Too bad for the real ones who had no choice but spending nights walking in the streets and through bridges in order to find their own style. Because today, if the rookies entering the game managed to reach a great level earlier in life, it is mostly due to the work achieved in the past by references such as the artist BRUSK. Even if it is not an easy task to present a paternalist point of view to free thinkers all the way to rebel such as our readers, the choice has been made to pick up a strong figure to properly illustrate the way things go in the world of street art. BRUSK’s work has been based on drips and rips for 20 years. From the steep slopes of La Croix Rousse in Lyon to the Berlin art galleries, any type of geo- metric surface seems to be suitable to keep alive the authentic work BRUSK has started years ago. Let’s take a look back on a particular artistic movement, but also on pieces of life and get to know a man who has been doing nothing but brutalizing street-art and still pays attention to respect the demands and the meanings required by the fundamental symbols of the discipline.
Jacker / We got to know that you initially discovered graffiti and Hip-Hop back in 1991, can you tell us a bit more about that ?
BRUSK / I met different people in the 1990’s, particularly ORGA (HPC), DUB, who are the people I co-founded the PHC crew with. Concerning my personal skills, I already knew how to draw and several people opened my eyes to the true essence of tags & graffiti back then. Besides from that, when the AUTHENTIK album signed by NTM came out in 1991, I discovered a whole new thing, a new way of express myself that actually suited my expectations. And then, I also got to meet OSH in Lyon and his work really dived me into graffiti, especially because he already had his own particu- lar signature, which helped me to find what I really wanted to do.
J / Your very first piece of work was a masterpiece as you wrote « nik lé keufs » (fuck the cops) on the mailbox of your neighboors, can you describe it ?
B / I initially drew a lot before getting into graffiti. The first few times I left my place was to do tags ... marker-pens atmosphere. Then, concerning my first piece of work, I got it done with DUB next to some railways. We had to hide ourselves under a bridge in the complete darkness, all in under pressure, ‘cause we could get busted ... it is a very intense thing to feel if you are still a teenager : you start sweating after 3 minutes, it is basically your first time, you know it is gonna get messy and even if no one would notice it, that does not matter, what matters is to simply do the work, live that particular instant! It got such a strong symbolic meaning to me that I can still feel it deep inside of me... but when I think about what I actually drew on that wall : it was clearly shitty.
J / The streets are your playground, after them come the galleries. Can you tell us your strongest memory of your graffiti night-sessions ?
B / I went on a night-out with OZEY (between 1995 and 2000). We were on the highway on the top of a bridge of 12 – 13 meters high, working on a small wall. My buddy, while finishing his piece of work, started to walk one step back to take an overview on his work but we actually had not enough space to do so ... As I saw him falling I hold him back and put him against the safety grids and “saved his life”. No doubt that this particular moment meant a lot to both of us and it’s still there deep inside us...
J / Your work is used in many ways (album covers, exhibitions, design of objects, etc.), what is the driving force pushing your work in all these directions ?
B / Big question ! First of all, there are all the people I’ve met through the years, people actually having various backgrounds more or less related to my work. I had a desire to experiment things with nice people deserving a creative interest. I am a polyvalent person, which is essential to my artistic balance. Between 1997 and 2000 I studied at the « Beaux-Arts » in Saint-Etienne for a couple of years which gave me the time and opportunity to try different techniques. Besides that, it has been 15 years being lucky enough to work in various places and consequently things I did in one place where transposable and helped to try lots of other different things. I have always liked working with multiple supports at the same time and try new things ... I get curious about it ... The question is to reshape your work, find possibilities to use unusual supports whilst keeping the same style. Concerning the use of letters, I have always loved working the letter in itself, bringing it to life and making it speak. Like in rap music, it’s the flow that matters, the combination of the letters, the arrangement of the full and empty spaces as well as the volume. It’s the composition of these elements that make it an art in itself. My curiosity has always pushed me to question the use of my letters.
J / Regarding the change in the artistic area since you started 20 years ago until the popular street-art : how did you handle that switch ?
B / It is true that within 20 years, everything totally changed as the basics are no longer the same and also the point of doing street art is now different. We are facing a whole new area where the content is the main concern. My people and I, got into graffiti through the Hip-Hop scene and that was the particular universe that we loved, that managed to push us up while making us think we could fly. Regarding the current scene in the world of graffiti : unfortunately that fresh spirit is dead. It went in all kind of directions among which about Hip-Hop, I personally wasn’t that much into it. Everything changed and evolved, in graffiti as well as everywhere else. In fact, today, it’s more about melting the different universes that are permanently changing and help changing the whole thing. Today, there are plenty of artists who got into graffiti or started to paint on the walls without really feeling comfortable with Hip-Hop and suffering from the lack of an «authentic» way of working... There is no doubt that nowadays there is a «trendy» thing about street art. The current generation has grown up seeing graffiti everyday, and that was not the case for my generation. When I was 15 to 20 years old, the walls were almost completely clean. It was necessary to struggle and really look for information before finding anything, the only specialized magazine back then was INTOX. There wasn’t anything else, it was necessary to develop a particular way of being... we did not have any Internet that could had helped us being aware of what was going on... it was really tough, it felt like something you deserve once you reach it: it would take a lot to make it happen! In 2015 !? Everything has become too easy ! Using the Internet, people come out from nowhere, they gather three different styles, make it one single, they get three big walls, they make three photos and ... that’s it ! Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Flickr...etc... Buzz ! How to follow the street-art wave ? We definitely not have anything in common.
J / What are the places or the projects you enjoyed the most ?
B / The most important place to me is New York where I went twice: once on my own and the second time with my crew KMF. Both times I went there, painting on the walls of this city was a strong feeling. NYC is all about the true essence of graffiti and it is true that it was not a common-thing to meet the pioneers who did show some respect about my work as much as I show about theirs and with whom I have fond memories. It is quite crazy to get to spray over there, very strong feeling ... It was magic and I was actually living it all with widely opened eyes.
J / You certainly have resolutions for the new year but what do you plan for the coming years, in terms of solo-projects, with DMV or at home ?
B / Regarding the upcoming years, I want to develop my workshop as I love to let my spontaneous side develop any kind of idea : both on paper and volume. My priority for now is to work on big walls because I miss that a lot. With the DMV people, nothing in particular is officially planed yet in terms of proper collective project, but it happens quite often that three or four of us meet up on different projects. It’s sometimes really complicated to gather the all 9 of us on a regular basis considering that we all live far from each other and we are also busy with our family lives... besides from creating of course.