It’s safe to say that Kashink is quite unlike any other street artist I’ve ever met. More than anyone else I’ve met she lives her life as an artist. There’s no distinction between what she does on walls, on canvases and how she lives: it’s all art, right down to the pencil moustache she drawn on her upper lip when I interviewed her. Animated and energetic, she has no reserve about expressing her opinions and the value of art in public spaces.
Boom! Bang! Kashink!
I always loved to draw, paint and little craft things as a kid – I was also into writing, inventing and making music. I’m from Paris and I grew up in the Banlieus [council housing estates] in South Paris – that was my first exposure to graffiti. I used to take train into Paris and I saw lots of graffiti by the train tracks as a kid in the 90s. I started painting walls in my style 7 years ago; before that I tagged a little bit. I’m 31 now.
My name ‘Kashink’ is an onomatopoeic word; it comes from comic books I read when I was a kid. It’s a sound of action. I’ve always been into comic books and I still read them. Comics have influenced my style, for example the colours and the thick lines. Most of my walls could be a square in a comic strip. I’m also influenced by national crafts. I have Spanish and Slovakian origins so I am influenced by Russian and Mexican crafts too. I’m curious about working with artisanship (not so much an artistic influence but more of an approach).
Artistically speaking, I had a revelation when I discovered Frida Kahlo’s work: very strong portraits. I’ve always loved and been amazed by people; they’re all different! You never know what a person is going through when you bump into them. I’m curious and I imagine aspects of other people’s lives. We’ve all had a childhood, a broken heart, etc. That’s what attracts me to portraits.
Keith Haring was also an influence as a person because he dared to do something different. Street art is not necessarily letters. Graffiti is more about staying among a closed community; other people don’t) care or understand. Keith Haring wanted to share his art. I want to share my art and make people think in a creative way.
I’m also a big fan of Gilbert and George. I think their art is technically good (the lines and colours) but I love the fact they’re performing in normal life; it’s amazing, living the existence of an artist. I do this act in normal life; my own appearance is an extension of my art [Kashink is wearing a pencil-line moustache as I interview her]. It’s like an alter ego; all graffiti artists are like this because of the other names we have.
When I paint I choose things that could be interpreted in different ways. Painting on streets is a way of sharing with people. There’s a situation in my art and that’s very important. My piece at See No Evil is a man holding a key so you know there’s something going on.
Figures in Paris
In Paris it’s easy to find unpainted shutters and I paint them a lot, most of the time without permission. I’ve never had problems – not once! I always get good feedback, even from the shop owners afterwards. They don’t expect someone to paint I do with spray cans. People are just happy to see colour in their neighbourhood.
When I’ve painted in the UK I’ve been invited so everything has been provided. Lately I’ve been invited to quite a lot of other places. The environment is different in each place. The best response I’ve had has been in Bristol and California. The UK has a history with street art and people are used to seeing it now and appreciate figurative work. If I painted only letters it would be much harder!
See No Evil has been my biggest piece so far. It was very challenging for me because the surface was big and uneven. It was like giving birth and that was a big baby! I want to go bigger. I have a license to use cherry pickers in France!
I’m also working on an installation for the Contemporary Art Biennial in Le Havre and I have a few shows coming up in galleries in Paris. I always pick themes for my solo shows. Last year the theme was ‘Gayfitti’ and I talked about sexuality, shaking the very masculine world of graffiti. I’m a woman but I don’t paint women; I’m not constrained by gender. Most female street artists paint cute, half-naked figures. I think its time to bring something new as a person and as a woman.
With Gayfitti I worked with ‘Act Up,’ a charity that seeks equal rights for gays (in marriage, etc.). I painted a lot of things for free for them. I want to get myself involved as an artist in causes that are important to me. That’s just one cause; there are others.