Sunday, 3 November 2013

In focus: French graffiti artist Miss Van

Miss Van originally moved from canvas to the walls of her home town of Toulouse to "boycott" the conventional art world, but she is increasingly defining just that. One of the most famous graffiti artists worldwide, Vanessa Bensimon, known as Miss Van, has divided opinion with her army of doe-eyed femme fatale characters.

Like Banksy and Os Gemeos before her, she has created a cluster of characters which riff on the central theme, in her case sexualised, buxom bodies. Feminists have criticised Van's work, originally honed in partnership with Mademoiselle Kat before the former relocated to Barcelona, and its depiction of women. However, this sentiment is in stark contrast to Bensimon's feelings in creating the work. 

"Painting on walls allows me to keep my freedom; as it is illegal, there is no censorship. It is also a challenge, since each time I paint on a wall there is the risk of seeing my work erased," she explains on her website. "Since I like moving around and meeting people, so I prefer painting in the street. It also enables me to make my art accessible to a larger public audience."

This audience has been enhanced by collaborative shows with the likes of Shepard Fairey, Banksy and Mike Giant. Her location in Barcelona allows her fresh work to complement the city's stunning modernist style - crafted in part by Antoni Gaudí. 

Personally, I feel Miss Van is one of the most prolific and innovative contemporary graf artists and in creating a motif of feminine characters she has driven equality in an often male dominated graf scene. 

All images courtesy of Miss Van. See her in action here.

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