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Saype's mission to create world's longest 'human chain'

French-Swiss landscape artist Saype has chosen the Mother City to host the ninth stage of his global ‘Beyond Walls’ project, in which he paints giant frescoes on grass. The world’s most famous land artist believes Cape Town represents a place where intolerance was overcome and a commitment to unity was made when Nelson Mandela was released from prison in 1990.

“South Africa is an integral part of the project because of its apartheid history. My work symbolises the breaking down of political and social barriers between communities,” he says.

The giant hand paintings that are the subject of Saype’s artwork will intertwine in three different parts of the city: Sea Point promenade, Philippi village and Langa.

Top Philipi, L Sea Point, R Langa

The first Beyond Walls installation was  unveiled on the Sea Point promenade on Monday January 25, as a precursor to one of Africa’s largest and most anticipated public-arts festivals, the International Public Art Festival (IPAF); a Baz-Art initiative which runs from February 10-14. The project is supported by Présence Suisse and the City of Cape Town. (MapMyway will keep you posted).

Beyond Walls Project

In 2019, Saype embarked on the Beyond Walls project to symbolically depict the largest human chain in the world. The project was envisioned to take several years, passing through more than 30 cities on a mission to invite people to help each other, show kindness and live tolerantly together.

The project launched in June 2019 at the foot of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, on the Champ de Mars, which was closed to the public for two weeks for the event for the first time in history. When completed, the large-scale artwork was inaugurated by the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, and was seen by 500-million people around the world.

The Artist

Guillaume Legros is a French-Swiss artist who creates monumental frescoes on grass (sometimes on the ground) and works under the alias Saype (a contraction of Say Peace).

Sea Point, Saype

(c) Saype

He invented an eco-responsible paint composed mainly of chalk and charcoal with which he creates his artworks in a way that doesn’t damage the environment. He is also the pioneer of an artistic movement which bridges street art and land art.

His approach and his innovative technique earned him a 2019 nomination in Forbes magazine, as one of the 30 most influential artists under the age of 30. His poetic, ephemeral works appear all over the world with the aim of impacting on the public’s consciousness and awareness of current issues while showing a deep respect for nature.

Inspired by the Arab Spring in 2012, when he was working as a nurse, Saype began to ask questions about the meaning of existence and to wonder about the place of various social groupings in society.

He started to paint black and white scenes in the subway but was discouraged by people’s reactions to graffiti. The easy availability of drones gave him access to aerial views and so he began planning large-scale works on grass. His works have adorned famous sites all over the world.

Video: Day 4 in Cape Town

Saype. Sea Point

It’s also worth taking the short walk to view the Save Our Seas Photo exhibition: Thomas Peschak on the Sea Point promenade