“I am the opposite of all the anxiety that I present in my work.”
The Sorbonne trained French artist Marchal Mithouard, who is arguably better known by his street tag name of Shaka, has for the last 16 years been showing his work in galleries although when time permits the 40 year old likes to return to the freedom of his youth.
As he told the Underground Paris project’s Fernanda Hinke “My canvases are big paintings in a graffiti style, but is not about graffiti. You can make as many graffiti canvases for a gallery as you want, but it will never be graffiti. Graffiti is on a wall, on the street, and illegal. If I go to streets, I want to have the feeling of what graffiti is. To be honest, I don’t really appreciate doing legal walls on the streets, you have a lot of photographers behind you, there’s no freedom. If I have time, I like to go out in the streets to make interventions during the night, alone or with my crew, DKP, in the real way that graffiti is about.”
Mithouard grew up in suburban Paris and started decorating the streets as a teenager.
“I started to do oil painting when I was nine years old. When I came to graffiti, I already had an oeuvre of canvases at home. By the time I was eighteen, my friends and I were students and we did not want to stay at home or paint in a studio. We were looking for fun and graffiti was a way of combining both. Graffiti was really expressive for me. I was not being judged, I was free, I had a new name, I was excited, with good feelings and vibrations. That’s how I discovered a new way to paint… When I started to do graffiti it was just for fun; later, I realized how I could mix graffiti and more traditional painting. Nowadays, my work is a result of all these experiences. I like to mix all of this, in fact it’s the way hip hop exists, mixing things to make music. I work in the same way on canvas, making sculptures, and doing graffiti,” he explained.
Mithouard claims to be the antithesis of the anger and violence inherent in his work through which he attempts to provoke a reaction to the negative aspects of the human condition.
As he has said “I am a very calm person, except when I am in traffic. I have a group of friends since my childhood, my relationship with my family is very positive… I have sixteen personages, [in my paintings] they are all my family and friends. Behind the violence and my energetic color palette, there is a message of sensibility. It’s all about human expression, the movement of their bodies representing the struggle for individuality in social power politics. I like to compare my paintings with how governments work. With the end of the American dynasty for example. One personage will fall for sure, but because of its selfishness and violence, it will push others to fall down with it. I want to provoke a reflection about this selfishness in human behavior.