The Street, Hopare’s Art Galery

To begin this series of articles, I would like to talk about an artist that I really like: Hopare.

Behind the pseudonym of Hopare is a young man (born in 1989) by the name of Alexandre Monteiro. He grew up in Limours, just outside Paris, and very recently sold one of his oil and ink canvas paintings, Pérou, for 22800 euros during an auction at Artcurial. Hopare is starting to make a name for himself, part of a generation of young “street artists[1]”  that also create and sell works in galeries. His media of choice is very varied: from the wall of the rue des Maronites for exemple, to canvas and collage, and interior design and textile printing.

Hopare’s work often revolves around portraits, filled with colours and divided by parallel or crossing lines, lines which the artist speaks of as “the perfect diamond“.  Through these lines and the acute forms that they create, his work therefore mixes abstraction with the figurative motif of portrait. We can see the characteristics of graffiti (that he enjoyed as a teenager) in the distinct colours, and in segments which create faces that become apparent the closer you get to the work. Hopare has many influences: the idea of movement, inherited from Italian futurism and artists such as Marinetti or Balla or the plastic and street artist Shaka where faces are wrapped in lines and colours.

The themes chosen by the artist are extremely varied and universal, not necessarily linked to a particularclaim or political ideal, as is often the case in the world of graffiti. In general, it is movement and the relationship between man and the urban world which are depicted, inspired by observations from the metro or at parties, of faces or painted decorations.

He discovered graffiti in an abandoned factory in Limours, according to him “at the age of 13 or 14”. His Art teacher followed his students to this place which was so appropriate for street art. His teacher is none other than Shaka, aka Marchal Mithouard. One day, after having been fined 3000 euros for having painted on a wall without authorisation, he is required to do community service, including initiating handicapped people to graffiti. The town of Limours decided to recognise his talent by organising an exhibition of his works on canvas, where he sold almost all the pieces that were present. Despite his growing success, Hopare continues to practice street art illegally, to rediscover the adrenaline of working quickly and in secret, because “if it all becomes legal it would no longer have the excitement of a game of cat and mouse with the police”

It is also worth mentioning his pseudonym, which he came across somewhat by chance and which allowed him to have an« esthetically pleasing calligraphy ». In fact, it is the search for his name that defined his very graphic style, bringing together the movement of circles and very strong, well defined lines. As with the creation of his name, a lot of thought goes into the creation of his works, while at the same time being the result of a great deal of spontaneity, in order to spark emotion and appeasement with the spectator. He « arrives in front of the wall and freestyles », then corrects certain aspects to create a harmonious effect, even if according to him his work is never perfect: it can always be improved. The base, made up of drawings and photos, therefore evolves as it is been created to avoid it being too sleek, too refined, for an artist that is proud of not having gone to an art school and of being trained by artists in the street, simply by watching what they were doing.

There are two work that I particularly admire in Paris, one is a « wild » work: a collage in the rue des Blancs-Manteaux (in the Marais) and I urge you to go and see it soon before it is torn or taken down. The other is a painted wall which was commissioned, rue des Maronites (Ménilmontant). Soon, Paris will have another work in the 2nd arrondissement, commissioned by the town hall, following a vote which promoted the 2014 project entitled « Works of Art invest in the street”.

[1] I use this term with caution, as even though it has been widespread for several years it is more or a general term rather than a word used by the artists themselves.

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