Barcelona, Spain has begun
the process of re-opening the city from the confines of Covid-19. Lluis Olive,
a frequent BSA collaborator tells us that phase I of re-opening includes bars
and restaurants but only at 50% of their capacity. Stores under 400 square
meters are also allowed to re-open. Groups up to 15 individuals are permitted
to gather in public as well. For him this is a welcome relief for much needed
And what does a street art
fan and photographer do when you let him outside after weeks stuck in his home?
That’s right, he captures the voice of the artists in the public sphere.
Here Mr. Olive shares a few
shots on the streets of Barcelona – artists’ view on the pandemic.
So far the activity of traipsing through a town to discover new Street Art, graffiti, and murals will not put you at risk of contracting a virus.
So BSA Contributor Lluis Olive Bulbena recently took a brief trip to Cuenca, Spain and he stumbled into the Barrio San Anton.
He says that he didn’t think the offerings were bountiful but he did manage to send us a cache of new and old images from which we are very happy to share with you. The majority here are figurative, full of character, almost speaking to you.
man of leisure these days, BSA contributor Lluis Olive-Bulbena took a three day
trip to Valencia, Spain to participate in the festivities of El dia del
El Cabanyal is a 333 acre (134 hectares) neighborhood in the old part of the city by the Mediterranean Sea, backed by a series of sandy beaches and a palm treed promenade. Its name is derived by the complex of barracks along the shore where the fishermen used to live when the town was purely a fishing village.
With the passage of time and change of the Spanish economy, El Cabanyal caught the eye of the leisure class who fill the streets with souvenir shops, cafes, and late-night clubs. The fishermen went someplace else. Not surprisingly perhaps, this tourist attraction is also a hot spot for Street Art – along with the greater city of Valencia for that matter.
We are told that many Street Artists have actually set-up studio here as well. Why not? The quality of life is nice, and the cost of living is much lower than in Barcelona and Madrid.
“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
Dave II is an aptly comedic illustrationist with the paint can, and it is hard to believe that such potent jocularity in the hidden spots of this abandoned building wouldn’t scare you on a dark night with a flashlight in hand.
All freshly painted this year, this bounty of boffo brutes and beasts are available for you to discover lurking around the corners of this undisclosed location in the area of Barcelona, Spain, thanks to the effort exploration and documentation of frequent BSA collaborator Lluis Olive Bulbena.
A few new marine-themed murals today from Benicarló in Valencia.
The realistic romantic stylings of many a muralist is a staple of current Urban Art Festivals right now, including a new one painted by the artist named El Niño de las pinturas, who mines fantasy and history, borrowing from memories, archetypes.
Completed in July during the annual patron saint festival, this year including the third edition of the urban art initiative Camden Bló, El Nino (from Granada) was joined by Xolaka, from Alcúdia (Valencia), the Argentinian Andrés Cobre, and illustrator César Cataldo.
It’s good to see the variety of styles being favored for local festivals and great to see artists getting opportunities to paint in the public sphere – even endorsed by the ministry of culture in this small town of 26,000 along the Mediterranean coast. Special thanks to photographer Lluis Olive Bulbena, who shares his photos with BSA readers.
Summertime spray-cations are as popular for the jet-setting aerosol explorer as much as your local graffiti and Street Artist. Grabbing your bicycle, taking a bus, or simply hiking with a backpack full of cans, many writers make a full day of it, or decide to camp out at the abandoned factory, hanging with friends and listening to music.
For a photographer of Street Art and murals, its possibly just as much entertainment – just ask BSA contributor, Lluis Olive Bulbena. On vacation with his wife and grandkids between Lyon and Clemont Ferrant (about 250 km south of Paris) he discovered a compound filled with new paintings on the commune of lurcy-Lévis. Informally known as Street Art City, the project is the brainchild of Gilles Iniesta and features hundreds of works on facades out in the open and others in hidden locations – including many who have made the pilgrimage to leave their marks on the walls or inside the dilapidated rooms of Hotel 128 (more about the hotel tomorrow). .Thanks to some good crops of visiting artists this summer, it looks like rural France has a good selection of painting styles to choose from this season.
