Lek & Sowat
Born in 1971 and 1978 in Paris and Marseille.
Live in Paris.
Biography of Lek & Sowat
Lek was born in 1971 in Paris. He grew up a stone’s throw away from the mythical ‘Stalingrad’ wasteland, the Mecca of European graffiti in the 1980s. Lek is a member of Da Mental Vaporz, French Kiss, LCA, GNS, RAW, and 1984. Collaborating with the members of the LCA group, he spent the 1990s emancipating himself from the traditional canons of New York graffiti, infusing his work with Bauhaus influences, abstractions, and Futurism. As he gradually left the streets to work exclusively in abandoned industrial wastelands, Lek became one of the pioneers of what is now known as urban exploration, constantly travelling across the suburbs of Paris in search of new play grounds. In 2009, he co-wrote with YKO the book “Nothing but letters” (Editions Alternatives, 2009), a visual collection of 20 years of graphic experiments and urban installations, which had a tremendous impact on the graffiti scene then in full boom. He exhibited his work at the Grand Palais in 2006 and 2009. In 2014 and 2015, he collaborated with Agnès B and Kenzo to create clothes, and continued his solo and duo projects with Sowat.
Sowat was born in 1978 in Marseille from a French and American background. He began painting as a teenager, in the streets, wastelands and along the railroads in Marseille. Inspired by Cholo Writing and the work of Chaz Bojorquez, he wrote “La France d’en Bas” with Gris1 (Editions Alternatives, 2003), a book about the emergence of the graffiti culture in the south of France. A member of the Da Mental Vaporz group (Dran, Bom.k, …) he drew abstract calligraphy on monumental murals and exhibitions with his crew around the globe (Australia, Germany, England, Denmark…). Meanwhile, Sowat developed experimental video works that culminated with the films “Mausoleum” and “Tracks Direct”, performed alongside Lek.
The meeting of Lek & Sowat happened in 2010 at a collective exhibition organized by the Graffiti Art magazine at the Celal gallery. They shared a common taste for Urbex or Urban Exploration, the art of finding and creating things in abandoned places. Pushing the boundaries of traditional graffiti, their in situ experiments are a mix of video, architectural abstraction, installations and archeology, creating a modern form of urban land art. They were behind the ‘Mausoleum’ project, a wild artistic residency performed in an abandoned supermarket of 40,000 m2 in Aubervilliers where they invited over 40 artists for nearly a year. This project was kept secret until 2012, when the release of a book, a film and a collective exhibition were organized. At the invitation of Jean de Loisy, Lek & Sowat then invested the basement of the Palais de Tokyo for over a year with fifty other artists, initiating alongside curator Hugo Vitrani what became the “Lasco Project”. At the end of 2013, working this time with twenty other artists including Jacques Villeglé, they directed the “Tracés directs” film (see video below). Through this project, their work was the first to return to the permanent collection of the Centre Pompidou from artists from the graffiti movement. They also participated in the Tour Paris 13 project, and worked on the Bains Douches project. Since then, they have regularly kept collaborating on many other projects in France and abroad.
Exhibition dates of Lek & Sowat
Lek avec Kan et Jaws, Amerouge, Galerie 42B, Paris
Sowat, Ars Longa Vita Brevis – Galerie Richard et Lefeuvre, Genêve
Oxymore, Ministère de la Culture, Artazoï, Paris
L’art bouge les gare, Ajaccio, Corse
Big City Life, 999 Contemporary, Rome
Agnes b. Pret à porter Femme, Printemps 2015 (Lek), Paris
J.C de Castelbajac Prét à porter, Printemps 2015, Paris
Underground Doesn’t Exist Anymore, Palais de Tokyo, Paris
The Wall, Da Mental Vaporz, BC Gallery, Berlin
Drawing Now, avec Jacques Villeglé, Espace Commines, Paris
Contrebande, Galerie David Bloch, Marrakech
Street Art, Espace Poll’n, Nantes
Terrains Vagues, Lasco Project, Palais de Tokyo, Paris
Tracés Directs – Direct Outlines, Palais de Tokyo, Paris
Etats des Lieux, Galerie Agnès b, Paris
La Tour Paris13, Paris
Histoire d’un Mur, le Voyage à Nantes, Nantes
Underground Résistance, Marseille 2013, Marseille
Les Bains Douches – Galerie Magda Danysz, Paris
Artaq 2013, Angers
Programme Link avec Jacques Villeglé – Centre Pompidou, Paris
Dans les entrailles du Palais secret, Palais de Tokyo, Paris
Intervention sur bâtiment John Giorno, Palais de Tokyo, Paris
Mausolée, Résidence Artistique Sauvage – Paris
Lek, fresque du MUR XIII
WIP la Villette, Cité de la Musique, Paris
Graffiti Art Summer Show, Galerie Celal, Paris
Lek, Lettres Contre Architectures, La Place Forte, Paris
Lek, TAG au Grand Palais
Lek et Horfee, Les dynamiques à la galerie Chappe