Zevs (born 1977) is an anonymous French street artist, best known for his trademark "liquidation" technique. He was an early and influential graffiti artist and active as a tagger in Paris in the 1990s. He is named after a regional train, Zeus, that almost ran him over one day he was down in the metro. Working with other French artists in the second half of the 1990s like André and Invader, Zevs has been among the prominent figures who pioneered the French street art scene.
By the end of the 1990s he became known for his poetic drawings of shadows in Paris, shortly after the departure of Facundo Newbery from Paris. Later he 'bombed' models on the billboards between the eyes. Though his interventions have been very popular, it has been discussed in France whether it is vandalism or art.
In 2008 Zevs had his first major survey exhibition at the classical art museum the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen, Denmark. His work, including selections of all of his major series to that point, was displayed alongside masterpieces in the museum's permanent collections such as Édouard Manet's The Absinthe Drinker and Auguste Rodin's The Thinker.
In the early 2000s, Zevs embarked on a campaign of creating "Electric Shadows" on the streets of Paris. In this series, he created outlines of the shadows around common objects on the streets, such as streetlights, benches and entrances to the Paris Metro using spray paint. The original shadows would disappear under daylight, but the Electric Shadows remained as lasting reminders of the city's appearance at night.
In 2002 he cut out a model of a gigantic Lavazza-poster at Alexanderplatz in Berlin. Above the hole in the poster he wrote: "VISUAL KIDNAPPING – PAY NOW!" This intervention not only struck a chord with art lovers and people in Berlin, it has also inspired political activists. Stealing an image from a poster in Germany is now spoken of in the media as a visual kidnapping.
"Visual kidnapping is like entering an interactive game: If the brand on the billboard kidnaps the attention of the public with the purpose of consumer demand, I reverse the situation and I kidnap the model on the poster and I demand a ransom of 500,000€ from the brand. This sum represents the symbolic price of an advertising campaign for the brand."Interview with PingMag, 11 August 2008
Zevs' Visual Attacks similarly utilized existing advertisements as a means to literally attack commercialism. In these pieces, Zevs painted billboards of major fashion lines, including Gap, H&M and Yves Saint Laurent, so that the models look as if they have been shot.
Zevs has been doing what he calls 'proper graffiti' since the beginning of the 2000s, where he writes on dirty walls with a high pressure jet.
"In the logic of walls made dirty by graffiti, Zevs, the graffiti writer end author of painted shadows has executed proper graffiti. It is about graffiti painted by use of a high pressure jet on walls." Alain Milon in Prétentaine, 16/17, Winter 2003–04
Since the mid-2000s (decade) Zevs has become famous for his work with dripping brand logos. A beautiful illusion is created by the dripping paint from the logos, giving them an appearance of dissolving. His Liquidated Logos touch upon fashion, financial, and pop cultural brands to comment on their omnipresence and yet instability of their existence in today's world.
In 2009, Zevs has his first solo show, Liquidated Logos, in Asia at Hong Kong-based gallery Art Statements, documenting how ZEVS cleverly distorts the logos of big brands. He kickstarted the exhibition by daubbing a dripping, black Chanel logo on the outer wall above the window of a Giorgio Armani boutique in central Hong Kong, which led to his arrest and brief imprisonment for damages done to the building.
"Of course, there is a graffiti aesthetic to my art but I primarily play with the visual effect. I use the original colours and re-paint the logo with excess. By pouring paint over them, the logo dissolves in front of the viewer’s eyes, drawing attention to, and visually disturbing the recognisable and omnipresent trademark. By doing so, I try to investigate the logo’s visual power. It’s a simple gesture, just as in Aikido when you reverse the power and change the flow of energy."Interview with PingMag, 11 August 2008
In 2011 Zevs launched his first solo exhibition in New York, titled "Liquidated Version", in which he continued his artistic commentary on various corporations. Some of the subject matter included many well-known entities such as Coca-Cola, Louis Vuitton and several financial institutions including Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers and Goldman Sachs. Many of the works utilize Zevs' trademark liquidation technique, which seems to dissolve the various logos in front of viewers' eyes, creating an overall drippy aesthetic. In addition to these paintings, Zevs also used various other media in this show to present his agenda and create an environment. This exhibition took take place from 24 February – 7 April 2011 at De Buck Gallery. His next show at the gallery will open on May 15, 2013.
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- Interview at Paris-art.com 19 March 2004, retrieved 27 June 2007.
- Interview with PingMag 11 August 2008, retrieved 16 July 2009.
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- interview sound & video, pinkwork, 2009