Photographer Lluis Olive took a quick
trip recently to Madrid and he did what he loves to do; took photos of graffiti
and shared with us his new discoveries. This one caught our attention.
On Calle Embajadores he found
that a mural by the Madrid based artist Okuda was dissed with “Tu Street
Art Me Sube El Alquiler” or roughly, “Your Street Art Makes My Rent Go
And the writer has a point, going
to the heart of gentrification, and its connection to art.
It goes like this: Rotten,
abandoned, vermin infested and derelict neighborhoods with large industrial
buildings left in a state of decay are “discovered” by creatives who
make them their homes and studios. Artists work to make any environment
aesthetically pleasing, and that’s often their downfall.
Last night in a Brooklyn beer
garden a buddy told us that he had taken a complete toxic dump in the lot
behind his apartment and slowly transformed it into a beautiful garden. For his
efforts, he said, the landlord wanted to raise his rent because he now has an
attractive garden apartment that he should be charging a higher price for,
according to the market. Punished for success?
This aerosol defacement of Okuda’s
mural is a partially accurate statement– at least indirectly. But let’s not
scapegoat the artist as the one to blame for gentrification. That’s an
oversimplification of a complex cycle that no one appears able to diffuse
effectively because the incentivized real estate system is surely twisted in
There are a number of misconceptions by persons unfamiliar with history or the organic unregulated illegal and unrestricted practices of urban intervention regarding this. Anyone who has thoughtfully and carefully followed what artists have been doing without permission in public and abandoned spaces over the last few decades will know that mural festivals and other legal and/or commercial mural initiatives are just that. They are not displaying examples of Street Art.
The commodification of the original freewheeling practices of Street Artists and its visual vernacular in commercial campaigns, coupled with the proliferation of mural festivals that subtly or explicitly neuter the activist element that critiques politics and society, is regrettable – although predictable.
Like the one we feature here today, Street Artists don’t treat abandoned places simply as galleries to sell sneakers or prints; with murals slapped thoughtlessly check to jowl as selfie-backdrops and vehicles for “urban” brand logos. Here one can gain appreciation of the works as they are situated amidst the ruins; a self-granted residency or laboratory where your art placed in a new context alters everything around it.
Luckily, photographers who don’t mind working and who still long for the days of illegal urban art exploration and discovery continue the hunt for those oases that lie off-the-beaten-path.
“Ruin porn” is such a pithy simplification of this desire to document our forgotten places, to reconnect with and review our history, our lore, our systems of values. We prefer the term “urban exploration” for conquests such as these. Here artists find a new home and inspiration from the beauty of decay, taking residency in the ruins of what may have been splendor.
and BSA contributor Lluis Olive recently visited one such oasis called La Puda,
an abandoned mineral bath resort at the foot of the Montserrat Mountains near
Barcelona, Spain. Build in 1870 it closed its doors in 1958, and in the intervening
six decades the building has suffered from floods, thieves, fern and fauna.
Despite the western classical markings of strength an power like colonnades, entablature, and soaring arches, presently the place is in various states of ruin due to abandonment. Here Mr. Olive gives us a small photo essay of the work of one artist, SM172. These unsigned works remind us that not everyone is in it for the “fame” because we had to ask around to find who the author is. Luckily we have the smartest readers!
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
Celebrity, photorealism, illustration, fantasy, spectacle. These have always been part of popular art culture and have had an increasingly strong representation in Street Art culture, particularly in the last decade and a half as well.
Since the earliest reproductions of comic-book characters and voluptuous women by graff writers on subway cars in the 1970s, the chasm between your life and this art in public is short. From pin-up girls to stylized Dali’s to adorable animals, its the thrill of recognition, the associations you have with the figure’s back-story, and the familiarity with the visual nomenclature that makes it popular.
Audiences in Torreblanca, Spain have been responding strongly to these images for their local Citric Festival, and photographer Lluís Olivé Bulbena was on the street from last month’s events and he shares some of his shots with BSA readers. Our thanks to him.