Friday, March 5, 2010

The Night of the Living Gouzous . . .

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If you read the post just a couple down from this one, you know by now that Gouzous are graffiti art figures which appear in odd places all around the island of la Réunion, produced by an artist signing his work as "Jace". Spotting them is a challenge for any visitor. Here are a few more examples of Gouzous to give you a better idea of their variety and versatility. Gouzous are simply super little creatures . . .
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The baby Gouzou at lower left here is barely visible, I almost missed it, although the beer bottle with a baby bottle drinking nipple on it caught my eye driving by right away. This is a take-off of the omni-present Bourbon Beer advertisements which are painted on walls all over the place on Reunion Island, "Bourbon" got transformed into "Biberon", which is French for baby bottle. Bourbon Beer, by the way, is a locally brewed Reunion Island beer, which is excelleng for quenching one's thirst there in the tropical heat . . .
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Guess this Gouzou witch cast a spell on us . . .
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Some Gouzous are evil, but are dreaming of becoming pure and good . . .
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Gouzous are world travellers . . .
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Some of the Gouzou scenes left me feeling like I'd just been listening to Bob Dylan's tune Ballad of a Thin Man, where there's the part that goes :
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"And you say "what does this mean?"
And he screams back, "You're a cow
Give me some milk or else go home"
Because something is happening here
But you don't know what it is, do you, Mr. Jones . . ."
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This last one may be about my favorite Gouzou spotted to date, I think he was on his way to a Grateful Dead concert . . .
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25 comments:

louciao said...

I do like the DeadHead gouzou. He's really quite...gouzougling.

louciao said...

Meant to say, good to see that after your dark night of the soul, you sent in the clowns. I'm just waiting for the elephants...with a great big shovel.

Jimmy Bastard said...

Interesting work, and often unappreciated by those who fail to see the artistry in their scrawl.

French Fancy said...

I love the witch. I also like the word 'gouzou' - it is very satisfying to say and to see.

Karin (an alien parisienne) said...

I like the one on the way to the GD, too. :)

What fun gouzous are! I checked out the prior post and then this one to get up-to-date about them. I love how vibrant they are, and your photos do them a great deal of justice! Very nice photo work.

Cool stuff, Owen!

Steve said...

The Gouzou witch appears to be wearing fishnets... surely that's just wrong!

The Pliers said...

Or an El Día de los Muertos celebration!

Those little androgynous figures are fantastic! I'm glad that you introduced me to them.

à tout à l'heure maintenant,

arlee bird said...

Interesting. Better that most of the graffiti in the US.

TechnoBabe said...

You really have to keep your eyes sharp to catch all of these. How fun!

Rain said...

I love the witchy gouzou! Kind of neat that this artist does this, makes people want to see what he's done next! :)

Virginia said...

Owen,
As you may know from my blogs, I'm not enamored with graffiti. I think these paintings are charming but only if the owner gave the "artist' permission to paint on his property. Otherwise, I think we must assume that it might be considered something far less than art. There are others that might disagree but I've seen my city, Paris and many others being defaced on a daily basis by people that consider the world as their canvas.
V

-K- said...

I don't know what kind of camera you're using but the colors are great, really vivid.

And they're also very interesting just to see. Not to much like that here.

Babzy said...

Thanks for the guitar link on you tube ;)
Gouzous are nice !

Nevine said...

Oh my God, I love that little witch! Truly, my favorite of all the Gouzou pix you've posted so far! I love that these Gouzous have no eyes... nothing to distract us from what they're doing, know what I mean?

Nevine

Deborah said...

These were great, Owen. I went back and read the other post about Gouzous - I guess there's a few graffitists around whose work is well-known, whimsically subversive and nearly global in scope, and it was pretty fun to read about this one.

Graffiti when it's tagging is crap to me - sorry - but this is totally different. What fun!

The Sagittarian said...

Maybe there will a global influx of gouzou? I will keep my eyes peeled for any way down here...

Alberto Oliver said...

Gouzous are great Owen, if only all of the graffiti were like that!!
Have a great Sunday my friend

magnoliaamber said...

:) they make me smile!

Owen said...

Hey Lynne, that's a great new word, the result no doubt of guzzling a google of Gouzous on your way to the Gouzou zoo here... and off he went, gouzougling into the distance... See, they can grow on you fairly quickly... and no need to wait for the elephants; after looking for the Gouzous, one can then start looking for Gouzou droppings ! Keep that shovel handy ! And it can always be used to smack the drunks with when they get too forward, a drunk and disorderly Gouzou can be a nuissance... !
:-)

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Hey Jimmy, well I guess seeing the artistry is definitely in the eye of the beholder for subject matter like these, no way everyone is going to appreciate them... Is anyone doing anything like this around Glasgow ?

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Dear FF, that's exactly it, saying "Gouzou" frequently is half the fun... I found myself gleefully calling out to the kids, "Keep an eye out for the Goooouuuuuuzzzoooouuuusss !" as we'd set out in the morning...
:-)

Owen said...

