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French artist born in 1976, 

Grégory Watin settled down in Arras around ten years ago.

It is there, in a studio that used to be a car repair shop, that

the French artist produced a body of works deeply rooted in

roaming, collage, spontaneous gestures and recycled raw

materials. Grégory Watin is one of those open-minded artists

with their eyes and ears always turned to other horizons,

characterised by less aestheticism and more authenticity.

His works take the form of paintings where Street Art meets

photography and digital printing, with no hierarchy of genres

or techniques. We met up with him.

Gregory Watin’s style is lively, made of collage and detail. It captures urbanity itself,

the pressing meticulousness of a modus operandi, the wanderings of its creator,

who we imagine pacing the streets like a scientist in a laboratory, in search of new

and necessary discoveries, the kind to document the world around him with a

unique point of view. This is the style of an artist who does not care about what is

beautiful, who finds “a lot of poetry in the unaesthetic”, just like the practitioners of

New York wildstyle, the origin of Urban Art. This is the style of a 47-year-old man

who travels to cities throughout the world, not as a tourist but as someone who sees

in every trip an opportunity to capture a new energy and a different atmosphere.

The style of Grégory Watin is that of an artist who prefers to immerse himself in

street exploration rather than in Urban Art encyclopaedias. He knows its history

inside out, but prefers to learn about those people who “tag on rubbish bins or

find their way to crazy, sometimes inaccessible places, in order to immortalise

their name”. And the French artist even shares a thought with us, in a time of

excessive gentrification: “I’ve come to believe that they are pushing me to always

go further,” he says, laughing. Grégory Watin knows only too well how certain

districts have evolved. In Bushwick, “there’s still an alternative, underground

economy, but everything is a little less authentic than it was even ten years ago

for sure.” Wynwood has “always been the temple of Street Art in Miami, and it’s

true that there’s a lot going on there. What I liked about it was its social diversity,

those places where tramps rubbed shoulders with artists. It’s less trashy today.”

If Grégory Watin has turned into a sociologist of American streets, it is simply

because he has spent a lot of time there, particularly in Miami, a city he is deeply

connected to. He continues: “It was the first international city to give me positive

feedback, to offer me attention that I couldn’t get anywhere else. And on top of that,

there’s Art Basel, which is huge. All the people likely to understand your paintings

are together in the same place, during the same week. Personall

I go there every

year, as an outsider, with the idea of seeing as many works

as possible and to find inspiration.” Next December, the

Frenchman will be presented in the official selection for the

first time – a victory, of course, and the reward for a decade

of work and research.

Grégory Watin owes the famous style he forged in his

150m2 studio in Arras in large part to his use of raw

materials such as wood, aluminium, and cardboard,

but above all Plexiglas, his trademark, which he uses

to add depth to his work. “Not only does it add a clean,

almost medical touch, but it also serves as a screen, as if

Plexiglas was opening a window onto the material used in

my paintings,” he explains, happy to talk about his practice

in detail. Ultimately, Plexiglas allows me to emphasise

some elements, hide others, and create an interaction

with the public, who often move closer to the works to

see what’s going on behind.”

Grégory Watin's paintings are brightly coloured and

meticulously executed, but also very skilled (the result of


lengthy photographic work, knowledge of digital printing,

etc.). They are both urban and contemporary. “I don’t want

to just be a graphic identity, which is unfortunately very

common in Urban Art,” he admits, with a rueful air. “If you

look at the works I showed in City Life, my last exhibition,

you can see that they are all very different, even if you

quickly realise that they come from the same artist.”

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