The springtime wall jams have begun! And random Saturdays or Sundays are usually perfect days to schedule an event in many cities – since most people have time off during that time, depending on their work schedule. If an artist is lucky enough to have a job these days…
An informally organized event like this provides an opportunity to explore and create alongside peers, converse and discuss ideas and techniques, and hang out with visitors who stop by saying hello.
“We thought it was a good idea that we could notify each time any of us was going to paint,” says Spanish artist Jaume Montserrat, “in case someone else wanted to accompany them and have a good time doing what we like so much.”
He says he and his buddies have a WhatsApp group to keep each other apprised of their street art and mural projects. For this particular Sunday a couple of weeks ago, it was as simple as reaching out via text to fellow artist Núria Farré, he tells us.
“I wrote to her asking if she would like to do it on one of Wallspot’s legal walls, and when we found a date that suited us, we decided to invite some friends.”
BSA contributor and photographer Fer Acala was there in Barcelona to capture the action and the art, and we’re pleased to share his shots of the artists at work and the days’ activities.
Our thanks to Fer Alcala for sharing his excellent photos with us and BSA readers. Artists include: Irene Valiente (@valiente_creations) Sigrid Amores (@sigridamores) Pablo Navas (@pabl0navas) Antón G, Seoane (@antonseoane) Juanjo Sáez (@juanjo_saez) Núrria Farré (@nuriafarreabejon) Maria Cuellar (@mariacuellar.m) Lidia Martinez (@lidia.mpakkete) Rabassa (@israbassa) Jaume Montserrat (@jaumemontserrat)
International Women’s Day is only controversial for those who feel threatened by the idea of equality and freedom.
Perhaps that’s why, according to current statistics, women continue to fight and protest against the gender wage gap in Spain, as well as against violence against women. The national female unemployment rate is 17.4%, compared to 13.8% for men.
Elsewhere in Barcelona, strident activist painters created new murals in Tres Chimeneas Park to celebrate International Women’s Day this past weekend. We’re pleased to share with you a selection of the murals painted for the occasion courtesy of BSA contributor Lluis Olive Bulbena.
In the US, families of military veterans say, “Freedom isn’t free.” It refers to the enormous amount of sacrifice people have to make – military and civilians alike – to guarantee that societies provide a fulsome measure of freedom and autonomy to their citizens. Likewise, free speech has to be fought for periodically to ensure that people have it – because it can be so swiftly taken away if we are not vigilant.
In our third installment of the murals painted in February in Barcelona, Spain, we are reminded that historically, the artist is often one of an oppressive government’s targets. It is somewhat sequential, the positions and stations in society who gradually are targeted for slurring and silencing. Academics, clergy, the press – a building degradation of respect for institutions and trust across the board.
These artists express their opinions in defiance of silencing because, inherently, they fight for everyone’s right to freedom of speech and expression, regardless of our comfort or discomfort with the ideas expressed. Because they must.
It is notable when an organized gang of aerosol-wielding vandals protests your protest against censorship with censorship.
It’s also odious.
Everyone knows that it is normal for graffiti writers and street artists to expect that their ephemeral work may be buffed by a municipality or crossed out by a rival painter. This is a different matter entirely.
This is our 2nd time to bring you this story from a paint jam in Barcelona’s Plaza de las Tres Chimeneas where a collection of artists gathered to paint works addressing what they see as an unjust attack on the freedom of a citizen to express opinions in lyrics and writings. Taken together, these works are a passionate rejection of censorship and a colorful act of free speech by a community.
It made international news last month when Pablo Hasel, a Spanish rapper/singer/artist/musician from this city, was imprisoned under a Supreme Court ruling, which found his lyrics about King Emeritus Juan Carlos De Borbon to be offensive.
Artist Roc Blackblock was surrounded by a tight semi-circle of scrutinizing journalists and citizens as he painted. This was his second mural since his first had been immediately censored and ordered removed at the action in mid-February by an NCNeta brigade who a Barcelona Urban Guard escorted. He didn’t appear to mind the pressure.
Because there have been demonstrations in various cities and because modern media drools over scenes of destruction and violence, it’s easy to forget the many peaceful artists who paint their opinions, says documentary photographer Fernando Alcalá, who shares his work here.
“I think it’s important to keep speaking about the artistic actions when, after days of riots and looting, the media has forgotten about freedom of speech, and they just talk about burnt trash cans,” he says.
We’re happy that he captured these before they were destroyed by ‘Union de Brigadas,’ who recorded their censorious actions proudly and shared them on Twitter and YouTube.
I think it’s important to keep speaking about the artistic actions when, after days of riots and looting, the media has forgotten about freedom of speech and they just talk about burnt trash cans.”
