Thierry Noir was born in 1958 in Lyon, France, and came to Berlin in January 1982. In April 1984, Noir began to paint the Berlin Wall with Christophe Bouchet, in order to perform one real revolutionary act: To paint the Berlin wall, to transform it, to make it ridiculous, and to help destroy it. They covered the wall, more than 3 metres high, with bright, vivid colours, aiming not to embellish the wall but to demystify it. In Berlin, Noir lived metres from the Wall – his vivid murals were both a personal response and a poignant political statement. Painting on the wall was absolutely forbidden; it was built 3 metres beyond the official border so the east-German soldiers were able to arrest any person standing near it.
Stik is one of London’s best known and most loved street artists. He is renowned for painting simple, androgynous stick figures which although simple nevertheless convey complex body language and emotion. Themes of human vulnerability are infused into Stik’s work to reflect his own life story and experiences with homelessness. Initially Stik developed his simple style through the exigence of having to execute works illegally, in a similar vein to Thierry Noir.
Noir had to paint as quickly as possible, using the recipe of ‘two ideas, three colours’ as a celebration of the ‘eternal youth’. Despite their bright colours and playful nature, the murals leave a lingering sense of melancholy: As Noir says, “I did nothing but react to its sadness”. After the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, his paintings became a symbol of new-found freedom after the reunification of Germany and the end of the Cold War. The fall of the wall gave birth to the East Side Gallery, a 1.3 kilometre stretch of wall upon which 118 artists from 21 countries applied their designs.In 1990, Noir painted 16 of his infamous faces on the wall, leaving a lasting testimony for future generations.
Now, routinely invited to paint walls legally by the community in East London Stik maintains his minimal simplicity for aesthetic reasons. A notable recent project of Stik’s was his recreation on the streets of Dulwich of a series of Old Master paintings from the permanent collection of Dulwich Picture Gallery. In the last year or so Stik has spread his wings to paint all over the world.
Richard Howard-Griffin, Principal of Street Art London, and Stik had the good chance to meet Thierry Noir while in Berlin and at once invited him to London to paint the VU Wall.
‘Making of the Wall’ – Thierry Noir and Stik Finished Wall – Thierry Noir and Stik
Interview with Thierry Noir (Street Art London)
Great Eastern Street Panels – Thierry Noir
Thierry Noir Film documenting London visit
Not least in New York and also in Jordan as part of a collaborative project with the British Council. It was while painting in Berlin in October 2012 that Stik met Thierry Noir.