Didier Chamizo

Didier Chamizo (French b.1951)

Didier Chamizo's journey, born in Cahors (Lot) in 1951 and regarded as one of the pioneers of street art, underscores the transformative power of access to culture during incarceration.

Chamizo spent a total of 17 years in prison during the 1970s and 1980s for his involvement in bank robberies and arms trafficking. Despite his imprisonment, he continued to paint, having already gained recognition as an artist after attending evening classes at the School of Fine Arts in Saint-Etienne. His artwork, created behind bars, garnered acclaim from both the public and renowned artists, including Gérard Garouste and Alain-Dominique Perrin, President of the Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art. While incarcerated, Chamizo dedicated himself to promoting art: he served as editor-in-chief of a prison magazine, established a painting workshop, created a 30-meter mural, and engaged with fellow inmates.

Released in 1991 but partially banned from certain territories, he was eventually pardoned by President François Mitterrand. 

Since his release, Chamizo has pursued an international career, exhibiting alongside notable artists such as Matta, Combas, César, Arman, Nikki de Saint-Phalle, Tinguely, and Jeff Koons. He continues to hold exhibitions in various French cities, including his hometown, and is involved in humanitarian and educational initiatives focusing on issues like AIDS, human rights, and projects in Africa and Indonesia.

Chamizo also speaks at conferences on the prison system, participating in debates organized by the Ministry of Justice and engaging directly with inmates to share his experiences and insights.