The anonymous French graffiti artist known as “Kidult” is gaining notoriety at a rapid pace. By filling up fire extinguishers with paint and dousing luxury brand store fronts with his tag, Kidult is on a mission to once again “Illegalize Graffiti.” While many are considering his tags a compelling statement, a large number of critics have already summarized his work as nothing more than vandalism. Wherever you personally land on this spectrum, Kidult is making sure of one thing: he will be heard.
Before heading into any further discussion, I think it’s best to further explore the reasoning behind Kidult’s form of tagging. As a person who is genuinely passionate about the culture of graffiti and street, he is quite fed up to say the least. He’s frustrated this culture has become commercialized to the point where luxury brands feel comfortable incorporating this form of art into their own campaigns. The biggest qualm that Kidult has, however, is that these people are selling this street art culture for capitol purposes, without having an inkling of an idea of what that very culture actually represents. This is undoubtably exemplified by this commercial for a new fragrance bearing the title “Flower Tag” by Kenzo:
Obviously angered and disillusioned by this video clip, Kidult decided to contribute to Kenzo’s new found love for his culture. “If they really like graffiti, then I just give them what they want,” says the distorted voice of the French artist in his “Illegalize Graffiti” short. “I’m just simply saying ‘hello’ to them.” We can see here how Kidult extends this greeting to Kenzo:
Kidult has swiftly bestowed this form of “hello” to plenty of other brands he feels have misused graffiti. These include Colette, Agnés b., JC/DC, YSL, and Supreme. Another recent recipient of his tag was an exterior wall of the MOCA Street Art Exhibition in Los Angeles. By painting over the work of Mr. Brainwash (a “street artist” who somewhat forced his career into motion as seen in the film “Exit Through the Gift Shop”), Kidult is attempting to make a statement he’s obviously passionate about. I feel this is captured best when he says that“what [he] did with these extinguisher tags was just a reminder that graffiti can be found wherever the graffiti artist would like it to be found.”
Whether you feel the work of Kidult is legitimate “street art” or nothing more than ugly vandalism, this masked Frenchman seems set on his mission to take back graffiti. Personally, I feel that his work lands in a unique area. It’s a bit hard to claim that what he’s doing on these buildings looks great visually, which is what many people seem to have problems with. Of course that’s not the point though – the point is a drastic gesture pleading commercialism to stay away from this street-bred culture. “It’ll take a lot of work to wake this world out of a coma,” says Kidult, “so stay awake. Graffiti is not dead.”
The “Illegalize Graffiti” short may be viewed below: