Living in a city for long periods of time may mean that our eyes become used to seeing the same old elements. Lamp posts, benches, walls and sidewalks become unremarkable to our perception over time, giving us the self-imposed impression that our cities are dull and boring -- when in fact, they are probably not.
But that's where street art can come in and refresh that perspective, prompting us to look at our cities in new ways. Case in point is French artist Charles Leval (a.k.a. Levalet), who creates humourous urban art by combining large, wheatpasted illustrations along with public architecture.
Leval was born in France and grew up in Guadeloupe, where he became interested in art and urban culture. He began doing street art back in 2012, and now works with paper and india ink, using a projector to help draw large-scale images that are then pasted temporarily to surfaces. Leval explains:
[My work is a] game of visual and semantic dialogue with the present environment. The characters interact with the architecture and unfold in situations often bordering on the absurd.
There's a lot of cheeky irreverence in Leval's works, which often play off the architectural context they are situated in. For example, here's this great piece with what seems to be postal workers, delivering mail in HAZMAT (hazardous material) suits.
Here's this man contorting himself in a tangle of pipes -- looking down at the bottom of the image, you see the culprit: a real pipe snaking in underneath.
In a seeming commentary on our selfie-obsessed culture, this one has a man balanced on an electrical transformer, immortalizing himself with a camera, under the word "Cinema."
Some of Leval's other works have a more political or social message, such as this one that features a sleeping homeless man, under a sign that says "Locaux disponible" (rentals available), or the suggestively titled "Human Resources" which features one glassy-eyed worker coming out of a locker full or tie-wearing workers.
But as Leval states himself, the interpretation of his quirky and often thought-provoking works are up to the viewers themselves. His works are deeply contextual, not just architecturally, but socially as well, speaking to not only the constraints and possibilities of our urban spaces, but our society as well -- a variety of embedded messages that are left to the beholder to discover and consider. To see more, you can visit Levalet, as well as on Facebook and Instagram.