By Seth Huiras
When reflecting on the art scene of modern-day Menton, images surface of grand museums, such as Jean Cocteau Severin Wunderman Collection Museum, and baroque ornament exemplified by the Basilica of Saint Michel rising above the cityscape.
Upon closer inspection, one can discover new artistic enclaves beginning to flourish as well. Hidden directly below Saint Michel’s spire rests a space dedicated to regional and local artists. The gallery, known as Galerie Tiphaine, includes enough diversity to suit a variety of tastes. Michel Morlot, one of the founders of the gallery, said artists come from Nice and other surrounding cities. He hopes that more will join the gallery after its reputation spreads.
“We have to take the initiative to look for them because we’re not yet well known,” said Morlot. “Maybe in awhile, it won’t matter.”
The spacious hall exhibits modern art, oil and water paintings, sculptures and more. At the left end of the hall centers a table with miniature objects of flowers, dancers and instruments. A sidelight is attached to cast a shadowy contour of a woman’s face and bosom or other forms. Artists there are independent amateurs who bring diverse ideas from surrounding areas, and the “light art” sculptures are simple illuminations of what it means to be original in a space known for its art. The gallery rotates some of the art at the start of each month.
Exiting the gallery and down the steps toward rue piétonne, a new kind of experience attracts crowds late in the evening. Aerosolgrafia, or spray paint art, differs from wall graffiti because of its interactive and presentational nature. Christian Campos, who paints in the summer tourist season, excitedly creates his art from scratch on a blank canvas as passersby hear his music.
“I’m not normal, you see,” said Christian when explaining how he functions as a street artist. He explained the necessity to envision the fantastic, and some of his work reflected local perspectives, such as a view across the sea with cliffs framing the painting and seagulls overhead.
With hands furiously at work, he continues to perform, and slowly, his scene takes final form. After a purposeful smudge on the side and an extra shot of black paint at the bottom, a cosmic painting unfolds before the audience, followed by a round of applause.
Some aerosografia artists receive criticism because they are accused of lacking originality or desiring quick money, according to an online historical summary of the form by Gerardo Amor. One thing is certain, however: local art found in the streets and crevices of Menton add to a community of creators and help build appreciation to unique and original art forms.