Organized from Wednesday to Sunday in Bayonne, the festival born in 2017 has offered a prelude inland, through several artistic residences since the beginning of the month.

In Isturits, a village of 500 inhabitants a little less than an hour from Bayonne, the American John Wentz, who landed in San Francisco, thus got down to work on a huge fresco, produced in a week at the entrance to the village on a pediment, Basque pelota game wall, the local sport.

Every day, the inhabitants massed in the neighboring field, overlooking the artist and his work, to observe its progress. “Thanks to him, the village will no longer be quite the same”, smiles the mayor, Gilles Camou, who had proposed “his” wall to the festival to give a “new face” to the town.

From now on, the pediment features the image of a traditional dancer from the region. “When I arrived, the locals told me a lot about the history of the Basque Country and the traditions. It seemed selfish to me to stick a personal idea on this wall, so I rethought the project”, says the AFP John Wentz getting off the basket he uses to work.

“I had wanted to do this for two years, since the day I took a train to go to Germany. Looking at the countryside outside, I said to myself that I wanted to paint in this kind of landscape” , adds the American artist.

– “Open-air museum” –

Urban art that has become rural owes a lot to the Internet, explains Alban Morlot, creator of the Bayonne festival through the Spacejunk gallery and in charge of visual arts within the urban community of the Basque Country, which includes 158 municipalities.

“Today, we can broadcast the images of his works all over the world, regardless of whether we are in a big city, and that corresponds to the wish of artists to have more freedom and more space”, underlines the manager.

Offering street art in rural areas was even “the initial spirit of the festival, but we started with the urban setting of Bayonne, which is easier”, before extending the event, adds Mr. Morlot, attached to the fact that the population does not have to “travel miles” to access art.

For this sixth edition of Viewpoints, a dozen new works will join the “open-air museum” of Bayonne, in addition to those produced in the hinterland by the end of the week.

Guest artists include the Belgian Adèle Renault, known for the pigeons she has painted in many European cities; the Spaniard Escif, whose work adorns a wall of the Palais de Tokyo in Paris; and Frenchman Nelio, whose colorful, geometric frescoes adorn facades around the world.

All have carte blanche on a wall made available to them in different areas of the city. “These are plural aesthetics, which lead us to see the city differently”, welcomes the mayor of Bayonne, Jean-René Etchegaray, who chairs the urban community.

More than 80 works will have been produced since 2017. A number that increasingly raises the question of their conservation. Two schools clash.

“We are technically able to preserve them by applying a varnish, as some artists would like. Others rather start from the principle that urban art is ephemeral by definition and that a work can be decrepit”, estimates Alban Morlot.