Last fall I was having lunch in the Latin Quarter when a girl walked into the café with a bucket, a long-handled paint roller, and a shopping bag that was filled with large, folded up pieces of paper.
I was curious, so when I saw her in the bathroom filling the bucket with water, I struck up a conversation.
I found out that her name is Konny Steding, and she is a graffiti artist from Berlin. She was using the café bathroom to mix glue to adhere her art to the sides of buildings. She had just finished posting her artwork at the corner of rue de Seine and rue de Buci, and was getting ready for her next stop. I asked if I could tag along.
I walked with her to the intersection of rue Mazarine and rue Jacques Callot, where there was a “wall of fame” of graffiti artists. On top was Andre the Giant, the iconic work of American artist, Shepard Fairey.
The mosaic character of artist, Space Invader, was on the corner of the building, as it is on hundreds of Paris buildings.
The thought bubble, “Things Got Out of Control” was one of Konny’s…but she was here to replace it.
As she dipped her paint roller into her bucket of glue, she asked that I not photograph her face…graffiti artists prefer to remain anonymous. In fact, renowned British graffiti artist, Banksy, has never been seen.
She prepared her surface by covering an area of the wall with glue.
Taking one of the large pieces of paper out of her shopping bag, she unfolded it to reveal the striking portrait she had painted, just like the one she had put up in rue de Buci. Hooking it on top of her roller to lift up to the wall, she began the process of covering the outside surface of the portrait with glue. It’s like a giant decoupage project.
In many cities, graffiti must be done furtively, under the cover of night. In Paris, in the middle of the day, passers-by don’t even seem to notice Konny. That’s why she likes it here.
The artwork is up, but there’s not enough glue to cover it.
No problem…Konny takes off back to the café with her bucket to mix up some more.
It’s four months later, I’m back in Paris, and just came upon this new Konny work, covering the one she’d posted in the fall on the corner of rue de Seine and rue de Buci. I noticed that her signature is much more prominent, and she’s added her last name…perhaps an indication of her increasing celebrity?
As with many graffiti artists, Konny is making her way into the mainstream contemporary art world. Her striking work has recently been shown in Paris at the Moretti-Moretti gallery in the Latin Quarter. The prices for her work ranged from $200 to $25,000.
These days, it’s not unusual for an artist’s work to start out on the walls of the streets and end up on a wall in a gallery…
…and I knew her when.