To play with LETTERS
by Anna Klappenbach
ARTIST RYLSEE SHOWS US HOW
Visual artist Rylsee is a multi-talent. He works and exhibits all over the world, runs a street fashion label and has just released a book with no other than Moleskine - we wanted to get to know the person behind the madness and sat down with him (see above: preparing his exhibition at Urban Spree Berlin. ©Gabriel Balagué) for a little chat.
Swiss born Cyril Vouilloz aka Rylsee has had an exciting year so far with many projects that couldn’t possibly cover more areas. His most complete solo exhibition Other Inbox at Urban Spree Berlin was incredibly successful and mentioned in blogs and magazines around the globe, he’s launched exciting new collaboration project with his fashion label SNEEER and on top of all that he also released his first book with the legendary Italian notebook maker MOLESKINE. And as if that wasn’t enough: he’s also just become a father. If you’re wondering whether you’re about to learn how one person alone can do so many things at the same time prepare for disappointment: it’s still a mystery to us.
After living in places like Vancouver and São Paulo, Cyril has spent the last few years based in Berlin. Five years ago the gallery and live music venue Urban Spree Berlin became the base of his creativity when he moved into one of their studio spaces. A lot has changed there since, and so has he. One pattern has run through his work though: his love for playing with letters.
As part of the RAW area, Urban Spree Berlin is a creative hub with a gallery space for urban art exhibitions, a shop for books, posters and T-shirts, home to a tattoo studio and also a venue for live gigs. Rylsee has definitely grown up here, it seems, so what better place to show his work?
“After 5 years of residency there it was time for me to present my work in their gallery. I have been thinking a lot about the display of my exhibition, spending time in the empty space trying to imagine how I would fill up this big gallery space. With -other inbox-, I really wanted to present an exhibition that would be an experience more than just my images on wall. It's the most complete exhibition I have to date. Big paintings, sculpture, installations, mapping...
I involved all the mediums I love.”
While his work sometimes looks as if it’s been designed on a computer and then printed out, it is actually hand-crafted with pencils, pens and brushes. His love for detail and precision is clearly visible, no matter whether we look at murals several metres high or letters and drawings as small as bottle caps. The fact that his work originates in the analogue world makes it quite interesting to look at his interaction with social media. While many artists stay away from an online social media presence, Rylsee feeds an impressive 103k followers with his letters on Instagram.
The contrast between the manual labour behind his pieces and our digital lives has also been made visible in his most recent exhibition at Urban Spree Berlin . The body of work exhibited represented the fragmented reality of the digital world, the high level of (mis-)communication, our necessity for constant availability and - in turn - our confusion by it. Visualised mainly by distorted letters and slightly amended everyday objects, the exhibition held a large variety of pieces ranging from small format drawings on paper to big installations. When we asked if he always knows what size the pieces are going to end up in, Cyril said:
“I actually don’t always know what to final material will be. But what I know is that it always starts in my sketchbook. :) For example in my current exhibition, there is a giant alarm clock stating: NO:PE The sculpture is 170x110x90cm, but it initially was a mini drawing in my sketchbook. I liked it so I decided to make big for this show.”
Sketchbooks are an important object in Cyril’s life; he seems to be drawing constantly. This makes the recent release of his book How to Play with Letters with MOLESKINE even more exciting. Who’d be a better publisher if not the legendary notebook producer?
“This book is marking a beautiful watershed in my artistic career. My book called -how to play with letters- is a collection of works from the past 5 years. It was really amazing to have a team to work with towards a common goal. In the end, How to play with letters- has 112 full color pages with funny anecdotes about my work and vision of the world of design/typography/art. I'm really proud of this book.”
Funny anecdotes are also something that the artist translates into wearable art pieces. Together with his brother Yann he runs the fashion label SNEEER. A lot of the designs are based on his drawings.
“I was always into clothing in general, I'm not considering myself a fashion designer at all tho. I just like to create things I would be happy to wear. And it happens that other people feel connected to it as well.”
SNEEER’s clothing line mainly consists of t-shirts and hoodies, clearly inspired by an urban lifestyle. Cyril has thereby managed to take street art into the galleries and back out on the streets again, in form of jumpers and caps.
“We can do whatever we like because it's ours. :) When I work for companies or brands, there's always things that I can't really explore, whereas with SNEEER, I'm free to do whatever I find funny or ‘cool’.”
And it’s not like the label is just merchandise for the Rylsee brand. SNEEER has a different vision and a different message. It’s about sharing the same sense of humour and about a connection between like-minded people. This becomes clear when we look at their new collaboration series launched in spring: simultaneously to the release of Australian rock’n’roll band Furious Few’s self-titled debut album, SNEEER had a black tee ready reading Lessons Delivered - a line from Furious Few's first single Purity Gone (which you can listen to here). The cooperation was accompanied by a video shot and produced by experimental film maker Christiania Krueger, who’s also part of the URBAN SPREE family.
The designs for the collaboration series are created especially for and with each artist, hand-drawn by Cyril before being hand-printed or sewed onto the fabric. The project represents how heavily music influences his work, he says. The second collaboration was released in September, accompanying the release of Argentinean producer Catnapp’s EP Back: This time we get caps with a sewed-on cat.
“Currently we have made a series with the Australian band Furious Few, and with the Argentinean producer Catnapp. We worked together on developing a product that we would be proud of. This ongoing project of collaboration is really exciting and challenging for me.”
So that’s Cyril in a nutshell. His year’s been pretty busy and exciting, so we were glad to hear that he’s planning on taking it easy for the rest of the year.
“2016 & 2017 have been quite busy indeed, my book with Moleskine, this big solo exhibition and on top of this I became father of a tiny girl in January I think I'll keep it chill a bit. I'm currently in the Swiss Alps for a street art festival called VISION ART FESTIVAL where I'm painting a 4 story building mural. After that, I'm going to Chile for 2 months with my wife and girl to relax a bit. (And paint too.)”
But who knows… He’s probably got something else in the pipeline already. Until then make sure to drop by at Urban Spree Berlin to have a look at some of his posters and a copy of his book How to Play with Letters in the book shop.
Like RYLSEE on FACEBOOK
Like FURIOUS FEW on FACEBOOK - they’re on tour in October!
Follow CHRISTIANIA KRUEGER on INSTAGRAM and have a look at his projects on VIMEO
Like CATNAPP on FACEBOOK and follow her on INSTAGRAM