Street art and trompe l’oeil: an art of falsehood

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I just understood it was time! That street art is crossed by a powerful internal movement: trompe l’oeil-mania. To give an idea of the phenomenon, let’s take the example of the site To date, 12,000 photographs of walls and facades and 79,000 photographs of trompe l’oeil have been found. A fashion that spreads at the speed of the electric waves of the Internet and reaches all continents. 

That is a good reason to try to make it clear. First, it is necessary to agree on the words. Trompe l’oeil, 3 D, optical illusions have this in common that the viewer thinks he sees what is not. In this, he is the victim of an illusion. His gaze, he believes, was deceived. The term “optical illusions” refers to a scientific approach to the phenomenon and “illusions” emerge from physics. On the other hand, 3 D and “trompe l’oeil” refer more generally to the world of the arts (sculpture, architecture, painting, photography, etc.). It is a process aimed at creating, through various artifices, the illusion of reality (relief, matter, perspective), a technique of painting, for what we are dealing with today, which consists in representing an object of the absent reality by making us believe that it is there.

It would be exciting to tell the story of the trompe l’oeil in painting. Some see the essence of painting: to make a real absent or imaginary present by graphic traces. Only the break of painting from with representation at the beginning of the twentieth century, introduced in this continuum, a gap. What interests me much more is to understand why today in contemporary urban art we see a resurgence of a process as old as the world. 

Let’s focus on the phenomenon itself. A viewer is deceived by an artist, and he is glad to have been deceived! Put another way, the viewer has fun being fooled!

One of the conditions of illusion is the mastery of “artifices”. Kind of like the magician. Like them, painters must make “artifices” invisible. What are these “artifices”? First, perspective. It gives the impression that the surface becomes volume. That the two dimensions of the medium, in fact, reflect a third. The various perspectives are taught in art schools and here too, the history of their invention is rich in teaching. Our eye of the 21st-century viewer is not that of the viewer of the “Very Rich Hours of the Duke of Berry”, without other forms of trial, without any analysis we “see” in a painted representation volume and depth. Unconscious heirs of the conventions and codes of Western pictorial representation, we have integrated them to such an extent that we no longer “see” them and that it takes an effort to analyze the works to give them to see.

Unconsciously, we give a third dimension to realistic representations. In the immediacy of a look we “see” objects close and others more distant when there are no objects on the surface of the canvas. We also admit, among other things, that a character partially hidden by another “exists” in its entirety. In fact, our culture has created routines that connect the eye to intelligence by bracketing, rendering unconscious, perceptual mechanisms, artifices of the painter and the procedures of cognition. In this meaning, we can argue that our western culture, in this case, has changed our perception of works. To be convinced, you only have to look at works belonging to other cultures. Our ignorance of the codes of representation changes our view of these works. Other artifices reinforce the first; representation of shadows, choice of colours, etc. In fact, it is the sum of the artifices that create the illusion. 

A question that is central to the thinking on the trompe l’oeil, namely how to explain the durability of the trompe l’oeil? The answer is certainly simpler than the question! Pleasure, simply, pleasure. That of being deceived.

It is a pleasure of the same nature that we take when we see a magic trick. We know that the magic does not exist and that the magician is a maker of illusions. We know that the pretty, strong accorte lady who distracted us from the look was not cut in half, that it is an illusion. 

If the illusion works, it is because we do not understand how it works. The proof is that if we know the secrets of a trick, the illusion no longer exists. The illusion is the fruit of our ignorance! I think then that there is in the pleasure of illusion, the pleasure of mystery. 

Applied to the trompe l’oeil in painting, the psychological functioning is the same. Our gaze sees what he sees, but our intelligence “sees” another. Our eye has not been deceived; it is our intelligence that has been deceived because of the famous artifices. 

In retrospect, in the realization of having been deceived lies the taste of mystery. All in all, the viewer confesses that his intelligence was deceived, but he does not understand how he was deceived. This misunderstanding verges on the shores of magical thought. The pleasure I feel comes from this vertigo. So, when I applaud the magician who succeeded his trick, I “congratulate” him for “having me deceived”, I applaud his mastery of the artifices.

I think the same is true of painting. I like to rub shoulders with the mystery of my deluded senses.

