By combining hyperrealism, surrealistic elements and popular cultural symbols, the French duo Murmure street creates street art that appeals to the general public
an article written by Julie Johanne Svendsen
translation by Carmen Line Hust
ARTICULATE #26 | JAN 2021
Murmure street consists of Paul Ressencourt (b. 1981) and Simon Roche (b. 1983), who have created street art, wall paints and short-term exhibitions together, since 2010. Their preferred motif is realistically portrayed human characters with a twist of surrealism. The duo, who met during their artistical education, mainly make use of materials, such as acrylic paint, Chinese ink, chalk and pencils. Their methods vary from illustrations by freehand and stencils, to paste-up. Together, Murmure street has professional and craft knowledge of graphic and urban art techniques at their disposal, which they unite in playful and poetic works that interact with the specific environment in which they are created.
The duo finds its inspiration in everything from literature, film and fashion, and is daily nurtured by current news and headlines. Murmure street is specifically trying to actualize art by having a starting point in the world and the trends that are pulsating in society. The series ‘Garb-age’ examines e.g., highly topical themes such as consumer culture, ecology and sustainability, and uses the black garbage bag as a pervasive visual element and symbol. Through art, the duo communicates their perspectives and critiques of society without squeezing a fixed meaning down the throat of the viewer. For Murmure street, it is important that their works do not only have a graphic or aesthetic value. They want to provide perspective and meaning with the proviso that the viewer always has the right to interpret the works freely. By drawing on popular cultural references and everyday objects such as the garbage bag or the iconic image of Hamlet holding a skull in outstretched arm, the duo uses visual codes that all people can easily decode and recognize:
“We consider ourselves as street artists and that means for us, unlike contemporary art, that our work must be visible by the public. That the public should be able to understand it without having a set of keys or elitist references.”
As part of their ‘Garb-Age’ series, the work ‘Wilson 2020’ is included, which refers to the Tom Hanks film Cast Away. The work shows the iconic image of ‘Wilson’ (i.e., a handprint of blood on an American football, which in the film constitutes the main character's only companion while stranded on a desert island) depicted on a filled black plastic bag. By combining a symbol of the world's impending environmental crisis with an iconic image of isolation, Murmure street captures in a simple and powerful way the year 2020, which has offered overconsumption, environmental damage (among other things due to the millions of disposable mouthpieces that have ended up in the bin and the oceans) and the isolation that the COVID-19 pandemic has forced upon people around the world.
Murmure street selects motifs primarily on the basis of a principle of relevance and secondarily on the basis of the work's plastic properties. The plastic bag that appears in the ‘Garb-age’ series, they have chosen based on the meaning and symbolism that the bag allows them to communicate, combined with the bag's simple aesthetic, which allows them to work with light and contrasts.
Murmure street generally has a penchant for contrasting compositions, which is why black chalk is the duo's favorite tool when it comes to drawing. The black chalk allows for deep contrasts and gives a deep matte effect. In wall paintings, they work primarily with acrylic paint and not spray paint, since spray paint, according to the duo, gives a too shiny and smooth result. By working with a brush, they achieve a more brutal and moving work without compromising the realistic properties of the work. It is crucial for Murmure street to have a wide technical palette to work with so that they can work with exactly the techniques that best support the motif and theme.
The most important thing for Murmure street is that the idea behind the work matters. Their process is therefore characterized by reflection and discussion while always working on several pieces at the same time. A piece can therefore take anywhere from one week to two years before it is completed. Together, the duo experiments with techniques and the form of the work, and only completes a piece when both parties are satisfied with the result. Murmure street suggests a successful composition to be one that conveys a message or provides new perspectives:
“Our ambition is to combine aesthetics and meaning, but without ever falling into pathos. The idea is to address themes that seem important to us by treating them in the most poetic and aesthetic way possible.”
This article about Murmure Street takes part of the 26th magazine, ARTICULATE #26. Read, download or order your print version of the full publication below.
ARTICULATE #26 | International
ARTICULATE 26 is a magazine for contemporary art, packed with 80 pages of high quality content, showcasing the work of 5 professional artists, featuring the German painter Volkano, the French street art duo Murmure street, the American illustrator and visual artist Steven Russell Black, the Greek disturber Nefeli Kyriacou and Brazilian creative photographer Jacke Batista.