Born in 1975, Jo Di Bona is a graffiti artist and painter from Seine-Saint-Denis. Defining himself as a “pop graffiti artist”, he will make his first artistic weapons on the walls of the Parisian suburbs before making a place on the front of the Graffiti scene. At the crossroads of Pop Art and Street Art, his work explores, on wall or canvas, the theme of the portrait through an iconic and very colorful style that combines tagging, collage and paper cutting.
At 13 years old Jo di Bona used aerosol paint for the first time. Until then, he was used to handling his father’s felt-tip pens, markers and other pencils. Through the spray can, he discovered a new means of expression that was “fast and explosive”. He did his first works of graffiti on roads and wastelands on the outskirts of his home town, getting a taste for the adrenaline that comes with vandalism. At the start of the 1990s he began to paint in his suburban town alongside Nestor & Lek , and together they formed the Team VF. Applying his blaze “Anoze” on walls and trains, he tries, during these night escapades, several mediums. Feeling “limited to lettering”, he approached his art teacher, the painter Claudie Laks, who was able to open the field of creative possibilities. Following his advice, Jo started to become interested in new techniques and mediums. A trip to Amsterdam also allowed him to discover the originality of the local graffiti scene: Pone, Delta (Mess) or Gasp… Also feeding off his exchanges with his graffiti friends, the work of Bando, Orel, Nasty or Mode 2, and their numerous visits to museums – from which he will retain the work of Warhol, Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns or Rotella -, he starts experimenting with collage and the mixture of techniques to finally develop a whole new genre that he will later call “POP GRAFFITI”. Combining Street Art techniques (painting, stenciling and aerosol) with paper collage and cutting, he invents a very colorful style of urban influence that he imbues with artistic references and popular imagery. Manifesting his interest in Pop Art and New Realism, his creative process is divided into several stages: first, the artist imagines a traditional graffiti that he realizes with spray paint and that he sometimes reworks with stencil, marker or roller. Integrating tag, lettering and pop-art codes, he then covers the whole with several layers of paper printed from photographs or old posters. A “sampling” of images that he finally tears and lacerates in certain places to reveal the different layers of the collage as well as a part of his graffiti. In a vibrant, free and extensive chromatic range, a unique visual patchwork is revealed, featuring iconic and hypnotic faces. Exhibitions, mural projects and live performances then follow one another on both sides of France and, in 2014, the artist conquers Shanghai, performing at the Minsheng Art Museum as part of the Jue Festival. Back in Paris, he multiplies collaborations and finishes the year in beauty by winning the 1st Prize of Graffiti at the EDF Foundation. Quickly propelled to the forefront of the artistic scene, he will exhibit, over the next two years, at the Musée Passager in Alfortville, at the Centre René Goscinny or in Brussels, at the Espace Vanderborght. He will also speak live at the Immigration Museum and in the streets of Cherbourg, at the Loures Arte Publica in Lisbon and at the Robert Ballanger hospital in Aulnay-sous-Bois, for the launch of the Pièces Jaunes operation. Finally, he will create several “tribute walls” including his “Charlie” wall at Les Frigos and his ephemeral fresco at Place de la République in support of Syrian refugees, as part of a collaboration with Première Urgence Internationale. After having made the front page of the cult magazine Paris Tonkar and joined on ARTSPER the 2016 ranking of the “10 artists to follow absolutely”, he will be consecrated in the NY TIMES for his “tribute wall” in Petit Cambodge and will appear on the JT of France 2 in a report on Street Art. In January 2017, his work was exhibited in New York at the headquarters of the United Nations as part of their participation for the Street Art for Mankind project. Following this Jo was more productive than ever and produced and performed more than 15 mural paintings and live performances in scarcely 6 months (in galleries but also the Saint Maur Museum, the Scribe Hotel, the Cité des Sciences, the Urban Art Fair, the Gobelins School and even the House of Arts and Métiers at the City University.)
Since his “vandal era”, the artist has continued to refine his technique and style to the benefit of an iconic work that he wishes “accessible and popular”. From festivals to galleries, on walls or on canvas, he colors his supports with “current graffiti, which can appeal to all ages and speak to all audiences. Interested in the work of street artists Pure Evil, Dain and Charlie Anderson, he explores the portrait through a work of composition based on color, relief and movement. Drawing inspiration for his subjects from popular imagery, he most often turns to iconic faces well known to the general public: American film stars (Grace Kelly, Steve McQueen…), great historical figures (Mandela, Angela Davis…) and icons of entertainment, art or pop culture (Bowe, Gainsbourg, Mona Lisa or Yoda…). His preference is also for “incandescent beauties”, female figures or the faces of anonymous children with fierce eyes. Sometimes working on the heads of wild animals, he always creates works that are full of color and life. By his games of tearing – or unveiling – the artist gives thickness and movement to his creations. Sometimes seeming to step out of the frame, his characters impose themselves on the viewer in a whirlwind of details. And with their looks, they catch him and hold his attention. In addition, Jo often chooses her subjects according to the current events in order to show her support or her emotions towards certain events. Wanting to respect the support, the artist thinks his works according to their sensible integration in the urban space. For him, “it is more the wall, the place and the context that must influence and make the painting vibrate”. Thus, when one of his projects is not intended to be realized on canvas, the most important thing for him becomes the “synergy between the urban environment and the graffiti”.
Good to know :
The artists are open to the creation of original works on order so do not hesitate to contact us for any project.
Coming soon :
AAF London Hampstead
From 10th to 14th May 2023