Thierry Noir (b.1958, Lyon, France) and came to Berlin in January 1982. The artist was credited as being the first artist to paint on the Berlin Wall – that happened on the 1984. Noir’s objective was to perform one real revolutionary act: To paint the Berlin wall, to transform it, to make it ridiculous, and to help destroy it prempting its ultimate fall in 1989. Noir covered the Berlin Wall, more than 3 metres high, with bright, vivid colours, aiming not to embellish the wall but to demystify it. Noir’s iconic, bright and seemingly innocent works painted on this deadly border symbolised a sole act of defiance and a lone voice of freedom.
Painting on the wall was absolutely forbidden; it was built 3 metres beyond the official border so the east-German soldiers were able to arrest any person standing near it. Noir had to paint as quickly as possible, using the recipe of ‘two ideas, three colours’ as a celebration of the ‘eternal youth’. Despite their bright colours and playful nature, the murals left a lingering sense of melancholy: As Noir says, “I did nothing but react to its sadness”.
Noir’s practice has a strong emphasis on line and aims to simplify forms to their most basic elements. This simplicity reflected the necessity of painting quickly outdoors in a hazardous environment with very real risks to his personal safety. Noir reacted to his environment and his monsters are a metaphor for the Wall itself, each one relating to his experiences or feelings of what he calls a ‘killing machine’.