Tuesday, 14 July 2009


A row of ghostly figures stand heads bowed, an army of faceless workers, a tunnel dwelling fleet of clones entwined by their briefcases. Painter and street artist ATMA’s recent mural sat in the depths of Tunnel 228, the collaboration between innovative theatre group Punchdrunk, The Old Vic Theatre, and Pictures on Walls – Banksy’s art collective.

Atma’s wall mural, Metropoli Souls, was one of an impressive roster of international contemporary artists selected to partake in this extraordinary combination of theatre and contemporary art. The Toulouse born artist’s work sat alongside work by acclaimed artists Alistair Mackie, Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller, Paul Insect and Polly Morgan, all housed in the maze of Victorian vaulted tunnels underneath Waterloo Station.

Sealed from the world of the city above for many years, it is fitting that Atma’s work would reside in such a locale. A nomadic city dweller, Atma’s paintings have found home on the walls and allies of streets across Europe and North Africa.

Atma’s work began in the underground street art scene of Toulouse alongside the likes of internationally acclaimed artists as Miss Van, CeeT, Tilt, and Der. Here his Black and White series Faces from the New World took shape.

The work Atma did in Barcelona adhered to a palette of black and white. Striking, minimal and evocative, the billboard-sized portraits drew inspiration from the black white iconography of jazz and hip hop. A two-year stint in Morocco found the artist painting diptychs of the North African sand dunes and exhibiting new dynamic and spiritual work in the galleries of Rabat .This brought him to the attention of the cities wealthy elite and led a canvas being bought as a wedding present for the king of Morocco. The following week an aid was sent to purchase further work for the Royal family.

Unsurprisingly, from there his reputation flourished.

Now a London resident the artist paints and creates collages from meticulously compiled collections of newspapers, receipts, tickets and packaging with images sourced from his own photography.

“Since living in London I collect everything from my life, this culture is so dependant on consuming, in the consumer game you keep asking for more. In my work, everything I use I have consumed.”

Atma has recently turned his collage to portraiture with subjects including Gordon Ramsey and Chris Eubank. His latest piece for Kevin Spacey currently adorns the wall of his office at the old Vic.

Atma has adopted a method of creating work which entails completely absorbing an environment. Just as he immersed himself in the culture of Rabat, through painting life and the desert and in Barcelona through literally painting the streets, Atma explores the very fabric of a place through materials and waste it expels. And in the case of the stunning and immersive Tunnel 228, going underground.

Atma is currently working on additional portrait commissions and plans to explore further collaborations with like-minded artists at other unusual locations. New themes for his work are evolving; social commentary will be one of them, while working with the underprivileged is also of great importance to him.

By Millie Ross

See more of Atma's work here

For sales enquiries, commissions and exhibitions please contact his agents at: sananguatavut@googlemail.com

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