For a graffiti artist, it is a difficult task to bring graffiti paintings and show them in a gallery setting. Of course, there is always the risk of being snubbed by the artistic elite, but on the other hand, you risk judgement from your peers and being labeled a “sell out.” French graffiti artist Ed Broner has undergone a lifelong transition from a rebellious teenager tagging buildings in Paris to a legitimate artist showing a collection in a gallery. We sat down for a talk with this fascinating artist at Morgen Contemporary in Mitte to discuss his artistic journey of self-discovery that has led him to this point.
BAPS: You have been making graffiti art most of your life. How has your work changed since you first starting tagging as a boy?
EB: First of all, a lot more research has gone into my work since then. When I was 17 and was working on the street, I had an inspirational moment which changed my career. I was in the south of France in Toulouse and saw an exhibition of Aboriginal paintings though the window a gallery. I was so amazed by these colors and dots in the paintings and the emotion behind the work. So I said to myself, “One day I will paint with emotion like that.” So I spent several months in Australia with an Aboriginal art community, Yuendumu, as an exchange student to learn their painting techniques. Afterwards my art became more spontaneous and rushed – full of emotion, similar to the Aboriginal styles. I tried to create a new language by combining my graffiti with this technique.
BAPS: What made you decide to take your art from the street and begin making paintings in a studio?
EB: Before, when I was primarily doing graffiti on the street, it was just something that was a part of the movement. When I was doing graffiti and tagging my name everywhere in Paris and Berlin I began to realize that I was just doing a letter or figures and it was not challenging at all for me. So I started painting on canvases in 1992 to develop myself as an artist.
“Love me Tender” painting by Ed Broner. Photo by: Chris Phillips
BAPS: You write on your website that a lot of your work was inspired by your own personal journey. How have experiences in your life influenced your work?
EB: Like I said I really like to paint my emotions, so a lot of my work depends on my mood at the time that I am doing the painting. This is also part of why I do my paintings very spontaneously without any planning or preliminary sketches, I just let my raw emotions flow onto the canvas. I am also influenced by people I’ve met or experiences I have had which created certain emotions. I had a time of emotional turmoil a few years ago when I lost a very close friend of mine. So at that time I started incorporating a lot more skulls into my paintings – not because they were trendy or popular – but because to me they symbolized me coming face to face with death.
I try to convey these different emotions that I am having to the audience through the colors, arrangement of the subjects, or the words or tags that I put in my paintings. Like when I write ‘Love’ in a painting, it is not just a word, it has a deeper meaning than just normal writing. These are the emotions that I want to convey to the audience.
- Morgen Contemporary “La Boheme” by Ed Broner. Prices range from 12.000-22.000 euros. October 20th 2012-November 23rd 2012. Opening: Saturday October 20th: 7pm