Life is Beautiful

“Willkommen!  Bienvenue!  Welcome!”

Life is Beautiful 255 x 350 mm My drawing of a wall I came across in the Marais district of Paris in 2012 containing street art by Zalez.

Life is Beautiful
255 x 350 mm
My drawing of a wall I came across in the Marais district of Paris in 2012 containing street art by Zalez.

“So, life is disappointing, forget it!  In here life is beautiful, the girls are beautiful, even the orchestra is beautiful”, sings the Master of Ceremonies in the musical “Cabaret”.

I wonder if Zalez had “Cabaret” in mind when he composed this street art which I spotted in the 4th arrondissement in October, 2012?  The outfits of “Cabaret” heroine, Sally Bowles, and the figure on the wall are similar.  The written words “life is beautiful” supports the theory.  I reacquainted myself with the film soundtrack while I did my drawing of wall, downpipe and street art.  The songs loop around in my head.

Here is the photo I took of Zalez' street art.

Here is the photo I took of Zalez’ street art.

Liza Minnelli as Sally Bowles in the film version of CABARET.

Liza Minnelli as Sally Bowles in the film version of CABARET.

In 1930s pre-Weinmar Germany (the setting for “Cabaret”) life was precarious – as it still is in this example of Zalez’ street art.   The female figure dangles perilously off the balloon.  Is she in control?   In what state will she land?  She looks determined and apprehensive simultaneously.  Maybe she will land in enemy territory?

Perhaps Zalez is referencing “Le Ballon rouge” (1956 Oscar-winning film) by Albert Lamorisse?  The film, set in grim Ménilmontant, tells the story of friendship between a boy and a magical red balloon.  In the finale, Lamorisse’s boy hero (played by his son, Pascal) is swept skywards, pulled by a magnificent team of multi-coloured balloons.

A still from A. Lamorisse's film "The Red Balloon".

A still from A. Lamorisse’s film “The Red Balloon”.

“Cabaret” and “Le Ballon rouge” each reveal a poignant and melancholy beauty sought out and gleaned from the grungy decay of their harsh environments; “Cabaret” in pre-war Berlin and “Le Ballon rouge” in post-war Paris.

So, what was Zalez thinking when he chose this piece of crumbling wall for the site of his artistic expression?  What was I thinking when I made a drawing of it?  In my case, I find truth in what is written and beauty in the stencil amid the decaying stone and rusty steel micro-scape.  “Even the orchestra is beautiful.”  Even the decay is beautiful.

“Aufwiedershen!  À bientôt!  Good night!”

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5 thoughts on “Life is Beautiful

  1. Anne Mccaughey

    Hello young Julie life certainly IS beautiful (if a tiny bit hot!) Love the little twisting figure! and the way you houour what is there on that decaying masonry It is an interesting diversion of yours this art from art. It has a definite feel of fin de siecle about it. xx

  2. juliepodstolski Post author

    Thank you Anne, when are we meeting for coffee by the way? There’s more where this came from. Another Paris street art theme on the drawing board – this time with real person in as well. It’s a case of truth being stranger than fiction…

  3. anna warren portfolio

    This image really sets up a lot of philosophical questions – which only come up as we stop and concentrate on this small corner of crumbly wall. There is a certain heroism to the little figure trusting her life to a red balloon. Its a great image, well chosen and framed. There are so many colours in what probably at first glance is a plain grey wall. You have enriched it.

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      Yes, she is a heroine, isn’t she, Anna. This really WAS a small piece of street art, easily missed. I have had to learn to enrich because my source photos are so often dull!


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