American and French artists give hope to a giant Parisian fresco

PARIS (Associated Press) – A colorful human face emerges from the waves as a call for hope above a Parisian street, in a giant message of optimism from American and French street artists painting a massive mural in the French capital which is slowly emerging from its viral isolation.

Illustrator AJ Dungo, 29, who lives in California, and French graffiti artist Da Cruz, 44, began work in mid-June on a 25-meter (82-foot) mural in the northeastern 19th arrondissement. from Paris.

The project, which will open on Saturday, is a symbol of the creative rebirth, of the reconnection between the two cultures after the closure.

Da Cruz, who grew up in this Parisian neighborhood and travels regularly to different continents, said it had been difficult for him to see his plans halted amid the pandemic.

“I work in the street because I like to show my message to so many different people, and I miss hearing people speak another language and being able to communicate with them through drawing… There is always a bridge created. by the colors, he told The Presse Associée.

The project is supported by the French-American Mural Arts Program (FAMA), led by the Embassy of the United States, in partnership with the local Ourcq Living Colors Festival.

AJ Dungo and Da Cruz have chosen to represent stylized waves at the bottom of the fresco, and an explosion of colors above the central human face, inspired by South America and Africa.

“We wanted to do something really upbeat and celebratory, because after a tragic year that everyone has had, we thought it might help the community cheer up a bit and give them some hope with a meaningful photo, ”said AJ Dungo.

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For AJ Dungo, best known for his 2019 graphic novel “In Waves,” the giant mural is also a first – the largest work of art he has ever produced. “I think the last thing I painted was my niece’s bedroom for her sixth birthday. I loved a small mural of an elephant, pencil and butterflies. “

For over a year, artists around the world have been restricted due to virus restrictions. California has gradually lifted most of the measures in recent weeks. France started reopening its economy last month, including museums, theaters, cinemas and concert halls.

“We were locked up (at home), we were released, we went out again”, said Da Cruz, so the fresco represents “this human energy that makes us overcome the difficulties of life”.

AJ Dungo pointed out that for many artists, the past year has meant “the drying up of inspiration”.

“People were more concerned with their livelihoods, families and loved ones so that they could create meaningful art,” he said.

Some have been very productive, he added, “But overall the consensus among the creators that I have met has been a very frustrating and difficult time… so you can expect a huge explosion of expression in the months and years to come, because people will have a lot to say about what we have been through. All together. “