Biography

Born in 1977, Vincent Abadie Hafez is a French artist who lives and works in Toulouse (France). Under the pseudonym of Zepha, he took part in the graffiti movement as of 1989. Trained in graphic arts, he enriched his art by concentrating on learning traditional calligraphic techniques, concentrating particularly on plastic interactions between Oriental and Western styles. Influenced by the work of Hassan Massoudy and Georges Mathieu, he has developed a singular visual language through his research on the deconstruction of the letter and the cross-cultural meanings of the signs. Recognised as one of the founders of urban calligraphy, he participates in the diffusion of a new aesthetic, breaking away from pictorial forms hitherto explored in the vandal writing styles. His abstract, methodical and condensed compositions take form in public spaces through monumental mural works in Europe and the Middle East. The gestural expression and the notion of movement are two fundamental components of the creative process that he pursues simultaneously in his studio work. Linking the formal to the spiritual, his work deconstructs the referents and reads as an enlightening source, praising a neglected universalist thought.

 

Rigor and freedom  by Hassan Massoudy

Contemplating Zepha’s work, our eyes wander through its labyrinths. We seek a reading, a meaning, and end up diving into the maze of this universal calligraphy. Symphony of letters and colorful signs, dynamic and expressive gestures punctuated by a harmony of colors: Kufic or Uncial, Orient or Occident, invented alphabet, imaginary calligraphy.

Entire wall or human size canvas, large or small work, brings out the same creative energy. From the metal or wood of his bas-reliefs to precise cuttings emanates a similar force, such as a flight of arrows thrown in order to overcome gravity. Hundreds of gestures ruled by an inner order, a breath. Zepha gives cohesion to all these dynamic or static movements. Facing a wall from a distance or a painting from a closer angle, we derive the mere pleasure, pleasure to see these peaceful swirls. Curved lines alongside straight lines, diagonals, forest of writings sometimes quiet, sometimes fiery, golden or silver on a matte black background, blue or gray on a shiny background.

The large circles of writing whirl, reminding us of the wheel of the norias on the Euphrates or the Orontes which turns and turns tirelessly and quivers the water vibrant of shades and lights. These wide circles composed of large signs seem to be orbits, surrounded by a procession of small letters in perpetual revolution in cosmic time.

With a set of transparencies and overlays, Zepha creates depth. Letters sink, move away or float, as if hanging. Others appear closer. Without any clash, static gestures offer dynamic gestures the freedom to move and fly away. The thick or fluid colors allow the brush to show stability or movement. This is how the right gesture becomes a mere gesture. Shadow and light. A movement owes its clarity to golden or silver colors, the light brightens the dark, the colorful material gives life to quick gestures.

From the bottom to the top floor of a building, on his elevator, under the scorching heat of the sun, in the wind, rain or cold, brush in his hand, Zepha gently attacks the wall. The first signs become references and give the rhythm to everything that follows. Here and there hidden lines give structure the internal space of the composition. The morphology of every gesture contributes to the creation of traces animating the entire surface of the work. An unjustified emptiness, a space missing of accuracy are pretext to be filled by a sign or a red dot, and here is the balance restored. Despite the great freedom of realization, the work is mastered and leaves little room to randomness. Zepha manages the imbalances created by the multitude of letters that snake and wind. Rigor and freedom complement one another.

Each creation is endowed with its own originality, here a rough wall, there a smooth wall. Everything participates in the technique of the work and provides the desired freedom. It is necessary to apply energy to each area, from the small gestures to the larger ones and to adapt and fit to every rebel situation. Softly touching the surface or increasing the pressure on the brush creates a different material. A tone or half a tone of color can shed more or less light through the gestures. Light makes it possible to see the nakedness of the sign drawn: no correction or alteration, no filling in, no hesitation. The imagined work is achieved. Being able to be quick to master rightfully the slowness and conversely, be very slow to accomplish the fast attack. Like an arrow drawn, each letter must reach its goal, settle in its place calmly or quickly. The gestures can be cold slow or hot fast. Zepha is able to stop his movement when the sign has arrived to its exact place.

The words of an old Chinese calligrapher can describe Zepha’s writing: “When the idea is at the end of the brush, no need to go to the end of the idea.”

Hassan Massoudy

 

Exhibitions

Papers & wood
Group show, The French Art Dealeuses, Paris (France), 2018

Grand opening
Group show, Mirus Gallery, Denver (USA), 2018

Odd marks
Group show, Pretty Portal Gallery, Düsseldorf (Germany), 2018

//No font ((Codex)(…2)
Group show, Avantgarden Gallery, Milan (Italy), 2018

3 directions
Group show, Mono Gallery, Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), 2018

Back to the wood
Solo show, Wallworks Gallery, Paris (France), 2017

Urban jealousy
Solo show, David Bloch Gallery, Marrakech (Morocco), 2017

Urbanites
Group show, Naila Art Gallery, Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), 2017

Graph’m
Group show, Ghaya Gallery, Tunis (Tunisie), 2017

Misk Art Festival
Group show and workshops, Riyadh, (Saudi Arabia), 2017

Sharjah Art Fair
Represented by Hafez Gallery, Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), 2017