Written by:

Richard Tassart in another life was a teacher. First, professor of letters and inspector of national education for almost 3 decades. It is in this context that he trained and advised the professors of the City of Paris in Fine Arts. In 2013, considering that street art had little attention in the media as contemporary painting, he created a blog in which he applied to urban art the analytical grids previously used by scholarly critics. This first blog, “Between Lines, Between Words,” gave birth to two blogs entirely dedicated to street art: and Entre les Lignes.  Richard Tassart is also the author of exhibition catalogues, biographies of painters and web designer for street artists. Co-founder with Itvan Kébadian of the association Nxptune, an association that promotes urban arts, he gives lectures in colleges and high schools. He is currently considered an expert in graffiti and street art.

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Welcome to Vitry Sur Seine!

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Ok, so it is not technically in Paris, but if you want a similar experience like walking around Wynwood Walls, it is well worth your way. 

The truth is Paris in an old city and it does not have many large walls that can be painted (excluding the 13th arr), and even when there is an available place, graffiti is still not entirely accepted here. For this reason, the majority of artworks are rather tiny and hidden, mostly made of paper, with some neighbourhoods – like Belleville, Montmartre, le Marais or 13th arrondissement being the most popular destinations. But if you prefer big and colourful walls and beautiful graffiti pieces, come along with us and leave the city for just a few hours! 

RER C or Bus 180, will take you to the heart of Street Art Capital of France. And I am not kidding!

The area has been one of the biggest suburbs of Paris, with almost 30% of the population being born outside Metropolitan France. 

Since the early 2000s, Vitry-sur-Seine operated a cultural policy of bringing art to all. This is why, it currently has more than 100 public sculptures and a great contemporary art museum Musée d’Art Contemporain du Val-de-Marne, in short, MAC VAL.

Graffiti culture was popularized here in the late 90s simultaneously with the rise of the local hip hop group named 113. In 2009 artist C215, who at this point was already introduced to the international arena by Banksy himself, moves to Vitry to reunite with his daughter. It is thanks to him that the place truly flourished with art! He managed to not only decorate the streets by himself, but he took over the role of curator, inviting muralists from all over the world. 

Currently, it is mostly Vitry’n’urbain organisation, proposing graffiti-jams and workshops to the local community, including kids, which makes Vitry-sur-Seine one of the few places in Paris region with an authentic street art spirit. 

But enough writing about it, book a tour with us, and we will be happy to show and tell you more!

Written by:

Kasia Klon foundress of Street Art Tour Paris; artist (MFA in painting and printmaking) and a licensed tour guide.

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Best urban art shows in March

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The month of March is a great opportunity to not only see the great art in the streets of Paris, but also to visit different shows and exhibitions, and maybe even invest in your little art collection?

We have selected the top 7 current exhibitions of urban art in Paris, and we hope you’ll love it!

1° « Birdland » Parvati’s first solo show 

In-flight with Parvati 

Milan Kundera depicted people with dog heads in his novel. Parvatin decided to turn them into bird heads. The artist opens up the door of the birdcage. She offers us a festival of feathers and colours, whispers to our eye some unknown yet familiar melodies. It puts into perspective our spiritual desire and our contemporary condition, reduced to that of consumers. An exhibition that elevates the soul and the state of mind, a lesson in humanity.

Le Lavomatik Arts-Urbains
Open: Monday – Saturday 12am – 7pm
Tel.: 01 45 83 69 92
Address : 20 Boulevard du Général Jean-Simon,
M° Bibliothèque

Until March 13th – Free entrance

2° « Beyond Reality » a collective exhibition of muralists & urban artists 


A powerful exhibition that mixes established artists and new talents, with the level of artistic standards to which we are accustomed by this gallery. A special recommendation for Eric Lacan, Miss Van, Ratur, Andrew Hem, Philippe Hérard but also the amazing Axel Void or Sckaro, Gleo the Colombian muralist, and Jessica Hartley (Rouge)

Galerie Openspace 
Open: Tuesday-Saturday 14pm – 7pm 
Tel.: 09 80 66 63 94
Address: 11 Boulevard Richard-Lenoir, M° Oberkampf

Until March 21st – Free entrance

Photo credit: @gallerieitinerance

« Playtime » Seth Globepainter

Painting and prints

Seth opens to us the secret door to his inner-child-world. Made out of toys, old pictures from our grandparents, and the innocence of childhood. An invitation to the inner journey to allow us to realize how rich we are in this life. A universe that the artist nurtures with his favorite books. Seth is a very active muralist with beautiful walls all over the world. We admire his work each time we do our famous Mural XXL tour in 13th arrondissement.

