Updated: Mar 25, 2022
In March 2021, Montse Lloveras from Combiwel buurtnetwerk, which resides in De Havelaar, approached SAMA with the idea of creating an engaging artwork on the walls of the community building. The goals were to add a quality street artwork to the existing collection in De Hallenkwartier; engage as many residents as possible and highlight the diversity of skills and professions around the community house.
We had worked with SAMA before, such as with Suso33, TeamBlazin, MATAONE, Uriginal murals or Btoy's smaller artworks in our street and the experience was always very satisfactory, creating in turn a street in Oud-West dedicated to street art.
Having discussed for many weeks different artists and their styles, techniques, we have concluded on the Belgian artist Jaune, known for his portraits of workers with the intention of making this invisible but essential work visible in the streets of many European cities.
With this mural we want to draw attention to the property; invite the neighborhood to (further) get acquainted with the Havelaar; portray (figuratively or symbolically) the different functions of the house of the neighbourhood; offer a street art mural to the neighbourhood that values and makes the neighbourhood proud; de Douwes Dekkerstraat, which exudes care and creativity, to become a relevant point of Streetart in the neighbourhood,
states Anna Stolyarova, the founder of Stichting Street Art Museum Amsterdam
Jaune gives voice to the voiceless. The artist started his career working on the streets as a cleaner and self-educated himself as an artist, following the Banksy’s lead, to put the spotlight on lesser visible, lesser desirable, yet rather important functions in urban life. The Belgian artist, mainly based in Bruxelles but also famous around the world, rose to fame by invading the streets of the planet with his 35 cm tall “little guys”. He depicts the indispensable little hands in our big cities, because he reckons that municipal cleaners are not necessarily considered at their fair value. Artist Jonathan Pauwels, aka Jaune, propels these “invisible” heroes into irreverent and funny sketches. During his graphic design studies in Saint-Luc, he worked in parallel as a sweeper in Brussels and discovered the condition of these workers. They may be dressed fluorescent, they are invisible, no one calculates them whereas without them we would be crumbling under our own waste. Is it about paying homage to these shadow workers? Not completely because, even if he is giving them a voice to speak about their conditions, they would be supposed to clean up the world but instead they cause chaos and that's what he shows to the user.
Concretely, Jaune uses a technique similar to that of Banksy, which has greatly influenced him. His stencils are designed from photos (of his pals or real agents, because “there's always one hanging out”), then drawn on the graphics tablet before being printed and cut out. The Brussels resident has thus shaped nearly 150 characters, frozen in precise postures. JAUNE considers his work to be a writing exercise. Each of his fellows is a word, adopting a unique positions: there are those who fight, drink, carry things, those who interact with the city, climb, jump... There are lots of possible combinations that create a lot of stories with a limited vocabulary.
Nowadays, Jaune creates works that transcend what is often called vandalism to the realm of fine arts by providing a critical narrative on the cultural, socio-economic and artistic value of urban functions. Today he is one of the headliners of any collection or festival, where he is often asked to develop a site-specific narrative around the urban functions. Jaune has a set of existing characters, which travel from city to city, as the cleaners or road-workers wear similar clothes, colours around the world; but he also take photos of new situations in a specific city and make new stencil characters, making each scene original. His latest international achievements include, but not limited to, Heerlen in the Netherlands, Nuart Festival in Norway, Lille in France, Bayreuth in Germany, Esch in Luxembourg, London in UK.
Jaune traveled to Amsterdam during the month of December and met fifteen of the many people, who are part of De Havelaar community - professionals, volunteers and visitors. In this way, they were invited to be part of the process as well as models for the newly created art works that now decorate the neighbourhood house. Ultimately, Jaune presented ten portraits, of which four were recurring characters in his work and six were brand-new and based on the community members.
About this process Lloveras explains how
the most beautiful thing about working with Jaune was his generosity in creating designs through our stories. When we look at the wall that used to be gray, we now see one of the cooks or a jazz musician playing in De Havelaar, the community is now truly represented. One of the works made especially for the community center consists of a tandem. The community builder invites the neighbour to step into the tandem and backs him/her up in the desired direction.
The building on which the artwork is being created stands opposite gentrified apartments where many families from creative industries live, but also some lesser privileged residents of the city. The Hallenkwartier is undergoing rapid and heavy renovation which could also be considered as a constant noise pollution and nuisance to the residents. On the other hand, the serene oasis on the inside court of De Havelaar hosts the playground, the animal farm and a social house full of activities by the residents and for the residents, thus mixing those with higher and lower incomes into one community.
This project fits in SAMA’s tradition of producing the artworks that comment on the social aspects and/or contradictions of the neighbourhood, because JAUNE’s work responds to social inequality in metropolitan areas; mixing high quality stencil work with professions which are considered to be less glamorous. This is an interesting turn from the original ethics of street art movement as one of the few channels to respond to social, political and economic issues. Through street art, communities were able to give voice to their ‘deviant’ opinions, but they had to do so in careful ways as the medium was illegal.
On the 4th of March we presented the new artworks created for the Havelaar Community Center to the public. In the days prior to the inauguration (1st to 3rd March), the artist brought his stencils to the neighbourhood house, where he brought to life the portraits of the community. During these production days, many neighbours came by to talk to Jaune and witness his work. From local children, families and elderly people stopped by, curious about the Belgian artist's way of working. The same happened on the day of the big reveal, when the 80 people from the community received De Havelaar's new façade with enthusiasm and excitement.
According to Montse, the fact that it was street art so closely related to the people who make up the neighbourhood attracted many people who would not normally be part of a cultural or artistic event. In addition, during the presentation of Jaune's works, volunteer groups from De Havelaar provided food and entertainment for the evening, creating a fully communal and festive atmosphere.
When SAMA adds a new artwork to the collection, we always support the process with a series of educational workshops. Normally they happen during and after the neighbourhood had an opportunity to observe the creation of the mural by a professional artist. In this case, the goal was to draw ‘Like Jaune’ and come up with a series of drawing picturing what residents think and see, which can be displayed inside of the building and used for social media promotion of the new artworks. The idea is based on a methodically worked out workshop “Paint it like Banksy” which has been used in many SAMA projects. The workshop was conducted by Keys-Art's founder Metin Bagirgan.