Yz Franco-British, b. 1975

“Black allows me to get to what is essential,” says YZ - pronounced “eyes”. What is essential, for the Franco-British artist, is these people she renders frontally, using Indian ink, as well as the historical and political context to which they are connected. Descendants of Caribbean slaves, women soldiers from a former African kingdom, female figures from various ethnic groups emblazed in their finest ornaments… YZ depicts them on a giant scale, on wood panels, sheets of tin or the city walls. A way of rehabilitating some of the men and women that have been obscured or mistreated in History, and changing how we look at them, which has earned YZ the reputation of a socially committed artist.

 

However her commitment often leads off the beaten track, to places where memories and poetry come together. Sometimes her work merges with an exploration of family intimacy, as when she goes in search of her roots after her Guadeloupean grandfather. At other times she points to different temporalities that intersect with ours and give her work a particular aura. Her portraits remind us of bygone eras: Europe in the 1900s, slavery and colonization, eighteenth and nineteenth-century West Africa. All of these aspects make up an artistic approach that is truly outside of the usual and dominant codes of street art. In the urban art world, YZ absolutely stands out.

 

Another distinctive trait: YZ works with delicate techniques using kraft paper, marouflaged silk paper, papyrus. The medium complements the picture. It allows her to dive deeper into her subjects. In the same spirit, for her outdoor projects, she seeks to exploit the roughness of the walls. “I use the city as a material,” she explains, “and not as an exhibition space.” This attention given to her materials, not at all that surprising coming from this daughter of a sculptor and a ceramist, further adds to the embodying power of her portraits, making them even more emotionally relatable.  

 

Yseult Digan, alias “YZ”, born in 1975, is a Franco-British artist. Her work has been presented in major institutions like the Centre Pompidou in Paris or the ArtScience Museum in Singapore. In 2017, she was selected to give a new face to Marianne - the national personification of the French Republic - as she appears on postage stamps, a reinterpretation which she named “Marianne l’Engagée.” In 2019, Eurotunnel entrusted her with the creation of a monumental work on both sides of the Channel. After having lived and worked for several years in Senegal and Ivory Coast, she now resides in France.

 

Sélection solo shows

 

2019

I will Always See You, Eurotunnel, Coquelles, France

Empress, Collégiale Saint Pierre, Orléans, France

Street vendors, Galerie Louisimone Guirandou, Abidjan, Ivory Coast

 

2018

Amazone, Le MUR, Paris, France

 

2017

Empress, La Graffeterie, Uzerche, France

Queen of the Underworld, Galerie Danysz & Villa Molitor, Paris, France

Eternelles Amazones, Fondation Blachère, Apt, France

Lost in the City, Galerie Pictura, Cesson, France

 

2016

Les Murs de la L2, Marseille, France

 

2015

Amazing Amazons, French Art Studio, London, UK

 

2014

Nuit Blanche, Paris, France

A London Adventure, Galerie Magda Danysz, Paris, France

 

2013

La Femme du Dernier Étage, Croix Baragnon, Toulouse, France

Silent Ladies, Xin Art, Ile de Ré, France

Angel, Centre d'art de l'Ile Moulinsart, Fillé, France

 

 

Selected group shows

 

2019

Kaleidoscope, Institut Bernard Magrez, Bordeaux, France

 

2018

Art from the Streets, Art & Science Museum, Singapore

 

2017

Street Generations, La Condition Publique, Roubaix, France

 

2016

Amazone, Dak'art, Dakar, Sénégal

Art from the Street, CAFA Museum, Beijing, China

Dongdong, Danysz Gallery, Shanghai, China

 

2015

Knock on wood, Danysz gallery, Paris, France

La main qui Dessinait Toute Seule, Danysz gallery, Paris, France

Urban Art Biennale, Musée Völklinger Hütter, Völklingen, Germany

360°, Danysz gallery, Shanghai, China

Ride the wall, Genève, Switzerland

Masters of Street Art, Danysz gallery, London, UK

Intervention, Danysz gallery, Paris, France

 

 

2014

Street (Art) Invasion, Le Carreau, Cergy, France

Look Through, Danysz gallery, Shanghai, China

Black & White, Danysz gallery, Paris, France

 

2013

Les Bains, Danysz gallery, Paris, France

Exsitu,  Centre Pompidou, Paris, France

 

2012

Fantastic, Street art, Lille 3000, Lille, France

Contexte, La Lune en Parachute, Epinal, France

Inside Walls, Musée Dupuy Mestreau, Saintes, France

Le MUR de l'Art, Espace Blancs Manteaux, Paris, France

 

2011

Back to the Roots, Le Théâtre, Auxerre, France

Mix'art, Fondation Clément, Paris, France

Regards Croisés, Maison Folie de Moulins, Lille, France

 

2010

Back to the Roots, Mairie de Sainte-Rose, Guadeloupe

Biennale de Moscou, Russia

Les 3 ans du MUR, Espace Blancs Manteaux, Paris, France

 

2009

Né dans la rue, Fondation Cartier, Paris, France

Stepanska Street Art, French Institut, Praga

 

2008

MAI 68, Fête de l'Humanité, Paris, France

MAI 68, Maison des Arts de Bagneux, Bagneux, France

 

2007

Stencil History X, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France

 

2006

DITES 33, Espace Les Blancs Manteaux, Paris, France

Intermedia, B girl Summit, Minneapolis, Minnesota, US