Prolific French artist Christian Guémy aka C215 recently opened a double solo show interpreting the cultural history of contemporary France. Showing both at Itinerrance Gallery in Paris and Le Palais Benedictine in Fecamp, “Douce France” is a two part show that examines French culture and history. Featuring both positive and negative aspects of country’s past and present, the show includes stencil portraits of important figures from the worlds of politics, literature, music, sports, cinema, architecture, science and popular culture in general.
Along with portraying popular icons of French identity, the artist connected the icons with their stories by working with carefully-picked media. The periodic table of elements for Pierre and Marie Curie, a phone booth for Claude François, a urinal for Duchamp, a map of the Mediterranean for Jacques Cousteau, a radio station for de Gaulle — each of these elements gives a second level of interpretation to the works. This connection between subjects and objects is a witty continuation of C215’s street art, which he often paints on various surfaces such as postal boxes, phone booths and such. With complex installations that include murals and large objects installed within the exhibiting space, the artist is giving visitors a chance to stroll along a memory lane of French history.
While the exhibition at the Itinerrance Gallery was on view from June 20 to July 5, the show at the Palais Benedictine continues through September 9. These exhibitions are accompanied with the release of a book about the project, which brings together fifty portraits of popular figures portrayed by C215 in an attempt to restore his vision of French identity while honoring the popular symbols of his childhood.