A residency in Montmartre, at the Cité internationale des arts, what is it like?
"The benefits of a residency at the Cité internationale des arts in Montmartre are endless.
First of all, the setting is ideal for work. Slightly set back from the touristic Montmartre, the Cité internationale des arts and its urban vegetation offer a haven of peace to its artists, a bubble of concentration in the middle of the city's adrenaline, which is not unlike what we experienced in Rome during our year of residence at Villa Medicis.
The group life then. Since studio work can be solitary, it is a chance to be able to live among other artists from such diverse backgrounds and countries. Because it is a long-term project and offers a stimulating environment, the residency allows for deep connections, exchanges and even collaboration with these different artists, whether they live in Montmartre or on the marsh site.
Finally, in a more symbolic way, living and working in Montmartre as an artist is a bit of a waking dream. If we are sensitive to it, it is the illusion of following in the footsteps of our illustrious predecessors, whether they were naturalists, impressionists, fauves or cubists. The link between the Butte and art history is so special and strong that you could swear you could see their ghosts at night, on the terraces of cafés, in mythical cabarets or in the deserted streets of the district."
What are your ongoing projects?
"First of all, we will resume our four-handed creative work in our new studio at the Orfèvrerie in Saint Denis, located in the former Cristofle factories. This is where we will develop our next urban intervention for the 2019 edition of the Constellations de Metz. On May 16, 2019, Sowat will open his new solo exhibition La Mécanique des Fluides at the Lefeuvre & Roze Gallery, bringing together works created throughout the year in the Montmartre studio. Finally, still in Paris and in June 2019, Lek will present his next solo exhibition in Joel Knafo Gallery."
Working in pairs since 2010, LEK (1971, France) & SOWAT (1978, France / United States) share a common taste for Urbex - or urban exploration - a discipline that consists of exploring the city in search of modern ruins. Pushing the limits of traditional graffiti, their in situ experiments combine videos, architectural abstractions, installations and archaeology to create a modern form of urban land art.
In 2012, the Mausoleum project, which saw them organize a clandestine artistic residence in an abandoned shopping centre in the capital, caught the attention of Jean de Loisy, who opened the doors of the Palais de Tokyo to them. Surrounded by some fifty iconic urban artists and curator Hugo Vitrani, Lek & Sowat spent two years creating an experimental exhibition in the building's emergency exits, initiating what would become the Lasco Project, the art centre's first urban art sky programme.
Since then, they have multiplied their collaborations with artists from such diverse backgrounds as the beat poet John Giorno, stylists Agnès b. and Jean Charles de Castelbajac, graffiti pioneers Futura, Mode2 and Jonone and Jacques Villeglé, precursor of street art. It is with the latter that they created the Tracés Directs project, the first graffiti work to be included in the Centre Pompidou's permanent collection.