3181. Cheltenham 2019 (34)

This is another outstanding piece from last year’s Cheltenham Paint Festival that I never got to see in its finished state until I visited for this year’s festival. It is a superb Hamlet work by French artist Zabou that I actually saw her working on last year, but haven’t been able to find my work in progress photographs.

Zabou, Paint Festival 2019, Cheltenham, September 2020
Zabou, Paint Festival 2019, Cheltenham, September 2020

Zabou is without doubt one of my favourite street artists. Her work is not only technically brilliant but her subjects and the emotional texture she conveys is quite remarkable. I think that this might be my favourite piece by Zabou, I am in love with it and cannot fault it.

Zabou, Paint Festival 2019, Cheltenham, September 2020
Zabou, Paint Festival 2019, Cheltenham, September 2020

The blue tones and flowers add some real interest, but it is the relationship between Hamlet (I am making that assumption) and Yorick’s skull that is so intriguing. ‘Alas poor Yorick, I knew him Horatio…’

2907. Shoreditch, London

I’m not entirely certain that this wonderful piece by Zabou is strictly speaking in Shoreditch, but it was certainly on the way on a very long walk I took back in November 2018. It is on Kingsland Road on the wall of the By the Bridge café beside the Regent’s Canal, I think the area is called Haggerston.

Zabou, Shoreditch, London, November 2018
Zabou, Shoreditch, London, November 2018

Zabou’s protrait pieces are rarely matched by anyone in both scale and quality, she really is a street artist at the top of her game, and finding her work is always such an exciting thrill. I think the piece was painted in April 2018 and features the model Yara Shahidi. Beautiful.

2882. Shoreditch, London

I have encountered Zabou’s work in London, Bristol (at Upfest) and in Cheltenham at last year’s paint festival, where I was lucky enough to meet her and have a quick chat, in which I basically gushed about her work and probably made a bit of a fool of myself. I seem to recall that I said I would send her some posts I had written about her work, but typical of my general uselesness I haven’t done it.

Zabou, Shoreditch, London, August 2016
Zabou, Shoreditch, London, August 2016

This is a fabulous piece in Soreditch of two angelic figures looking like they are going to get up to no good with spray cans at the ready. The piece has a kind of ’50s retro feel about it, maybe it is the hairstyles. If one took a look at it today, it might be easy to assume that the masked ladies were protecting themselves from the Coronovirus with their facemasks. It is interesting how things can be seen in different ways depending on the context or socio-political landscape.

1970. Shoreditch, London (22)

Wow, wow, wow. Fancy having an enormous portrait of Salvador Dali painted outside your premises. I mean, this is just amazing work from the wonderful Zabou. Everything about this piece is in my mind perfect… the subject, the monochrome face, the dazzling leopard spot design jacket, the melting watch. This is a masterful piece and Salvador himself would I’m sure be smiling down on Zabou.

Zabou, Shoreditch, London, November 2018
Zabou, Shoreditch, London, November 2018

For me, this is what it’s all about, what I do and why I do it. Wandering around the streets without any plan and chancing upon things I didn’t know were there. A voyage of discovery and pleasant surprises. Finding this was a highlight of my sauntering around Shoreditch last November.

1737. Upfest 2018 (48)

Unconscious bias is a curious beast, but it lurks in each of us in one form or another. One expression of it in me is the assumption that street artists are male unless they are not…if you see what I mean. I have made some terrible gender assumptions in the past with T-Rex, Skor85 to name just two, and so it was with Zabou. I have seen her work in London, but automatically thought she was a he. How glad I was to actually see Zabou at work during Upfest and to be able to write this post without falling in to the trap of gender assumption.

Zabou, Upfest, Bristol, July 2018
Zabou, Upfest, Bristol, July 2018

To their credit, the organisers of Upfest do not ask for the artist’s gender on the application forms for entry and so never quite know what the gender mix will be at the festival…this year it was about 35% female artists, which, in what we consider to be a male dominated arena, is very encouraging indeed.

Zabou, Upfest, Bristol, July 2018
Zabou, Upfest, Bristol, July 2018

This piece by Zabou, originally from France, but now operating out of London, is a stunning portrait beautifully executed, and it is really interesting to see from these pictures how the layers build up to give the final whole.

Zabou, Upfest, Bristol, July 2018
Zabou, Upfest, Bristol, July 2018

I love the little sprays of colour on the hand, fingers and face of the subject – it is these little details that bring works like this to life. I really love the portrait, and wish I had been able to find a little bit of time to speak to Zabou, but the festival is large and the days short. Maybe next time.