Freedom of expression is foundational in a democracy. Without it, it is not difficult for a culture to descend into authoritarianism, fascism, and dictatorship. By many standards, Spain’s democracy is still young, with a Parliamentary Monarchy since 1978. So it is curious and alarming to hear that this EU country has been silencing free speech in the last few years.
In 2018, we reported here on an initiative undertaken by more than two dozen artists from Spain called #nocallarem, a visual and musical protest inside a former prison to speak out against the Spanish Supreme Court ruling against the rights of an artist, a rapper, Pablo Hasel. In lyrics about the then-King Juan Carlos De Borbon deemed offensive, the young musician violated recently passed laws forbidding such speech.
Now, on the occasion of Mr. Hasel preparing to report to the authorities to begin serving his prison sentence, an outdoor art exhibition this month at Parque de las Tres Chimeneas (Three Chimneys Park) in Barcelona, a collection of artists gathered to paint works addressing what they see as an unjust attack on the freedom of a citizen and artist to express opinions in lyrics and writings. As you might expect at a graffiti/mural jam it was a celebratory Saturday of painting, music, dogs, kids, and the occasional soccer (fútbol) scrimmage.
But as soon as the mural paintings were up, the trouble began as well, according to artists and free-speech activists on the scene. “Less than twenty-four hours after doing their artistic actions, an NCNeta brigade escorted by a Barcelona Urban Guard van censored one of the works, covering it fully with paint,” says journalist and activist Audrey García in a Facebook posting.
The mural by artist Roc Blackblock featured the former king surrounded by words the rapper had used to describe him, including thief. Aside from being insulting to a public figure and calling out the rapper’s case, it is difficult for locals to understand why it was buffed.
García and others contend that the brazen act was evidence of an increasing level of silencing that targets some members of society for their speech but not others. “The city administration carried out a new act of censorship about our works, making our protest and denouncement of freedom of expression even more evident and necessary, adding a new case to the already too long, outrageous and constant violation of our rights and freedoms as creators and consequently of all society,” she says.
Eventually, the city apologized and offered solutions for restoring the piece, but the movement to free Mr. Hasel and protect free expression continues. About 15 artists participated in the painting jam, including Roc Blackblock, Antón Seoane, El Rughi, Magia Trece, Doctor Toy, El Edu, Galleta María, Kader, Maga, Owen, Reskate, Chamo San, Sigrid Amores, Tres Voltes Rebel, Arte Porvo y Elna Or, among others.
Since then, more demonstrations have taken place in the streets of Barcelona, Valencia, Lérida, and Hasel’s hometown of Segrià to protest his imprisonment. According to the BBC, “More than 200 artists, including film director Pedro Almodóvar and Hollywood star Javier Bardem, have signed a petition against Hasel’s jail term, while Amnesty International described his arrest as terrible news for freedom of expression in Spain.”
Our special thanks to photographer Fer Alcalá for sharing his fine work with BSA readers here.
Graffiti and street art are cyclical in many ways – reflective of society, urban planning, politics, current events, demographics… Currently the city of Barcelona is pushing hard on cleansing itself of the wild graffiti and street art that brought it so many tourists 15 years ago.
With the pendulum of real estate development and gentrification swinging from aesthetic chaos to antiseptic order, street artists are changing tactics as well, opting for smaller pieces that are quickly and surreptitiously installed.
“The Raval / Ciutat Vella neighborhood used to have 4 or 5 ‘orchards,’” says photographer Lluis Olive-Bulbena, using a slang term to describe empty areas between blocks where freelance painters like to adorn abandoned walls. “Nowadays there are only one or two.”
We’re pleased to introduce a number of artists specializing in smaller works; artists with names like BL2A, Karma, and Radical Playground. Each has their own style and each are part of a new wave using a smaller canvas, sometimes ingeniously; the sticker, the stencil, paste-ups, even ceramic – on the streets of Barcelona.
News reports are telling a story about an uptick in domestic violence because families are confined in closed quarters for long periods of time during the COVID-19 lock-downs across the world. A tendency toward abusive behavior is further complicated by economic insecurity, lack of food, and generalized fear. There is help available, please see below for resources.
Anti-Violence Project: Specialized resources for LGBTQIA+ and HIV-positive survivors; 24/7 hotline at 212-714-1141
Crisis Text Line: 24/7 text chat line for individuals in crisis in the United States and Canada; text HOME to 741741
Recover from Financial Abuse
“Unfortunately, financial abuse occurs in 99% of all domestic abuse cases, and the effects can negatively impact survivors for years after they escape,” says Nina Humphry at Bankrate. Below is an article that focuses on “rebuilding finances after escaping an abusive relationship, providing tips on budgeting, building credit, and getting back into the workforce.”
