Berlinische Gallery until Oct. 26, 2015.
More than anything, you can discover, by chance, vestiges of his paintings in the streets of the cities he has passed through, from Paris to Istanbul.