CULTURE At just 26 years, Alec is a well known street artist. A native New Yorker, he wanders from town to town and painted both paintings in art galleries as walls at 4am. His spray paint is his accessory, Made in Casablanca went to meet him, for whom art is all about sharing, adrenaline and humorous.
Made in Casablanca: Why Casablanca, now?
Alec Monopoly: My best friend Rashid, who is also my manager, is in Casablanca. We were here recently and we were introduced to the people of Gallery 38. I love Morocco, I think it is a beautiful country. I thought it was a good excuse to come to this beautiful country and experience something new. Moroccans have yet to discover this kind of art here, so I really hope my work inspires.
Made in Casablanca: Is that way you have added a ‘fez’ to the head of the Monopoly guy, to add a touch of Morocco to your work?
Alec Monopoly: Exactly, I want people to feel attached to my work; I want them to join in. The character of Monopoly is interesting in this sense, since almost everyone has played the game.
Made in Casablanca: You’re a city man, aren’t you?
Alec Monopoly: I need the city, its noise, the energy, all this inspires me, but right now its good to pause for the holidays.
Made in Casablanca: Similarities between Casablanca and New York?
Alec Monopoly: Wherever I go in the world, I find myself comparing to New York City. For example when I’m with Rachid, on the way to the workshop, it’s like we are on our way to Harlem. Certain routes are very similar to those of New York, in my mind.
Made in Casablanca: I read that you painted ‘spots’ quite high in Beverly Hills, have you spotted any here?
Alec Monopoly: In the world of graffiti they call them ‘heaven spots’, because they are very high. They are made because there is more available wall space and they last longer, here there are so many empty walls, there’s no need to climb so high.
Made in Casablanca: You know a little Moroccan culture, our artists, our icons, if you could paint one of our icons, who would it be?
Alec Monopoly: I have someone in mind, but I can’t say, I’m expecting the green light on that one...
Made in Casablanca: When you moved from New York to Los Angeles, did you feel that your art evolved?
Alec Monopoly: I grew up in New York and the graffiti inspired me first. When I moved to LA, graffiti became street art. I started using characters like the Monopoly man, I found myself making street art. In New York, if you have a felt pen and spray paint and there are police cars nearby, it’s not a good idea to hang around. In LA, you have more time to think about what you want to do, it was at that moment that I became a street artist, but when I return to New York I apply that same title too!
Made in Casablanca: How do you explain why so many street artists are now painting in art galleries?
Alec Monopoly: It is important to have exposure in an art gallery and paint on canvas. When we paint on the street and people like our work, it’s selfish not to share it with them, painting in the street also means you never know how long it will last; the wall could be re-painted, even destroyed. It’s like leaving a trace in the history of art, even when I’m not around to paint the streets anymore, my work would still survive me.
Thank you to Alec, for taking the time out for this interview with us. Do not miss his exhibition at Gallery 38, made especially for his first trip to Casablanca, all made here!
Text Zara Kadiri
Photo Fouad Maazouz
Translation Karen Athwal