Art in the streets around the world has been signaling the beginning of a new US presidential era, even as Trump continues to deny it.
Many, though not all, leaders from countries around the world have offered congratulations and words of praise and recognition to Joe Biden as the next president. In some cases artists have taken to the streets to express their support with their art – as in the case here by Barcelona-based TV Boy.
The pose recalls the poster for the movie Rocky V, which may be the number of times Biden ran for president before he finally won. We’ll have to confirm with our fact-checkers.
Political cartoons and murals sometimes overlap but rarely as impressively and with such frightening a warning as this new one from Juanjo Surace in Barcelona.
The skill and quality and powerful depiction all come together here from across the Atlantic Ocean, perhaps a clarion summation of how those outside the U.S. now see us and the current occupant of the White House.
The artist is professionally a painter, sculptor, and animation professor. He says he is self taught and that his deepest love for his craft is expressed when spray it on the street.
We continue to see a dissolving of previous tensions between the worlds of graffiti writing and mural artists and other disciplines of art-making as we travel around cities around the world. Artificial divisions have persisted, and indeed the lived experience of graff and street art and mural making are distinctly different in certain respects, but the piece is the piece, regardless of style, and each creator can be an ambassador with a message.
Our own philosophy is if art is going to have the transformative power that we believe it can have on all of our societies, families, and institutions we need to dissolve artificial divisions in the creative community as well – as they serve little constructive purpose. As art in the street usually reflects society at large, we have our own challenges with classism, sexism, and racism as well.
So it’s great to see the continuance of brotherhood and sisterhood at small neighborhood festivals like the 3rd Edition of the Kronos Art and Arts Santa Mònica here in an area of Barcelona during the third week of October. One core philosophy at this festival this year was to re-consider the future of art and its role by actively consulting kids in defining what art is, and what it could be.
“Be aware of the role of ARTIST and his work in our PRESENT, without
judging, without imposing criteria, with the sole conviction that what we are
creating is the prologue of the FUTURE in the ART”
During their ‘live painting’ events at 3 Chimney Plaza (Plaza de las 3
Xemeneies) it was the men and women, graffiti writers and street artists – all working
side by side. Part of a much larger group of events that included 70+ artists,
photography, sculpture, performance, music, video art, cinema, talks, and workshops,
these painters just did their thing and had a good time.
“Becoming cultural activists, taking the reins of how to express ourselves and about what to express ourselves through art; and by doing so becoming key pieces for the freedom of creation, we become aware as spectators, as thinkers, as artists, as a species. KRONOS ART BCN 2020 is a wager to the freedom of society through the freedom of the artist; free to catch everything that interests and surrounds them, without fear of being judged and without judging the protagonists of their artwork. Free to BE in all the aspects that make us human, thus turning the PRESENT into the prologue of a FUTURE world full of diversity.”
Our thanks to photographer Lluis Olive Bulbena for capturing a few of the artists at work at the plaza.
running! It’s 20 meters along this wall on the inner courtyard of
the Bac de Roda Housing Cooperative in Poblenou, a neighborhood of Barcelona,
The new stop-action installation is meant to freeze for a moment the emotions and sensations that can occur during migration – which many people are forced today to do all over the world, whether they are escaping from hardship, fear, war, environmental extremes, or decimated economies.
Vázquez wants us to think about the distance that people run, and how crossing
a simple national boundary can be the difference between life and death. If you
studied Western art history, these figures may also call to mind warriors and
heroes of so-called classical antiquity.
says he has captured “through a sequence of movements, different snapshots
which reflect a mosaic of unique expressions.” This, he says, is “a figure who
symbolically represents all who they have made a migratory journey risking
Cadiz, now living in Barcelona, Vázquez is participating in the fourth edition
of MURAL / LOCAL, an artistic action that annually renews this wall. He would
like to thank his subject Mourad as well as his fellow artist Magda Cwik, who
assisted him in hanging the new installation. Our thanks go to photographer Lluis
Olive Bulbena, who shares his photos of this new work with BSA readers.
Today we go
to Barcelona in Spain, where the country held a memorial ceremony July 16 to
honor more than 28,000 people who have died there from COVID-19. This new mural
contemplates what it means to be connected, and considers what it takes to have
the architectural barriers as metaphor for the obstacles to connection, artists
Josep Fernandez Margalef and Rice created ‘Esperança’ (Hope) in the Granollers area of Barcelona.
“Even at a distance, hope
acts as a power that can bring us closer to each other, helping us to reach tomorrow. We honor connections, longing,
and a feeling greater than ourselves when we are alone; love, friendship, and
care all belong in this realm of being,” say the artists.