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Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
Christian Guémy, also known as C215, is a Parisian street artist known for his intensely emotive stencil portraits. C215 began painting six years ago, and has since brought his work all over the world, from New Dehli to Istanbul. His expansive career in public art has made him renowned in more than just the usual circles of stencil-based art fans and collectors.
With two masters in history and art, C215 is well-versed in how art impacts society. By integrating layers of found objects in the backgrounds, and focusing on portraits of everyday people, C215 captures snapshots of the streets he walks and the lives that inhabit them. Simple detailing lends an honest aesthetic to the always changing facial expressions in C215’s portraits, almost all of which present us with the feeling of looking beyond mere visage into each person’s true character. The concept of revealing the things most often kept unseen is one that reoccurs throughout the works, often drawing attention to the harsh sides of poverty.
This study of hidden elements also shapes the body of work presented in “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,” investigating the motives of Cigarette ads and the iconology of smoking. With a minimum of pieces to be included in the show, most of the artists stencils focus on old ads, images of friends smoking, the hands of smokers, and a few portraits of smoking artists (Painters George Braque and David Hockney, street artist Indigo, and photographers Jeremy Gibbs and Jon Cartwright). The works will be on recycled objects including cardboard, vintage advertising papers, and antique burned canvases. Through a look at the humor and irony in tobacco ad campaigns of the past, C215 asks us to question how modern advertising sells the idea and image of smoking to us now. The works highlight the perversion of smokers’ imagery, the manipulations of marketing and how thoroughly advertising can shape the public mind.