It was in 1982 in Tours, where he had just been appointed English teacher, that Jean-François Perroy, his real name, produced his first wild stencil with an aerosol spray.

“I didn’t know anyone… I threw my business card on the walls in the form of a grimacing and somewhat punk self-portrait taken from a photo booth… At every street corner, it was a way of ‘going to meet people…’, tells the artist to AFP, on the sidelines of this retrospective at the invitation of the Mathgoth gallery.

Inspired by a multitude of anonymous people, his stencils also devote music stars, his other passion: Elvis Presley, Jimy Hendrix or Nina Simone.

In 2011, Paris offered him a huge wall a stone’s throw from the Center Pompidou, at the foot of the Stravinsky Fountain. Jef Aérosol created one of the largest stencils in the world there, with an area of ​​350 m2.

In very close-up, his self-portrait with wide eyes doing “chuuuttt!”, invites passers-by to listen to “unexpected noises of the urban jungle like street musicians or the sound of the heels of young ladies in the spring…”.

“Stenciling has this ability to make portraits look realistic, almost alive. My most interesting job is the next one. My favorite city is the next one. The day I look forward to is tomorrow !”, adds Jef Aérosol, 65 years old.

– “Aesthetics of chaos” –

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of its first stencil, the Mathgoth gallery is offering an extraordinary exhibition until November 5 on two “raw concrete” sites to illustrate “urban chaos”.

Accompanied by the sounds of the city (screeching tires, police sirens, etc.), an installation brings together some 200 life-size silhouettes of people, as many stencils posted since 1982 in many cities.

“It’s an example of the urban jungle that inspires me. We are between the vacant lot of Brooklyn, squats and the streets of Paris or elsewhere…” explains Jef Aérosol. “This urban jungle, I love it and I hate it. It spurred me on at the start. We weren’t very far from this nihilistic era that was the punk years”.

“There is an aesthetic of chaos… As time passes, I remain attached to the city but I will no longer be able to live there”, he adds.

On a second site, the visitor discovers the artist’s studio work with numerous works on canvas reviewing his other favorite subjects, including children.

“More poetic than political, Jef Aérosol’s message is above all humanist. The emotion that passes through the eyes of his characters reflects the artist’s gaze on the era”, underlines Mathilde Jourdain, co-founder of Mathgoth Gallery.

Free access, this retrospective is reserved for schoolchildren every morning.