Mr. Brainwash , born in Paris, became the famous street artist in Los Angeles.
Thierry Guetta (53), aka Mr. Brainwash was born in Paris and lives in Los Angeles since his teenage years. He became a street artist in the 2000s. He is 635th in the Artindex ranking of the Journal des Arts.
What are you working on right now?
At the end of March, it is question that I paint with four hands with the pope, whom I met a few months ago. I gave him an aerosol can with the word game "Pope Art", and he bought Mexican collector Carlos Slim one of my Einstein. I am about to celebrate my ten years of career soon. Finally, it is possible that one of my monumental sculptures "Life is beautiful" is installed in the heart of Santa Monica.
About this sentence, “Life is Beautiful” which follows you since your very first exhibition, in 2008. Is this a trademark?
A trademark, no. I evolve constantly. And I hope to live long enough to keep changing constantly. It is rather a state of mind, which I adopted as an adult. I decided to see the good side of things. And it has become a message of hope for some. Like these two newlyweds, one of my grandfathers would have convinced me to get married. That's what they wrote me anyway.
It is said to be prevalent in the United States to have “A Positive Attitude”. Is that why you stayed in Los Angeles, where you've lived for 30 years?
No. Paris is always in my heart. I even plan to have a workshop there one day. I landed here by chance. My dad got a work permit. We followed him. I still remember the trip. A boat, a train, an airplane. What an adventure! Without going into generalities, you are partly right. Americans easy encourage artists. Everyone has a chance here; which makes it that you want to always surpass yourself. It is a still young country. The margin to accomplish great things remains considerable.
Is the look you make on your work always positive?
No. When a work displeases me, I tell myself that I am not ready. I put it aside so I can enjoy it later. It's all about timing. Most of the works selected for my ten-year career are pieces that I have been resting for years.
In what will this celebration consist of?
It will be spectacular. I have accumulated so many objects and works in various warehouses over the years, that I have difficulty believing in the magnitude of the phenomenon. Nobody is waiting for me in the art field. So far, I have tried to please everyone, following a well-traced road. From now on, I'm going to give myself pleasure, hoping of course that it will please. I have so much left to express. I'm a pressure cooker about to explode.
You will change support, size, style?
Ten years is nothing. I'm only at the beginning of the road. At 3%. You have not seen anything yet. All I can tell you is that this firework is likely to take the form of a museum ...
Your paintings and sculptures are exhibited in some galleries. Why not be independent like many local artists?
I did not sign any exclusivity contract. And then, I start, remember. You do not want to lock me up already (laughs)! My lithographs are selling online at phenomenal speed. Sometimes to be resold in the next minute on e-Bay. What do you want me to do? Once shared, sold, the work that was part of me lives its own life. You have to accept it.
How would you describe your art?
I do not do art. I am art, just like everything around me. This is not a series of end-to-end productions. It's like breathing. I never stop. Three to four hours of sleep are enough for me. And again, if I could do without it. Time is the key.
Everyone calls you Thierry around you, not Mr. Brainwash. Why this nickname which means "brainwashing" in English?
I try to surprise, to break down received ideas, letting my projects get maturity. Van Gogh never stopped painting. He did not sell any canvas during his lifetime. And history has proved him right, since he now counts among the great masters. For my part, I sow clues, cultivate mysteries that may be elucidated years after my death. I am a work of youth, unfinished, in perpetual movement, which will mark, I hope, the centuries to come.