As the Northern Hemisphere is heading into autumn, we bring you two more blasts of summer’s rich jewel tones from central Gothenburg in Sweden. UK Muralist Sophie Mess favors pleasant domestically flowering botanicals and slices them up diagonally in a way you may associate with Berlin’s James Bullough’s portraits or Li-Hill’s sculptures. Decidedly more targeted to the House & Garden set, here Mess creates a decorative mural duo for tourists and shoppers in the courtyard of Magasinsgatan, commissioned by gallery/agency Artscape.
Sweden’s northernmost town center is in Kiruna, with a population of 23,000 or so, is far north of Swedish Lapland. Known for mining iron ore and landing inside the Artic Circle on the eastern shore of Lake Luossa, the 100+ year downtown is going to move soon because the mining operations are moving elsewhere. So are its heritage buildings.
This summer the town created a mural project to mark this benchmark, establishing Artscape 2022. It’s a “mural project based on the people of Kiruna’s collective memory,” they say, and six murals were created after artists conducted interviews, hundreds of stories, and anecdotes. Not only do these new murals respond directly to the environment they are created within, but they also function as a historical record of the town and its people.
Our thanks to photographer Jon Högman for sharing his images with BSA readers today, giving us all a sense of Artscape 2022.
Inspired by memories of the stunning nature surrounding Kiruna. Roberto’s mural was produced in collaboration with @konstmuseet.i.norr
‘A song of Unity: Diversity is beautiful’ by Colombian artist Gleo is inspired by a collected recent memory from the Kiruna music festival @pamojafestivalen. Refugees being welcomed by the local community through music and culture.
Amazing transformation of a grey metal stripe into a colorful cityscape! Isakov’s stained glass style makes perfect use of the space – it’s like the artwork was part of the original architecture 😊 Look closely and you’ll recognize some of Kiruna’s most famous landmarks!
’An Ending, A Beginning’ by Andreas Welin from Denmark in Tuollavaara, Kiruna. A very difficult wall to paint. Half the wall has a tin facade with corrugated sections.. 😖 So Andreas had to switch between different kinds of paint for the different surfaces. Torrential rain didn’t help either. But the end result is an amazing mural! Kiruna’s impending move is embodied in a beautiful way.
We asked children from Högalidsskolan to show us their Kiruna. The drawings they created were passed on to Vickan and became the inspiration for this magical piece. Vickan is from Boden, a town a few hours from Kiruna, and the kids’ imagery is most definitely a shared experience!
Taking her inspiration from the local memories that were collected – Kruella created a playful mural with loads of magical details! The artist managed to catch a breathtaking aurora display during her time in Kiruna, depicted in the mural.
There are a few walls you remember over the years, and this one in Borås, Sweden stays fresh in our minds from our trip there in 2015 for the NoLimit Festival (@nolimitboras), originated by the fantastic Shai Dahan, an artist who brought street artists from around the world to this beautiful city and established it as a destination for art. That year we were blown away by the multipaneled wingspan of a wildly rendered “sky dancer” as described by artist DALeast – poetic, stunning, and fearsome all at once, its ferocity was made nearly kinetic by the chopping of panels that separated the canvas into separate slices of sky.
Today we have images of a newly revisited image painted by DALeast on the very same slotted visage. “As far as I can remember, this could be the first time I painted the same wall twice,” he says about the new rendition on the city’s university library. So loved was his original, the city asked for him to come back and as part of the currently running Artscape Festival, the artist created a brand new version. He says that the new version of the mythic bird in flight has changed, perhaps reflecting his own personal changes.
“I decided to create a continuing version of the same sky dancer that’s soaring up and transforming through two stills,” he says. “The image changes through time as well as the artist. Although it appears that I haven’t done as much external work in recent years, I sense that by not doing much, I am actually doing a lot for change. At least the old habit is peeling off. While this new piece continues to call for the openness that sparked a decade ago, the gap between subject and object is becoming softer and blurrier; edges are merging into one another. The elements keep transforming and dancing through the space, becoming the space.”
Scandinavia is taking their mural festivals seriously thanks to buoyant economies, arts programming support, and a growing global appreciation for art in the streets in general. Included in the list of recent festivals are Denmark’s Galore(Copenhagen) and We Aart (Aalborg) and Sweden’s Artscape (Malmö) as well as the more graffiti-inflected Örebro, Helsinki’s Arabia and of course the one-kilometer long graffiti/Street Art slaughter that accompanies the mammoth music festival Roskilde.
This month humbly began No Limit in the small city ofBorås, Sweden, and artist / curator Shai Dahan hopes to enliven the daily views for this population of 66,000 with his curated collection of international artists from street / graffiti / fine art backgrounds.
An artist and entrepreneur who moved here from New York three and a half years ago, Dahan has been rallying local building owners and government institutions to aid in his idea of mounting a show on walls in the city that emulates the success of such festivals elsewhere.
“I’ve been on quite a journey and accomplishing this project has been something I have been working on personally for over a year,” he says. With participation and funding from the city of Borås, No Limit this month invited and hosted artists from countries such as The Netherlands, Brasil, France, Italy, Germany, Poland, Spain and Sweden and included artists like Natalia Rak, ETAM Cru, Peeta, ECB, The London Police, Kobra, Ollio, Ekta, Carolina Falkholt, Issac Cordal and one of the earliest Street Art stencilists, Blek le Rat.
“And best of all, we had no bad weather. The day Natalia landed (she was the first to arrive) the sun came out, and it stayed out until the very last day,” says Dahan of the festival that he deemed “phenomenal” and included guided tours for over 200 people at a time.
“After everyone left, it began raining, ” he smiles.
For countries that have a so-called “zero tolerance” for illegal art or any kind like Sweden, mural festivals like these effectively circumvent the rigid approval process that typically characterizes public art projects and many make inroads into engaging public space with art in a new way that is emblematic of a vibrant global movement. It may be a tenuous line to walk, but more cities seem willing to embrace this swing of the pendulum with art in the streets.