Street Fans unites two seemingly disparate fields of artistry: fan making and street art. Our co-conspirator, Codex Urbanus helped us to track down some of the top street artists working in the UK and France today who are all set to team up with master fan maker, Sylvain Le Guen, to put fan making back on the map.
Let’s get to know a few of the them…
Sr. X : Currently based in London, Sr. X hails from the North of Spain. Inspired by pop culture, films, vintage print, urban legends and more, he brings the cityscape to life with stencils, paste-ups and installations. Deftly blending irony and humour he creates instantly recognisable graphics which comment on society, politics and culture.
What makes this project different?
Linking the expertise and tradition of The Fan Museum and Master fan maker, Sylvain Le Guen with some of the very best street artists of the current scene is what makes this project so exciting, innovative and unique.
Dale Grimshaw: Lancashire born Dale Grimshaw decorates the streets of London with instantly recognisable portraits of indigenous people. Often on a grand scale, his subjects are painted with meticulous attention to detail, arresting the passerby with the intensity of their gaze.
Dale has been invited to festivals nationally and internationally and only recently painted a wall at the Memorie Urbane Festival, Italy
You’re known for your large-scale murals. How do you adapt your techniques to fit within the parameters of a fan?
I work out a lot of paintings on both walls & canvas with digital sketches/collages - moving digital elements around until I'm happy, so I used this approach with the fan & it worked fine. My main concern was getting a flat even layer of paint. In the studio when I work with oils or acrylic, I paint with an impasto approach, so I had to think of ways around this.
Giacomo Bufarini, Run : Born in Italy but based mostly in London, RUN’s work adorns buildings and outdoor spaces across the globe. His distinctive figures bring bold forms and striking colours to both city and village, creating playful interactions with passersby. The often monumental scale of his works captivates the viewer, encouraging them to pause and enjoy. In 2016 he published a monograph entitled Time Travelling Artist Man which documents his creative journeys to destinations like Senegal and China.
You often incorporate fan motifs in your work and in fact sometimes paint fans too. What attracts you to fans, and what drew you to this project in the first place?
I bought my first collection of paper fans in China (Shenzhen) in the district of Dafen. In this district, armies of skilled artists paint endless copies of master painters of the past. The fans (about 40 pieces) were on sale in one of the many art shops there. They were made to be painted and then mounted on the stick frame. I brought them back to Europe with me and have been painting them since then.
A fan for me is such an ambiguous object, it has many purposes; it is as beautiful and essential as it is fugacious and transitory. When I look at a fan and I play with it I think about Time, past-present-future, and rhythm. It is, in fact, the rhythm of the shape of it that attracted me the most. The zig zag movement, gentle and sharp and the perfection that this object contains.
When The Fan Museum proposed the group show Street Fans to me, my first thought was 'but do they know that I paint fans already …?’
Codex Urbanus : Paris-born and bred, Codex Urbanus has been painting the walls of his beloved city since 2011. His trademark hybrid, fantastical animals are ubiquitous, transforming the streets of Paris into a kind of Wunderkammer. Influenced by genetics, science and cartoonists, Codex is working closely with The Fan Museum to bring Street Fans to fruition.
This project brings together two distinctly different forms of artistry. What can we expect from this unexpected liaison?
I do not think both forms of artistry are so far away from each other. Both are graphic arts, making their ways a part of what's expected - a framed drawing or canvas. For centuries, artists have provided pictures on fans, from the 18th century "scènes galantes" to 19th century impressionist landscapes and art nouveau illustrations. It is, in fact, natural that graffiti and street artists, with their contemporary techniques - spray paint, stencils, paint markers - carry on with this tradition!