The decor could be sober, industrial, uncluttered, if it were not for the works on the wall, whose colors energetically protrude from the supports, the canvases on the table still in composition, the pots of paint or the traces of colors which cheerfully illuminate the room. Being in Zest’s studio is like diving into his work. The liveliness of colors and shapes captivates. His style permeated the space.
Meeting with one of the most prominent street art artists of the moment.
Zeste, tell us about your background. How did you become an artist?
Franck Noto, alias Zest: Born into a family of artists, I was embodied by art from a very young age. My parents painted a lot. I saw them sign at the bottom of the canvas, and I wanted to reproduce what they would perform. I discovered graffiti at the age of 8, but I only really immersed myself in it in 1995, around 15 years old. I really liked painting on the walls of the football stadium next to my house, I let my thoughts drift away. I made my first canvas as an artist in 1997, and I started painting in the studio in 2000.
Where do you draw your inspiration from? How did you build your style, recognizable among all?
I transcribe on my canvases everything that I have observed during the years that I have spent rubbing shoulders with the world of graffiti. I try to combine the different energies found in this discipline and bring them out through the shapes and primary colors that I use. The dazzling colors symbolize the aspect of Urban Art which immediately attracts the attention of passers-by, even before they emit a positive or negative opinion on what they see. As for the transparency of the forms, it reflects an accumulation of energies and movements. Some series such as Fault illustrate the detachment of an artist vis-à-vis his art, as in graffiti everything is ephemeral. Even if it continues to exist, one work will be covered by another, and so on. It is this notion of infinity, of eternal renewal, that I wish to express.
Which artists inspire you, and why?
I feel inspired by artists who evolve in different artistic circles. It can range from street art to contemporary art. Many people, who are however not creative, also inspire me, because they are not formatted by this environment and have a slightly more objective opinion. By talking with them, I have the impression of rediscovering naive art, once studied through children devoid of any influence. Moreover, the only relevant reflections that I was able to receive in the gallery came from people who were not artists. I think everyone has something to contribute, even the uninitiated, and it is thanks to them in particular that I manage to evolve in an avant-garde way. I prefer not to follow this or that trend and not confine myself to specific codes, in order to be authentic and true.
What event marked your life as an artist?
The fresco that I created during the “Street Art on the Roc” festival in Villars-Fontaine in 2016 was the symbol of a great turning point in my life as an artist. This realization allowed me to make the transition from a figurative style to abstraction, a field that I am exploring today.
Do you have international projects?
I am a native of Montpellier, my life is here. So it was only natural that I set up my studio there. I work regularly with international galleries and on the creation of frescoes. As for everyone, the year 2020, so special with this health situation, has slowed down my projects outside France.