Galerie Itinerrance 
Open: Tueday – Saturday / 12am – 7pm 
Tel.: 01 44 06 45 39
Address: 24 bis Boulevard du General Jean Simon, M° Bibliothèque François Mitterand

Until April 11th – Free entrance

Photo credit: @BT de Phocas
Photo credit: @ Frédéric Steimer

« Lignées » an immersive experience by Romain Froquet

Immersive installations

Romain Froquet presents an exhibition where he keeps exploring the line, through monumental installations and various artistic proposals. They have all been done in situ and it is an amazing experience to visit them. A tribute to the Line in every shape, whether it would be roads or branches. We can admire work of Romain outside the exhibition as well – at Mur Carré de Baudoin during our street art tour in Belleville

Pavillon Carré de Baudoin 
Open: Tuesday – Saturday / 11am-6pm
Tel.: 01 58 53 55 40
Address: 121 rue de Ménilmontant, M° Gambetta

Until April the 25th 


Collective exhibition

Celebrating 500th anniversary of world best-known genius: Leonardo da Vinci, Flucturat invited 20 artists to get inspired by his masterpieces. Come to see urban art versions of Mona Lisa, and other memorable oeuvres by ANDREA RAVO MATTONI, BLUB, BOM.K, CLET, FAITH 47, JULIO AYANA CABANDING, LEK & SOWAT, LOGAN HICKS, MADAME, NICK WALKER, OKUDA, OZMO, PANG, SPEEDY GRAPHITO, SWOON, SYLVAIN RISTORI, VLP, YZ, ZEVS and 13 BIS.

Connecting art history with street art is a particular interest for us, this is why twice a month we organize our original guided tour in the Louvre: From Louvre to Street Art. Mixed it with this expo, it would make a wonderful combo. 

Open: Sunday-Saturday / 12pm-12am 
Tel.: 07 67 02 44 37
Address: 2 port du Gros Caillou, M° Invalides

Until April 19th

Photo credit: AVC Collective
@Rhea One

« Street Art at the hospital #2 le Safari»

The AVC Collectif invites us to a group exhibition of several stars among the artists of the Parisian and French scene such as Creyone Centrentedeux, REZINE, Barny Art, Poasson, Dire, Mosko, Eyone Tpk, Tarek Benaoum. An opportunity to discover main artists of graffiti and street art. An extraordinary site of the exhibition and some of the best artists gathered in one spot.

Institut Mutualiste Montsouris
Always opened
Tel.: 01 56 61 62 63
Address: 42 boulevard Jourdan, M° Porte d’Orléans

Until April 1st – Free entrance

« Sans Artifices » all women show

Collective exhibition 

The second exhibition at a new urban art gallery WAWI. For the occasion of upcoming international women day, 14 female artists were invited to participate: Stoul – Kaldea – Carole B – Ami Imaginaire – Marquise – Anna Conda – Pauline Salvan – Hydrane – Lapin Mutant – Sandie Carol – Socrate – Kristx – Diane D2 – Lulu et Louise. On the day of the opening live performance and cocktails are planned.

Galerie WAWI
Open: Mon, Sat 12–7PM Tue Closed Wed-Fri, Sun 2–7PM

Tel.: 06 35 10 27 88

Address : 49 rue Albert Thomas, M° Jacques Bonsergent

From March 6thuntil March 29th – Free entrance

Article written by:

Sigismond Cassidanius, polymorphic artist. He makes stencils and belongs to a group of collagists. He also writes press releases about other street-artists for their exhibitions and he animates a group on Facebook.His passion for street-art movement grew since the 90’s when, together with his friends, he created the association JONAS. They have been involved in squatting the former Lycée Diderot (Pole-Pi) in 1995 until 1999 and organized festivals of urban arts in Montmartre. After his bachelor in history of Paris he oriented himself to the working class anthropology and the urban economy. He has been working for 20 years for the city of Paris as a pedagogical responsible. Today he shares his passion for urban artistry through guiding and his support of the Collective 3 Couronnes in Belleville.

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