Hi Karin, super ! Glad you liked them... and if you Google "Gouzou" you can find lots more images of them on several sites, they really are diverse in their decoration of unwanted, neglected surfaces...

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Steve, I was wondering if anyone would notice that detail, but if anyone would, it would be you !
:-)
And there's something positively lascivious in the way she's perched on that broomstick... don't you think ?
:-)

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Chère Pliers, the "à toute à l'heure" of the future has now become "toute à l'heure quand on s'est vu" of the past, and it was wonderful, wonderful, just wonderful to bump into you and Mr. F at the airport this morning... am overjoyed that that was possible. And please thank Mr F again for the coffee ! à bientôt !

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Hello arlee bird, I agree with you, and not just limited to the US; the vast majority of graffiti is just junk, perfect eyesores... it is very rare that I see something which imho falls into a totally separate category, that of street art, really high quality art, which brings aesthetic pleasure and enlightenment and joy to the viewer, as opposed to disgust and anger at the visual pollution...

Owen said...

Hi TechnoB, absolutely, if you blink you can miss them, they appear sometimes as just a fleeting glimpse while going by, then one has to make an effort to pull off the road and go back to really look, and photograph...

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Hey Rain, definitely, Mr Jace, their creator, has been so creative with the different Gouzou disguises and settings and activities, that one really does wonder what is going to turn up around the next bend, and it helps one to look even more carefully at the visually crowded landscape...

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Hi Virginia,
I know it's a touchy subject, and not always an easy one. As I answered to Arlee above, I totally agree with you about the vast majority of so-called graffiti that we all see on a daily basis if we venture out nearly anywhere in the world these days. The horrid spray-painted scrawls of names of gang members or other souls seeking to leave a trace on a wall, any wall, with no intelligence showing, garrish colors, illegible and illiterate declarations of idiocy and lack of respect for property and visual beauty and certainly with no sense of humour at work; all such anti-graffiti should be white-washed over everywhere they appear, and the perpetrators suitably punished. I am totally against visual pollution and desecration of property by idiots with spray cans. I've even been heard on occasion saying, tongue in cheek of course, that a hunting season should be opened annually to try to reduce the pestilential plague of visual horrors produced so prolifically by these mindless criminals.

BUT, on the other hand, there is a tiny number of individuals out there who imho can be considered as highly talented artists, who conduct their work with eloquence and grace, and the end result is visually and artistically stimulating, creative, joyful, and contributes in a positive manner to the sum total of happiness on the planet. In Paris Jerome Mesnager is one such example. Bansky in the UK. A few days ago a kind fellow blogger (Loulou in India) reminded me about Keith Haring in New York back in the '80s. And now Jace in la Réunion. There may be a few others, real artists producing real art. Art that brings smiles of complicity and perplexity, but that leave one with the feeling that something good just happened, as opposed to the visual rape of the other sort.

Jace chooses his sites carefully, often on surfaces where the presence of his work is an enhancement, or on totally abandoned walls probably slated for destruction anyway. I did read that people have commissioned him to come and decorate certain locations. And his transformations of ugly advertising billboards are sheer genius, again imho.

So, yes, I agree with you that there is a plague in progress of hideously ugly criminal graffiti, accompanied by a small quantity of joyous and culturally valuable street art... does that make sense ?

Owen said...

Hi -K-, am using a Canon 40D, and am very happy with the depth and range of colors the digital captor inside it is capable of capturing. And am also quite pleased with the very simple Canon software that came with it, which allows one very quickly adjust sharpness, color saturation, and contrast, to bring the finished image most closely back to what one remembered seeing. Yet there is still no tool in existence comparable to the marvellous human eye...

And I guess in the Los Angeles area you probably get more of the less worthy kind of graffiti I was referring to in the above answer to Virginia; hopefully there are a few real artists out there ?

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Babzy, you are very welcome, the two song names seemed so close... and glad you like the Gouzous

Owen said...

Hey Nevine, I can imagine that you identified with that witchy one, I can picture you over a steaming kettle, working your magic and preparing your potions which produce your poetry... indeed, indeed... I'll keep an eye out for you passing in front of the next full moon...
:-)
And yes, definitely, the lack of facial features allows us to ascribe our own imaginary characterisations to them that much more easily... I've read some interviews with Jace where he is asked why the Gouzous have no face, the answer is just that, to allow imaginations to fill in the missing parts...

Owen said...

Hi Deborah ! Was just reading about your shoe situation... good luck ! Glad you enjoyed the Gouzous, and see above responses to Virginia and Arlee... tagging and street art are not the same thing in my book either...

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Hey Sister Saj !
I think Gouzous, like Monarch butterflies are capable of migrating around the world, so keep your eyes open for them ! When that baby Gouzou drinking the beer grows up he's going to want to come see you, I'm sure, and read all about Tuesday Tipples...
:-)

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Hi Alberto, indeed, indeed, we could do with alot less graffiti and a little more ART... many thanks...

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Hi Magnolia, if smiles are happening then all is worthwhile !
:-)

Nathalie said...

What fun!