For many reasons, France means a lot to you. What’s your special relation with our country?
Well my wife is French, so this is pretty interesting. I’ve been coming here since my first exhibition in Paris in ’81 and I get excited every time I get a chance to go back and I was here only 5 weeks ago for the Agnès B. show (see here), so here I am.
Agnès B. played a crucial role in your comeback in the nineties when she bought a few paintings from you, allowing you to get a new studio in New York. Can you explain us how everything happened and what’s your relation with her today?
Well, I mean Agnès has always been very supportive of street art, this whole movement and I was very fortunate to meet her in the late 80’s. Yes, she did help me very much by investing in my work and as a result I was able to continue painting. At that period I wasn’t really focusing on art so much and she did help to kind of get me going and then helped me with the studio, gave me a condition in Paris. I saw her when I was here for the show a few weeks ago and yeah, the relationship is amazing. She’s such a beautiful person and I’m grateful of her support. If there were not Agnès, a lot of what’s happening in Paris for our movement wouldn’t be possible. And it’s from her heart, it’s genuine love and this is rare you know… it’s very rare.
You presented brand new works last year at your Strategic Synchronicity Exhibition in LA (see here) and it was a huge success. Is that something that surprised you back then and do you plans to do more big solo shows in different cities?
Well I mean I was surprised! We had this work, we created all this work for this show, like kind of a pop-up show, it was very well received. With that group Krunk who was working on that project, we also did a little something in Dubai (see here) which you mentioned, kind of a Part. II of my working with them. Recently there has been some difficulties with that group, for whatever reason, it’s totally cruel. I did this thing in Germany (see here), which was kind of a small version of that pop-up show, but they were friends of mine in Berlin, they had that space and it was pretty easy. In December, I’m going to do something in Stockholm, similar to Germany expect everything will be new. Berlin was more the continuation of paintings from L.A., paintings from Dubai, new works… Now what we’re going to do is just move forward, do some new paintings, new drawings. Similar in that it will be an outside of the gallery sort of space event. I will also for the first time properly exhibit some of my photographs, which I’ve been wanting to do. I’m going to create some light boxes to display the photos, to kind of make them a little more aggressive. That’s exciting! But as far as future shows, I mean not really, not on a bigger scale, I like that pop-up idea. It’s pretty good because you can make the work for the show more or less and that’s what I want to do. I don’t want to continue the show with the works or whatever…
You’ve said in many occasions that you used to feel manipulated and exploited by the gallery scene in the 80’s. How did the situation change today?
Well, as far as the economics go, it’s still the same principles: 50/50…ok. The problem was that at that time I thought… you know… “I’m manipulated”… whatever, I didn’t completely agree with that thing at that time, what can I do? Today I’m a bit in a position where for example, if someone’s going to produce that show, the economics can be discussed, it’s not like written in stone. So probably they’d say: “For your involvement, you will get 40%”. If I can change the dynamics, because now I’m sort of doing an art show, but I’m not in the Art World, so it means I can change the rules a little bit. It becomes less about the space and more about the works. So, yeah I mean, this is not a formula for the future, it’s not something like “Yeah I’m going to eliminate the Gallery”, no, not at all, it’s just a situation of timing and of what was happening. This is my feeling 25 years ago. Today if I have a real gallery, someone who wanted to represent me in some way, perhaps I would consider that, but we’ll see, I mean… the future is… weird.
You started writing your name as a graffiti writer out of a strong desire to communicate. What’s driving you 40 years later?
I still want to communicate, I really do, yeah! It’s just that today it’s not happening that way. Today it’s happening online. What I’m trying to do with my Flickr, my own site, which is just, you know, nothing special, is share my personal experience, which I think is just as interesting as my work, maybe more actually. I mean today it’s easier to communicate that we once did with a marker and spray paint; it’s not limited to writing on the wall. Everyone’s doing it in a different way. Some people communicate through their sense of fashion, some people are writing, some people take photos. I’m trying to make a creative medium. For the moment, I find myself really into this whole photographic period.