Monday, 5 November 2012

'our' street sign genius

There are many of us, in Florence and the wider region of
Tuscany, long since familiar with the quick-witted activity of
Brittany-born visual artist Clet Abraham who affixes his
smart, irreverent stickers to the plethora of city signposts
while mantaining their readability which started off altering
the white rectangle in the 'no entry' sign, a road sign that 
seems to particularly unleash his cheeky creativity.

Clet isn't strictly a street artist yet a gifted painter and
sculptor but he felt the need of an artistic expression
developed in daily life focusing on urban interventions:
graduated from the Ecole of Beaux-Arts in Rennes, France,
moved to Rome where he became a skilled woodworker
slogging away as a restorer of antique furniture and stairs
builder and relocated to Florence in 2005 where he lives
in San Niccolò district (he came to put a wooden nose to 
the neighborhood's old tower, but that's another story).

He's able to draw the attention of passers by providing a
spellbinding new level of meaning to common inner-city
signs: somebody hailed him as our own Banksy yet I dare
say he can be more suitably compared to Chicago artist
Dan Witz who also makes pictorial interventions on city
signs yet Clet's approach is more ironic and stylized.

”My street sign work stem from a reflection upon our
'common visual space'. The omnipresence of street signs
can verge on the absurd. The message is very poor
(sometimes I feel like I'm being treated like an idiot by
them) and yet they have a highly invasive aesthetic.
As a professional in the world of visual space, I felt 

called to intervene...” he declared in numerous interviews.
Our beautiful walking cities, Florence at first but also Prato,
Livorno, Bologna, Rome and even Palermo provided the
perfect setting for his street art attacks (usually done at
night) but his guerrilla stickering has been lately carried out 
in several European cities largely increasing his popularity.

Obviously I fell in love with Clet's stickers all of a sudden
while walking in Florence but it's true indeed that some
people find his interventions unnecessarily offensive or
consider his work as a sign of unbridled decay like graffiti
and tagging spray paint, not to mention those who marked
his pietà and his crucifixion (cannily applied to 'dead end'
as awfully blasphemous (it's old Catholic Italy after
. Luckily, all Clet's stickers are easily removable yet 
his artistry sets a stamp on our urban landscape, 
the hallmark of a sheer walking genius!

images compiled thanks to websites and blogs, including
'An American in Rome', 'Livorno Daily Photo', 'Teladoio Firenze',
'Deceptology', 'Turismo in Toscana', 'CCT-Seecity' and 'Tumblr'

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