Heisenberg is back: Manchester graffiti artist pays homage to Breaking Bad character in Northern Quarter

Exclusive by Danielle Wainwright

With many fans having waited all summer for the return of popular American crime drama Breaking Bad, there is one man who has taken his adoration of the show to new heights…and new walls.

Akse P.19 is a French graffiti artist living in Manchester whose first came to Britain as an exchange student at university.

His detailed portraits of stars such as Jack Nicholson, Anthony Hopkins and James Gandolfini dotted across Manchester have catapulted him as Manchester’s answer to Banksy.

Using only spray paint and no brushes, the talented Frenchman has used his skills to pay homage to the title character of the fifth eagerly-awaited series which hit screens last week in the UK.

MM chats exclusively to the graffiti artist who explains how his love for painting influenced his decision to focus his creativity on showcasing Hollywood’s best-known psychopaths.

“I got involved into Graffiti over 20 years ago through hip-hop and have been drawing ever since. Graffiti was the discipline which appealed to me naturally,” he said.

“I started a personal project ‘Psychopaths Project’ and I thought Heisenberg would be a good one to paint.

“I also read an article last year about a crystal meth lab that was found in the Northern Quarter off Tib Street in 2011. So I thought that I had to paint Heisenberg around there but could not find any legal walls.

“Three weeks ago, people from the Outhouse Project contacted me for two new walls to feature on Tib street! That was it, after nearly a year waiting to paint Heisenberg I finally got the perfect spot.”

However, even with hundreds of fans tweeting their admiration for the portrait, the artwork is only commissioned to be displayed for one month, unless the council decide to preserve it.

Sarah Fleece, 28, a shop assistant and admirer of Akse’s mural said: “This is bloody brilliant, It is good to showcase this kind of creativity to people living and visiting the area. He was able to make an ugly wall look so appealing.”

Support is also on hand from many businesses in the area who give Akse the ability to share his extraordinary talents with other art lovers.

“The only spot I have been painting this year in Manchester is the BlankSpace Gallery which the director let me paint on it as a favour. I’d really like to paint more walls in the city centre that would stay, not painted over after a few weeks or months,” he said.

“I have to buy and bring my own spray cans but a good spot in the city centre can give me great visibility.”

Excited Northern Quarter visitors have flocked to the spot to catch a glimpse of Heisenberg which Akse admits is still not finished.

The planning that went into the painting was marred by the rainy weather on Saturday but Akse, along with his artistic sidekick Jay Sharples, were able to finish most of the painting by the morning.

“Jay and I were supposed to paint this block on Saturday but the weather was bad so we postponed it to Sunday,” he said.

“I started the mural at 1pm yesterday and stopped at 8pm because it was late and I was running out of blue and dark grey anyway.

“I’ll come back next weekend to finish it (work on the hat and refine a few bits). I’d like to paint Hank as well, if possible next weekend but haven’t got a wall yet so it may not happen.”

With Akse busy drawing some of television’s most despicable and well-loved villains, he admits that his real artistic dream lies in painting Manchester’s most famous faces.

He said: “A project I have in mind for nearly 10 years would be to paint Mancunian icons in the city centre.

“Manchester has so many icons to be proud of! It would be the first city on this planet to have a local graffiti artist to pay tribute to its great people, but I’d need the support from the council to get walls, and also financial support to cover all expenses associated with such a big project.

“Hopefully it will happen one day. In the meantime I’ll carry on with my Psychopaths Project, canvases and Graffiti and street art festivals.”

To view more on Akse’s work visit his website here.

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