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Nice : From tag hunting to a wall of expression, street art is slowly imposing itself in the city

CULTURE Galeries Lafayette has collaborated with three street artists for the launch of their new collection, the works will remain under the arcades of the Place Masséna until 20 March..

Ten years ago, the city of Nice was hunting for tagsToday, we are inaugurating a wall of free expression. Little by little, we are making our art acceptable", says Otom, the founder of the association Whole StreetIn this way, he shows "that everyone can get involved and develop their style. It's important for representation. For seven years, he has been fighting for the development of urban art à Nice.

The association was to create an entity of street artists and to discuss with the public authorities," continues the man from Nice. Today, there are about ten of us. We have been asked to work on the tram, on a site in Lingostière. People are starting to want to have art in the street. The aim is to be present in the public space and to continue partnerships with the private sector. It is in this context that the Galeries Lafayette have also asked three street artists to personalise the arcades [which they own] for the launch of their new "Happy Galeries" collection.

Otom, Brian Caddy and César Malfi took up the challenge. In four days, they created ephemeral works on the twenty or so pillars on paper laminated to avoid damaging the arches. Shapes and colours, anamorphoses or portraits. Each one has its own style.


Otom, the portraitist


Faces that represent "joie de vivre, bright smiles and laughing eyes". This is the touch ofOtomwho has been a street artist "forever". "Making portraits is a way of paying tribute to a person. I like to transpose this human side onto the walls.

In 2014, he created the Whole Street association to bring artists together. With no real representation and a "tag hunt", they are few and far between on the Coast. "We are in a city where the dominant culture is that of luxury. So it's all about educating the population about our art form that we undertake with our projects. Even if the movement takes off in other cities, Otom will remain on the coast. "It's always interesting to create something. If I do like the others and leave, street art in Nice will never have its place. We might as well be the ones to do it.

Moreover, with the Masséna arcades, "it's the first time we've brought urban art to the heart of Nice. People are not used to seeing it there. But with this period, it touches them to have access to works of art, whatever they are.


The anamorphoses of César Malfi


César Malfiagrees with Otom. "We are in a city of artists. It's a real challenge to develop urban art. He does it through anamorphoses. He wants the viewer to "move around and play with the work". In this way, he "communicates with the person". "I know that we will never be able to democratise vandalism, so I want to go further and make everyone benefit in my own way.

He explains: "I want to create a dialogue with passers-by by putting them at the heart of my works. He is also inspired by the Renaissance, which he considers to be "the height of pictorial quality". Even if he likes this "more traditional" art, in the street, "there is a stronger message". "The walls are not removable. The work frozen in one place gives it more value. It's like putting a piece of me somewhere. He smiles: "The more walls I have covered, the happier I will be."


Actualité - Art urbain dans les entreprises: César Malfi révolutionne!
César Malfi in front of his work under the arcades of the Galeries Lafayette on the Place Masséna in Nice - E. Martin / ANP / 20 Minutes

es formes et la couleur de Brian Caddy


Brian Caddy has been immersed in hip-hop culture since he was 14 years old and is now 32. Around him, the movement was "very shy". "When I started, every graffiti was cleaned up. Thanks to Whole Street, we got closer to the elected officials and we were collaborative in helping to decorate the city in our own way. He then developed his style. "The shapes, the colours, the good vibes." For him, "it's a chance to have the street as a support. We give life back to art and social links. When I paint, I have great exchanges with passers-by.

The artist also confronted the "classics" of art by "winking at those stuck in museums". He went to the museums in the region to paint a work on cellophane in reference to what was inside. "In this way, some curators came to look for my contact.