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.
“Have you taken down the names for your paper yet?” she asked me. “Stay by my side and I will dictate them to you: the Count and Countess of Caralt, the Marquess of Palmerola, the Count of Fígols, the Marquess of Alella, the …
~ A Barcelona Heiress, By Sergio Vila-Sanjuán
In the decade before the Spanish Civil War, Barcelona was on the verge of boiling over, and perhaps this castle in the Pyrenees mountains to the south was at its height of glory thanks to workers in its coal mines. The Count of Figols and his family enjoyed the view from the tower while the miners, some as young as 14 years old, kept toiling about 13 kilometers away – until they revolted in 1932.
“The mining company, the greater part of which was owned by Liverpool-born José Enrique de Olano y Loyzaga, First Count of Figols, prohibited union organization and paid its workforce in tokens redeemable only in the company stores.”
Revolution and the State: Anarchism in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939, by Danny Evans.
Today you can hashtag Figols (#figols) on social media and you can see the tower (Torre del Compte de Fígols) and wander through the ruins of the castle (Castillo Conde de Fígols) – and discover new graffiti pieces and paintings throughout the rooms. That’s what photographer Lluis Olive Bulbena did last week when he went to check out some fresh stuff he heard was painted here about 120 km north of Barcelona. We thank him for sharing his images with BSA readers from the castle of the Count of Figols.
Typically you may expect to be praying the novena and asking God for absolution of your dastardly sins here in this sprawling compound called The Konvent near Barcelona. While no one would stop you today, you may also wish to check out a number of new installations throughout the many buildings by Street Artists.
The Roman Catholic former convent hosted 50 or so artists over the last couple of years to transform the space, perhaps to reinterpret its original charge in a modern light, perhaps just to ready the compound for commercial, cultural, and community pursuits of the owners.
Certainly the decaying spaces and austere aesthetic is inviting, calming, possibly frightening, depending on your associations. Now they are home for music, dance, theatre, film festivals, and artist residencies – often offered only in Catalan but some also in European Spanish.
As you walk through the spaces you are welcomed by these works by artists, many of them at one time or another categorized as Street Artists, whose voices now usher in a new era of contemplation and perhaps internal exploration.
Our thanks to photogapher and BSA contributor Lluis Olive Bulbena for sharing these images from El Konvent.
For more information about El Konvent please Click HERE
This past Sunday, February 17 at La Plaza de las Tres Chimeneas ( Three Smokestacks Square) in Barcelona an international group of artists participated in the first “No Borders Festival.”
Called “Murs Contra el Murs”, which is Catalan for “Walls Against Walls”, the multi-mural festival intends to highlight the ongoing humanitarian crises of refugees and immigrants at international borders around the world.
Graffiti artists, Street Artists, painters, and illustrators came together to create new murals to speak to the issue and encourage debate and conversation. Artists included Btoy, Carles G.O’D, Dixon, Eledu, Enric Sant, Javier Arribas, Juanjo Surace, Julieta XLF, Kenor, Kram, Pincho, Roc Blackblock, Ruina, Saturno, Simón Vázquez, Tutzo, and Wati Bacán, among others.
BORDERS is a grassroots organization that was created to raise awareness about
the refugees, to demand their acceptance, and to raise funds through debates,
art and documentaries.
They say they want to raise the uncomfortable questions – which will undoubtedly lead to uncomfortable answers as well. To paraphrase the text on their website:
“Do we settle for a society that violates its moral and legal obligations to refugees? A refugee is a person who flees – Flees because he is on the losing side. Because he thinks, feels or prays differently than those who point him with their weapons.”
usual, artists are bringing these matters to the street for the vox populi to
Our sincere thanks to photographer Lluís Olive for sharing his shots of the walls with BSA readers.
For more information on the festival running through March 3rd that includes documentaries, panel discussions, workshops, and prints, please go to https://noborders.es/ and follow @nobordersrefugees on Instagram
“It is in the knowledge of the genuine conditions of our lives that we must draw our strength to live and our reasons for living.”
French existentialist, feminist, and intellectual Simone de Beauvoir saw the hell created by us and held us accountable to be performative agents in actively transcending the facts of our existence. Since April three artists have been depicting that hell on the exterior wall of Torrent de les Bruixes Institute in Santa Coloma de Gramenet, and they give Ms. De Beauvoir heroic role, triumphal; rising untouched and ebullient above the pit of vipers, monsters, dragons and fantastical embodiments of evils.
They call it “La Clausura Del Infierno”, roughly translated as “The Closing of Hell”. Perhaps it could be called “The Opening of Hell” as well.
Because we know you love to see the process as well as the final piece, here is a prime example of how the artists conceive the beginning of a mural by codifying colors. It is impressive how artists Sebastien Waknine, Simón Vázquez, and Juanjo Surace decided to sketch the forms and composition on the wall, using colors and shapes as code.
Our special thanks to photographer Lluís Olivé Bulbena, who shares these images with BSA readers.
Images today from La Nau Bostik, an artist run complex in Barcelona that aims to be sustainable, inspirational, and a breathing living cultural oasis. By most accounts, it succeeds wildly.
Murals often accompany citizen-run cultural initiatives and art spaces like these, frequently to great effect. The spaces are raw and neglected and needs a sense of life and color; new narratives to fill the space with interactions and hopefully inspire collaboration.
Xavier Basiana and his cultural compatriots have established a community cultural and intellectual place in a settlement of ex-industrial warehouses over the last decade along the train tracks in La Sagrera, and the once barren soil now sprouts an ever growing crop of portraits, characters, fantasies, political and social messages.
In cities that we have the opportunity to visit we occasionally get to see these vibrant spaces like La Nau Bostik, now a cultural fixture that draws thousands throughout the year for a rich mix of programming and engagement. Surrounded by great organic works on the walls by fine artists and current or former Street Artists and graffiti writers, the environment seems to foster a re-generation of people-fueled ideas for progress, problem solving and dreaming.
Ivan Floro. Nau Bostik, Barcelona. (photo LluÍs Olivé Bulbena)
Without the synergistic effects of weaving all of these elements of education, celebration, theater, academic examination, civic engagement, the plastic arts, performance, labor, and commerce, these places may not be able to offer a safe place for free thought and internal exploration. As ever, it is the combined effect of a variety of talents that creates the greater sum. With so many factors and parties at play, maintaining a sense of balance is an ongoing goal.
Today we are happy to visit this arts space via the camera work of photographer Lluis Olive Bulbena, who we thank for sharing his images with BSA readers.