Urban Art Fair
Represented by David Bloch Gallery, New York (USA), 2017

Superplasticizer
Solo show, The Mine Gallery, Dubaï (UAE), 2016

Soulmates
Group show, Art Thema Gallery, Brussel (Belgium), 2016

The Design of Words by Calligraphy Masters
Group show and workshop, Studio Acqua Su Marte, Milano (Italy), 2016

In Situ / Hors-le(s)-Mur(s)
Group show, Scarlett, Genève (Switzerland), 2016

Biennale de la calligraphie de Sharjah
Group show, Sharjah (UAE), 2016

Crossing paths – The intersection of memories
Duo show Vincent Abadie Hafez & Carlos Mare, David Bloch Gallery, Marrakech (Morocco), 2015

Kunstwollen
Solo show, Jed Voras Gallery, Paris (France), 2015

L’été
Solo show, 912 Arty Gallery, Lourmarin (France), 2015

Masterstrokes
Group show, Cube Arts Gallery, Dubai (UAE), 2015

Concrete alphabets
Group show, 886 Geary Gallery, San Francisco (USA), 2015

Urban art Biennale
Group show and site-specific mural, Völklingen Ironworks listed by UNESCO as world heritage site (Germany), 2015

Visual Uterrance
Group show, Cube Arts Gallery, Dubai (UAE), 2015

Ornements
Site-specific installation, Espace Croix Baragnon, Toulouse (France), 2014

Typograff – Conversation calligraphique
Solo show, Rosny-sur Seine (France), 2014

Artyshow
Group show, 912 arty gallery, Lourmarin (France), 2014

Tres culturas
Group show, Morocco pavilion, Tres Culturas foundation, Sevilla (Spain), 2014

A major minority
Group show, 1AM Gallery, San Francisco (USA), 2014

Cursive Monumentale
Solo show, Conseil Général de la Haute Garonne, Espace Roguet, Toulouse (France), 2014

Symbiose de deux mondes
Group show, Palais Namaskar, Marrakech (Morocco), 2013

Hypergraphia
Group show, BC Gallery, Berlin (Germany), 2013

Écritures sonores
Duo show Vincent Abadie Hafez & Johan Vasquez, Centre culturel des Mazades, Toulouse (France), 2013

White Wall
Group show, Beirut art center, Beirut (Lebanon), 2012

Indigo Dub
Solo show, David Bloch gallery, Casablanca (Morocco), 2012

Mutual writings
Group show and workshop, Contemporary Art Platform CAP Kuwait, (Kuwait), 2012

Inside Job
Solo show, David Bloch gallery, Casablanca (Morocco), 2011

Summer graffiti
Group show and site-specific installation, Rignac (France), 2010

Abstract writing
Group show, Galerie particulière, Nouméa, (New Caledonia), 2010

 

Public Space


Retracing memories
Mural, Gävle street art project, Gävle (Sweden), 2018

A storm is coming
Collaborative mural, Pow! Wow! festival, Rotterdam (Netherlands), 2018

Wqaf
Mural, Jedariya project, Maraya Art Center, Sharjah (UAE), 2018

Le milieu
Mural and group exhibition, Jardin Orange art residency, Shenzhen (China), 2017

Mu’allaqāt (Suspended odes)
Mural, Dubai Streets Festival (UAE), 2016

Si je suis né de la terre
Mural, Jidar toiles de rue festival, Rabat (Maroc), 2015

Rosa Parks fait le mur
Mural, Paris (France), 2015

Pas la peine d’attendre la nuit
Mural, Institut français, Agadir (Morocco), 2015

The Rehlatna (Our Journey)
Collaborative mural, World’s longest graffiti scroll, Dubai (UAE), 2014

Jalousie urbaine
Collaborative palimpsest mural, Pavillon Carré de Baudouin, Artazoï, Paris, 2014

Dia logos
Mural, Asalto festival internacional de arte urbano, Saragosse (Spain), 2014

La connaissance des hommes est un trésor
Mural, Djerbahood festival, Erriadh (Tunisia), 2014

Rosa de los vientos
Mural, Tres Culturas foundation, Tarifa (Spain), 2014

Streets 2013
Mural, Streets urban festival, Kasserine (Tunisia), 2013

Graff me
Mural, Beirut (Lebanon), 2013

99 Names
Collaborative mural, Katara Village Doha (Qatar), 2013

Capitoleum palimpseste
Mural, Toulouse (France), 2012

Mi nombre es todos
Collaborative palimpsest mural, artist exchange between Toulouse and Zaragoza, (Spain), 2010

 

Artist residencies

Chercheurs d’autres, Guyane (France), 2018

Jardin orange, Shenzhen (China), 2018

 

Publications


Drawing lines, a journey through the streets of Beirut
Tamara Zantout, ed. Urban fusion, 2018

The art of writing your name, urban calligraphy and beyond
Christian Hundertmark, Patrick Hartl, ed. Publikat, 2017

Djerbahood, open air museum of street art
Mehdi Ben Cheikh, ed. Albin Michel, 2015

Arabic graffiti
Pascal Zoghbi, Stone, Don Karl, ed. From here to fame, 2011