In a post-truth cultural climate where the next big thing is just a click away, and where stuff labeled as limited is automatically mistaken for being valuable, we are lucky to have an artist like SP38 around to bring us back down to Earth, reminding us of the things that really matter.
Originally hailing from Normandy, the painter and performer known as SP38 has been calling Berlin his home for twenty years already. Inspired by the alternative “anything goes“ vibe Germany’s capital was notorious for in the mid-90s, this French-born artist creates unique posters combining silk-printing and painting techniques with thought-provoking slogans, filling numerous public spaces across towns and countries for years.
Signature statements SP38 spreads – “VIVE LA BOURGEOISIE”, “ESCAPE“, “SNOW IS WATER“ – are equally inspired by literature, politics and his dynamic personal life. They are transferred onto paper shaped by his trademark typography characterized by thin, elongated letters reminiscent of handwriting. More than often they reflect on current events, skipping the frustration, and aiming to ignite a relevant dialogue with the city and its inhabitants to make a change in thinking and in the environment.
VIVE SP38 · 20YEARSASLAVEINMITTE
“In one way or another, my work is strongly connected to the time in which it was created, regardless if it’s made on a political or personal scale. I still like ‘Snow is Water’, one of my early works, a lot because it reminds me of my first winter in Berlin, a really cold and harsh one. Twenty years ago, Berlin really was a symbol for a certain kind of alternative lifestyle, and it’s a bit sad to see that the city has developed in the very same direction like any other major city – which automatically implies that it lost a lot of its soul and its original spirit.“
The era when Berlin was considered to be a city of enormous contradictions seems to be over. The metropolis might still feel vibrant and alive – and in comparison with other metropolises even fresh and open-minded – but this jungle of concrete has become somewhat of a human zoo as the society grew more decadent over the years. A voluntary Berliner, SP38, serves as an active chronicler of this transformation. His urban poetry has been making commentary on this permanent change ever since he first started to fuse silk-printing and typography with paste-up. He is the voice of an urban dweller, visually presenting his opinions on big and small, personal and universal matters.
After a successful intermezzo in New York, SP38 returned to OPEN WALLS Gallery in November 2015 with a show titled “Vive SP38!“, which elaborated on the first twenty years SP38 spent as a Berlin resident. Showcasing twenty different posters along with twenty photographs – including a brand-new series specially made for this exhibition – this particular kind of retrospective wasn’t only a demonstration of the artist’s impressive skill-set, but also a reminder of the sense of fun and excitement civil disobedience once contained.
“The slogans I come up with are based on literature as much as they are based on politics, on my own past and events of the day as well. What connects them is that they’re always related to the one very concrete moment… and a lot of the slogans obviously fit Berlin. Like the “Swim or Die” a poster I did when Stattbad was going down – that’s something that surely has a universal validity for the whole city by now. And these kinds of things really happen fast, the process isn’t an elaborately deliberate one. It’s a kind of dialogue with the city, one that’s spontaneous and driven by instinct.“
- 2015 · Vive SP38 · OPEN WALLS Gallery · Berlin (Germany)
- 2015 · Slave for sale · Paris (France)
- 2015 · Quai 36 ” Gare du Nord · Paris (France)
- 2015 · rue INSTIN · Paris (France)
- 2015 · Dirty Harry vol.2 · Paris (France)
- 2015 · Escape, legalize freedom · New York (U.S.A)
- 2014 · Street collective 2 · Paris (France)
- 2014 · Rencontres · Mers sur Indre (France)
- 2014 · Paris Zone libre 3 · Paris (France)
- 2014 · 1rst Mural Pienale · Dong Pyrang (South Korea)
- 2014 · Typozine · Warsaw (Poland)
- 2014 · Haribo Verboten · Berlin (Germany)
- 2014 · Inspire Collective · Jerusalem (Israel)
- 2013 · Reclaim Your City · Berlin (Germany)
- 2013 · Druck Berlin · Berlin (Germany)
- 2013 · Mythiq 27 · Paris (France)
- 2013 · Graves · Victoriaville (Canada)
- 2013 · Following or not · New York (USA)
- 2013 · Under pressure · Montreal (Canada)
- 2013 · Viva ! · Montreal (Canada)
- 2013 · Street art · Le Cosset (France)
- 2013 · Ex voo · Avallon (France)
- 2013 · The urban artist home · Brussels (Belgium)
- 2013 · Collective street 1 · Paris (France)
- 2013 · Paris Zone Libre 2 · Paris (France)
- 2013 · Cut · Berlin (Germany)
- 2013 · Instin collage · Toronto (Canada)
- 2013 · Les murs ont la parole · Paris (France)
- 2013 · Instin · Montpellier (France)
- 2013 · Escapade en librairie · Montpellier (France)
- 2013 · Mix art · Berlin (Germany)