Zevs (pronounced Zeus, like the greek God) is a french street artist whose works provocatively denounce consumer culture through defacing the logos of luxury labels and recognisable brand logos such as Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Coca Cola and Macdonalds. By dripping paint over these logos, he creates a visual effect akin to the designs melting, or liquidating. His visual attack on these logos are a profound, subversive way of exposing the superficiality of brands and their power over consumers whose lives have become influenced by something that is merely an image. By melting these logos, Zevs brings our attention to the flatness of the images, drawing our focus away from the larger than life meanings of the brands and the cultural capital they represent. His critique is an attack on the cult surrounding consumer culture, and is a bid to get consumers to realise that these brands are mere constructions, pictures and designs by showing how easily the image can be destroyed.
In an interview, Zevs attributes his inspiration to seeing rain dripping down his window, obscuring and transforming the way the outside world looked. By applying paint to existing graphic designs or images, his work resides within the subculture of graffiti art, guerrilla art bombing and takes on elements of vandalism. In 2009, he was arrested for a piece of “action art” he produced on a Chanel logo in Hong Kong’s central district. He was detained by the police for dripping black paint on the logo on the facade of the Armani building, and damages were quoted at US $850,000.
Besides logos, Zevs also worked with images of models, dripping red paint on them to mimic blood streaming down their faces and bodies. By adding red paint, Zevs converts an image of desire, designed to encourage consumers to project themselves as the models into one of disturbing violence. Here Zev’s anti-capitalist statements also come to the fore through his critique of the consumerist machinations that perpetuate unhealthy, idealised standards of beauty. By altering familiar images, Zevs invites the viewer to encounter the capitalist world differently. His work reveals the cogs of the machine that ensures the continuing success of the big corporate cultures by promoting mindless consumerism.
Zevs’ work also takes on a critical political edge. When he liquidated the logos of big oil corporations like Total and Shell in his paintings, we see that his critical stance of corporate greed also extends to the world’s thirst for oil, the magnates that supply them and the impact of these activities on the environment. It has been noted that the oil companies he used in his work have sponsored big art corporations, and so his canvasses were the perfect medium for critique.
The genius of Zevs’ concept is that the simple layering of thin lines of paint using gravity as an aid manages to change the way the viewer perceives the state of the original image. In the same way, Zevs’ works are elegant but powerful ways to open the eyes of the world to the ills that he believes plague our societies.