Unlike some, whose reputation is tainted by prejudice, Gregos adds a touch of colour to city walls with his moulded face masks! Let’s take a look back at the story of the Parisian ‘passe-muraille’ or ‘man who walks through walls’.
When he started tagging suburban walls, Gregos – as his mates have always called him – could not have imagined the artistic journey on which he was about to embark. Influenced by an emerging hip-hop culture ‘made in USA’, he was driven by an adrenalin-fuelled desire to express himself. The end of secondary school and military service brought this urban prelude to a close. However, Gregos, who continued working with his hands, went on to the next episode of his ‘plastic arts’ adventure.
The saga continues in Greece at the end of the ’90s, when thanks to professional obligations, Gregos had the opportunity to discover the treasures of Antiquity. The rich detail and realism of the sculptures had a life-changing effect on him. When he returned to France, Gregos began experimenting with clay and learnt sculpting techniques. He solved the problem of reproducing his work using moulds and began testing his first hand imprints in 2000. While living abroad in Boston from 2004 to 2006, Gregos continued his visual experiments and extended his technical expertise to oil and acrylic painting. He returned with his first moulded face mask in his baggage – a representation of the timid, mischievous child sticking out his tongue for family photos!
Back in Paris, Gregos settled in the Pigalle area, where he appreciated the artistic emulation despite suffering some of the consequences, such as the late-night conversations between students from the nearby music school. Gregos prefers humour to shouting, using visual expression to take a stand. The first face, installed in 2006, was white with a simple signature on the cheek. A second face, installed a few weeks later, led to a third… He relished the rush of excitement brought on by these outings which had become a habit by the end of 2007. Little by little, Gregos became part of the street art scene, meeting and then teaming up with different artists in collage sessions and other events.
This urban artist, who works by himself at night, is always on the lookout for the ideal spot, an uncluttered wall or an unusual location where he can create an offbeat and surprising work of art. Amongst those charmed by ‘the face in the wall’ were some journalists and gallery owners who offered to exhibit his work in 2008.
Experience generates ideas and in 2009, Gregos not only added colour to his face masks but also began to use different formats. His own face became the ideal medium for sharing his ‘Moods’. For this self-taught artist, whose face masks are moulded using a variety of different techniques learnt over time, this artform is an opportunity to tell an extraordinary ‘autobio-GRAPHICAL’ tale.
Does this mark the end of his graffiti work? Not exactly. Gregos still answers the occasional invitation to rattle the aerosol can for large-scale works. Gregos’ face masks – the most personal medium in the current urban landscape – can be found in Bordeaux, La Rochelle, Chartres, Bourg en Bresse, Montpellier, Bayeux, Lyon, Lille, Royan, Nice, Perpignan, Prades, Saint Malo, Caen and even FrenchGuyana, as well as Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Rome, Berlin, Monaco, Malta, Athens, London, Geneva, Amsterdam, Bristol, Madrid.
But naturally it is in Paris that Gregos’ ‘Moods’ are most prolific, with nearly 900 mural face masks to date, and nearly 1500 around the world.
Pursuing his love of ‘the face in the wall’ experience, Gregos is unwavering in his search for new ways to add something extra to his work. For example, Gregos currently produces versions of his art that are smaller than a coin. What’s more, he uses new materials to develop his art work: transparent crystal, luminous chrome and even the sophistication of bronze. This forms a link between the legacy of traditional sculpting and modern techniques. Drawing inspiration from his surroundings, current events, life and the street, Gregos never tires of using his medium like a mirror for sharing emotions.
Written by Camille Berthelot Du Plessix
Tête au carré, Lavomatik Gallery, Paris
Commedia del street art, Joel Knafo Gallery, Paris
Faces et cie, 59 Rivoli Gallery, Paris
Délits de faciès, Ligne 13 Gallery, Paris
United colors of Gregos, Centre Culturel de la Merise, Trappes, France
Lavomatik Gallery, Paris
Joël Knafo Gallery, Paris
Urban Gallery, Paris
Kahn Gallery, Ars en Ré, France
Les Plumes Gallery , Beirut, Lebanon
Modus Gallery, Paris
Where the streets have no name, Artmonist, Paris
Museum of Immigration, Paris
Artsper, Palais de Tokyo, Paris
Singapore Art Fair, Singapore
Beirut Art Fair, Lebanon
Figure, Joel Knafo Gallery, Paris
Tondi, de la part des anges, Paris 18th Town Hall
De Alechinsky à Jonone, Joël Knafo Gallery, Paris
Magnolia Gallery, Geneva, Switzerland
Art urbain à Ré, Kahn Gallery, Ars en ré, France
Intérieur Extérieur, Joël Knafo Gallery, Paris
Art en 3D, Joël Knafo Gallery, Paris
Star Wars, la Bohême Gallery, Deauville, France
Tondi, de a part des anges, Musée du Vin et du Négoce, Bordeaux, France
Street art, l’art dans la rue, Centre Culturel François Villon, Enghien les Bains, France
Magnolia Gallery, Saint Denis, France
Athens Street Art Festival, Camp Gallery, Athens, Greece.
Street therapy, Frip Gallery, Paris
Wolf song night, Ligne 13 Gallery, Paris
Music on walls, Artkraft Gallery, Paris
Dirty Harry Vol I, Galerie 59 Gallery, Paris
Wolf song night, Belle Aire Gallery, Marseilles, France
Collages urbains, Cabinet Amateur Gallery, Paris
Du mur à la toile, Artkraft Gallery, Paris
New urban voices, Maximillian gallery, Hollywood, USA
Quartier du street art, Commanderie des Templiers de la Villedieu, Elancourt, France
Back to Black, 770 Gallery, Paris
Empreintes Urbaines, Palais d’Iéna, Paris
Des flowers et des hommes, Celal Gallery, Paris
GLAZ’ART, book launch:40 Street Artistes Au Carré
Street Love, YONO, Paris 4th
Cinémaniaque, Ligne 13 Gallery, Paris
Autoportraits et portraits de maîtres, Ligne 13 Gallery, Paris
La rue est vers l’art, Etienne de Causan Gallery, Paris
World Refugee Day, Médiathèque de Châtillon, France