Meet Ememem, the artist filling potholes in Europe with colorful mosaics
Anyone in Lyon, France will be hard-pressed to miss the hundreds of colorful mosaics that dot the city’s sidewalks, artistically and ingeniously covering potholes and other divots. This is the work of the anonymous French artist known as Ememem, whose characteristic vibrant works have earned him the title ‘pavement surgeon’ or ‘knight of the potholes’. . A collection of his works was exhibited at District 13: International Art Fair in Paris earlier this month.
Who is Ememem?
The Lyon artist’s website indicates that he was previously a songwriter in a well-known rock band. “Born on a damaged sidewalk in 2016, Ememem is one of those sons born out of the tarmac who has disorder running through his blood. At art events or moonlit undercover, he mends the street and the heart of those who trample it,” he says.
In the past six years since he started identifying, filling and decorating potholes in Lyon with mosaics, their number has risen to more than 300. Given his elusiveness and style of work, the artist is often compared to his British counterpart and popular street artist Banksy.
The technique used by the artist
Ememem, who describes himself as a “bitumen repairer, sidewalk poet, macadam surgeon”, uses materials such as ceramics, wood and bitumen to fill in damaged pavement and repair fractured sidewalks. He described his technique as “flacking”, a play on the French word flaque, which means puddle, and as “the art of fixing holes”.
The multicolored mosaics are made from tiles of different sizes and colors, arranged in geometric patterns and sometimes with his signature which bears a trowel and his name. On his works, his website specifies: “The coatings of his sidewalks illuminate the wounds of the urban fabric. They are part of the audacity of street art and contemporary art while recalling the traditional Japanese kintsugi, the art of repairing while enhancing.
Where did he leave his footprints?
While many of his works can be found on the cobbled streets and sidewalks of Lyon, they can also be spotted in the major European cities of Paris, Madrid, Barcelona and Milan. In addition, replicas of pavement plasters are also created in a workshop and exhibited in galleries and international contemporary art fairs.
While his first solo took place in 2018 at the Taverne Gutenberg in Lyon, he has exhibited around the world, notably at Paris Art Fair in 2021 and at the Nuart festival in Stavanger, Norway in 2018. Currently, Ememem is working on a project four years with the metropolis of Lyon on the “poetic design of its new network of cycle paths”.