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Horfee's world

A man without a bank-account sprays his way into the walls of Paris and east London

Paris’ Horfee is a quintessential graffiti writer’s graffiti writer: he’s a true outlaw (dude doesn’t even have a bank account, seriously), he’s got an instantly recognisable style that’s all his own, and he gets up, illegally, all over the place like ker-aaazy. This week sees Horfee momentarily forswear his life of glorious crime in order to break and enter into the world of high art, as he unveils his debut solo show at the Wilkes Street Gallery in East London. Featuring drawing, painting and sculpture, Horfee’s Imaginarium is a pretty much ‘graffiti-less’ extravaganza of loud and lurid and way-fun brain-boggling images, all painstakingly knocked-up by the fair hand of the French maestro. We caught up with le legende himself ahead of tonight’s opening…

So what do you want to achieve with this show?

There are a couple of things that are very important to me with this show, starting with a book - which we'll be selling at the gallery - called "Ain't No Doodles." It's an important text by a friend of mine, and it's illustrated with pictures of recent works, some by me, some by other friends. It's the first book in a series that want to do. Then the work I’ve produced for the show is the start of a real engagement with drawing, composition, and interaction with people for me. It's not just old pieces from here and there that I’ve dragged together: this time I've had the luxury of making work specifically for the show, which has been a totally new experience. I really pushed myself into a highly strict level of artistic development for this thing: I've been going into a sort of trance state while I've been making drawings for hours and hours on end. I've really got into trying to feel directly the effects of the rhythm and rhyme, and measuring the strength of the composition.

To what extent is the new work ‘like graffiti'? 

The show is not graffiti at all, it just owes a lot to graffiti because that's the world I come from. Obviously, I do graffiti outside, but to me an art exhibition just can't be "graffiti." Accepted art is not graffiti. Graffiti has to be illegal. To be effective it has to touch the right people; people who are surprised when they see it in the street, people who understand that there's a creative way of doing things outside of the limits of the law. People still find it very hard to understand that you might prefer graffiti it's not permitted! But for me it's like that best cigarette of your life: the one you smoked whilst hiding down a back alley when you were 16.