In his newest project, French artist David Mesguich struggles to reconcile his past as a graffiti writer with his current work as a contemporary artist. Indeed, as more and more graffiti and street artists gain recognition in the mainstream contemporary art world, there is a balance between the past and present that is not always easy to maintain.
For Pressure 1.2, Mesguich finds himself back in the train yard, painting trains at night under the name User 79 and creating one of his signature geometric sculptures by day. Teetering on the line of “vandal” and artist, the 13-foot monumental sculpture represents his evolving career in the art world. “I wanted to confront my past practice of vandal to my work as a contemporary artist while questioning the concept of control of beings and spaces,” he tells My Modern Met. After two weeks of work, Mesguich left his sculpture in the train yard, facing the train he’d recently painted.
Here, the woman rests, palm out toward the train, as though beckoning toward the past. Interestingly, a short time later, this piece was destroyed by a storm, perhaps symbolically pointing to a higher meaning. If nothing else, it reminds us that this art form is ephemeral. But to immortalize it all, Mesguich also shot an all-encompassing video that shows both sides of his practice. Intercut with footage of riots in Nantes, which took place during the creation of the project, it encapsulates the environment the artist thrives in, while continuing to make a name for himself both on the street and in the gallery.