Yarps (Spray written backwards) is a French street artist who produces mainly stencil portraits who lives and works in Paris.
A bit of a free agent amongst the punk and underground scenes, Yarps reunites the Zen Copyright – a group of artists who favor squats as sources of inspiration and artistic support – in 1990. After many expulsions, their collective opens various spaces in Paris and is joined by stencil artists (including Le Bateleur, who is considered as one of the pioneers of urban art in the 1980’s-90’s). At the same time, the street artists that Yarps admires are starting to make themselves known. Among them are Jérôme Mesnager, Blek and Speedy Graphito.
Yarps exhibits multiple times in these artistic squats, presenting works composed of various types of media. He does so until the dissolution of his collective, at the end of the 1990’s. He collaborates closely with photographer Gérard Lavalette for several years, cutting the matrices for the portraits that Lavalette creates for him.
With time, Yarp’s stencils evolve towards collage. He sprays directly onto prints of old newspapers or books, chosen according to his favorite themes, before hanging them up on the walls. Never a fan of mundane superficiality, Yarps disregards the form and procedure that is usually expected of artists, such as the exhibition vernissage. In fact, he prefers to work in his Paris apartment, which doubles as his workshop, carving out the silhouettes of his intimate heroes with his trusty x-acto cutter whenever time permits.
Yarps’ heart years for stencils, but also for vinyls: his work is tied to a number of musical influences (early reggae, rock’n’roll, Serge Gainsbourg, the soundtracks for Tarantino and Schifrin…). The artist himself spent a few years in the Conservatory. A tad provocative, adept of shocking images, he often adds a pinch of dark – and political – humor.