Shaka has a long track record. His graffiti background includes starting the Paris crew DKP in the early 90s. Shaka’s equally accomplished in fine art and his art today represents his breadth; it just so happens you might see it on a wall or a canvas. Shaka is one of a key class of modern French street artists who’s taken influence from the likes of Van Gogh (but his work is very different to artists like Nowart). But Shaka’s work has developed a three dimensional depth that’s uniquely contemporary. We ask him about his refined caricatures of life…
A Breadth of Influences
I paint since I’m 10 years old, I began with oil painting and drawing. I put my first graffiti on a wall when I was 14 in the south of Paris. I had just found a new way to create, be outside with my friends and change my view of painting, new influences…
My name ‘Shaka’ comes from the time when I was listening to Jamaican music. I chose Shaka for the letters too ‘cause first graffiti is a graphic research, Shaka is the name of the king of Zulus,.. I kept the name, I never changed it.
I was influenced by subculture and alternative culture, street culture of course, punk and Jamaican music. At the beginning, I did a lot of small stencils against racism and messages about anarchy.
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.I studied Art in university, they teached me how to look at a painting, a sculpture or installations, professors sharpened me the glance.
For my 3D work, it’s empirical. I began in 2008 with the wish to realise something really expressive, intense and find another way to give rise to my visions.
I studied art at the university “La Sorbonne” in Paris, I didn’t learn how to draw or to paint but teachers opened my eyes to art.
My canvases are big paintings in a graphic style near to the graffiti but it 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, illegal or not. 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.
I don’t really care about the consequences of my acts. I must like what I do above all, and if the other painters and police men like it, so much the better! (Shaka laughed)
There’s a globalization of the culture, especially for Art, because it’s universal. Thanks to Internet, we have access to many images, in connection with artists of the whole world!
It is difficult in this context to have a cultural independence, to create a single Art, marked by cultural and regional differences. Nevertheless, when I travel, I find different mentalities. I love to confront myself with the cultural differences as when I was in Brazil where I really had this feeling of expatriation, it is very pleasant.
I want enough time to do everything! I intend to prepare a show on a quite particular topic soon too. Thanks to you and dedicated to my Crews DKP PPA ADM