Artist Ouvrier, known for his street art in Paris, is here to popularise the art

A man and woman stroll down a bridge clad in 19th century fashion in Paris. But almost elbowing the scene to the side is a towering Hayagriva, the horse faced avatar of Vishnu.

The layering of two distinct images and stories sits well on canvas, only because of a stencil, a relatively new art form.

This month Artist Ouvrier, known for his street art in Paris, is in Puducherry to popularise the art which gained momentum a few decades ago.

Stencil art is usually associated with graffiti on streets and artists use stencils to send out political or activist messages.

Though a street artist, Mr. Ouvrier also uses stencil to create art on canvas and wood and has displayed them in major international cities. Stencils are cut out of paper or cardboard and spray paint is used through the stencil to create images.

Though some of the work resembles photographs and famous paintings, it is his individual take on them, says Mr. Ouvrier.

“I break down an existing picture and create one of my own. Even a portrait or a photograph of a person can be interpreted in a different way with stencils.”

At Artika Gallery this month, the artist has used stencil on canvas suspended between bamboo poles.

Utility objects like tables and teak stools turn into pieces of art with their surfaces covered with fantasy lands and magical forests, all stencilled in.

A woman decked in a sari and jewellery is stencilled on three planks of wood.

“These woods are from the wreckage of a boat. It is possible to turn junk into high value by making art out of it,” says Mr. Ouvrier.

He has perfected the technique of using multiple colours in stencils and getting the detailing right in intricate jewellery work of gods and goddesses.

The blend of Indian and French themes like Paris street scenes with Indian mythologies are a reflection of his jaunts in Paris and Pondicherry.

But the recurring butterfly wings which give women a nymphlike appearance are a touch of his wife and student Aye Cherie who has collaborated with him for the first time in an exhibition.

Mr. Ouvrier’s students have created stencil and street art with their own distinctive touches in various cities.

“Stencil art is relatively a young form. It is just catching on,” he explains the reason why India does not have many stencil artists.

“Working class artist”

Though avant-garde, he has no qualms in being considered as a working class artist, who is commissioned work. “The famous artists of the Renaissance were all working class and they undertook work for the Church.”

The show ‘Buzzling light’ is open from 9.30am to 9.30pm at Artika Gallery till the first week of May.

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