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Lek and Sowat: street art meets archeology

What happens when two artists who are passionate about photography, street art and archaeology start working together in Rome? That is simple. They study the history of art and the archaeological monuments situated in the capital, in order to transform them into street art. We are talking about the two French artists Lek and Sowat!

Lex and Sowat, Credits Maya Angelsen

Street Art: from France to Rome

Active as a duo since 2010, they belong to the underground scene of graffiti writers and they start working together facing the theme of Urbex or Exploration Urbaine as their main interest. This discipline was born in France in the 1980s and continues to fascinate numerous photographers from all over the world. The goal, in fact, is the exploration of the ruins of the modern city, with the eyes of an archaeologist in search of the ruins of a lost city. This research takes place in abandoned places such as homes, buildings, factories, or places that are inaccessible to people such as basements or drains.

From this common interest, the clandestine Mausolée project was born in 2012 in Paris, inside an abandoned shopping centre. This artistic residence project took place in collaboration with numerous graffiti writers and artists, mostly French, illegally occupying the space and invading it with writings, drawings and works of art. This collaboration will not only make them noticed by the director of the Palais de Tokyo, with whom they will carry out a project in the basement of the contemporary art museum but will see them winners in 2016 of the scholarship at the French Academy of Villa Medici. In this experience in Rome, they continue their research for Urbex by digging through the roots of the city to retrace its entire history.

Lek and Sowat at Villa Medici

At Villa Medici the two artists focus on the relationship between historical memory and modernity choosing street art as a common thread and starting from their personal style: in the case of Lek more abstract, while of Sowat more calligraphic. Together they create a completely unique style that ranges from Urban art to Land art, developed in the evocative spaces of Villa Medici.

Lek and Sowat carry out this operation by exploiting fragments of modern ruins of the ancient French Academy, in fact, they create metal structures, joined together in order to create sculptures, created using pieces of a destroyed wall at Villa Medici. Starting from these ruins, they also create a light projection along the entire facade of the building, combining a series of works in an enormous projection. The typographic motifs recall their past as writers but brought to the maximum abstraction thus animating the architecture.

Lek and Sowat, Ingres Studio at Villa Medici (2016), Rome, Credits Nicolas Gzeley

Eterno: Lek and Sowat at the Wunderkammern Gallery

Only a year passed, and in 2017 the two French artists exhibited their works, the result of studies and research carried out in Italy, at the Wunderkammern gallery. The gallery is invaded by metal sculptures inspired by those exhibited at Villa Medici and numerous canvases resulting from their research between abstract and calligraphic art.

The exhibition, entitled “Eterno“, pays homage to the capital by recreating a modern city made of modern fragments and “ruins”, assembled in the exhibition spaces, giving the impression of a non-place between ancient and modern.

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