Festival d’Art Urbà Poliniza Dos may have an online presence that is difficult to access for the average street art fan. Still, the murals created for this ongoing urban art festival at the Polytechnic University of Valencia speak for themselves.
Brilliant productions and unusual investigations are created in and around the campus, engaging students and the local community to consider the role of art in the public sphere, its pertinence and meaning, and our relationship to it. Its direct and scholarly approach means that the public is invited, and artists are given an opportunity to share their practice with an appreciative and considered audience.
For more than a decade, this competition has selected from an open call for submissions and invited many of Spain’s curious thinkers, experimenters, interventionists, trouble-makers, street artists, and muralists to create new pieces for consideration, discussion, and appreciation. This program is where the work is done on the wall, inside the mind, and in the heart.
Recently photographer Luis Olive captured these murals from the 2021 and 2022 editions of PolinizaDos, and he shares what he found today with BSA readers.
Learn more about Poliniza Dos on their Instagram account.
The storied, busy, festive Spanish city of Valencia lies about an hour south of Fanzara, and the difference between the two could not be more pronounced. One of many across the country, this small town has been aging, shrinking in population, a shadow of its former charming self. Since the Fanzara Miau Mural Festival began about a decade ago, that direction has been slowly reversing, with an infusion of murals all over town.
The tourist trafficked has become notable, and that youthful demographic once again wanders through the winding streets, greeting old timers and taking photos of the murals and of course, posing for selfies in front of them.
The artworks are quite varied, with street artists now often formally trained studio professionals and those working in the advertising and commercial art industries. Thankfully the feeling remains free spirited, and many artists appear to await inspiration for their subject matter until arriving, preferring to be inspired by their new environment and creating something that initiates dialogue with their surroundings.
From the classically figurative to naïve, illustrative to photorealistic, the natural world to daily life, the common thread is thoughtful and considered work that is far from the hype of other street art festivals – and safely far from commercial gloss.
Today we have new photos from the 2022 edition by frequent contributor Lluis Olive Bulbena.
We were fortunate to have been invited to participate in the very first edition of Nuart Aberdeen back in the quaint days of 2017. We had a blast, and in the process fell in love with this city made of granite. The locals and our hosts made certain that we had all we needed to do our job and to enjoy the festival, the city, and of course its people. With a theme of reconnection, the new iteration of the festival last month brought fresh murals to city walls, perhaps revitalizing people’s connection to the built environment in a new way.
A franchising, of sorts, of the original Norwegian Nuart festival and its originators, this offshoot festival was so successful that year that city officials here funded another few editions. The events that engage the community feature live painting, a speaker program, walking tours, a pub fight/debate, and children’s art programming. All told it’s a warm example of street art culture mainstreaming itself right into the daily fabric of this prosperous Scottish city often called the “Oil Capital of Europe”
Photographer Martha Cooper was invited to participate in Nuart’s newest event and she shares with us and our readers her documentation of the 11 artists’ artworks on the streets of Aberdeen.
Martha tells us that this “I Will Pay Taxes” mural is painted on a building whose owner didn’t pay his taxes. It was controversial but in the end, the organizers of the festival prevailed to keep the wall up without alterations or censorship.
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening participants at Festival Asalto 2020: 1. Isaac Cordal 2. Elbi Elem 3. Akacorleone 4. Lida Cao 5. Diego Vicente 6. Karto 7. Marta Lapena 8. Sawu 9. Slim Safont
BSA Special Feature: Festival Asalto 2020
In Barrio San Jose (Zaragoza) the Festival Asalto mounted its 2020 edition in spite of, and perhaps because of, the very strange time that we are living in. Once considered an expression of the counterculture, illegal street art has evolved in some ways to spawn legal mural festivals that actually reinforce a sense of normalcy. The organizers and participants of Festival Asalto had to overcome logistical obstacles as well as the fears of many to mount the outdoor exhibition this year, and we salute them for their fortitude and successes.
A pioneer in public art festivals, Asalto celebrates its 15th year here in San José, in Zaragoza (Spain) with a lineup of very thoughtful artists. The intensity of 2020 and the toll it is taking on the countries of the world – is somehow reflected in the gentle dispositions of this year’s collection, who add their works to the 300 artists and works of art here. Organizers say the connection to the community is predicated on the organizing structure of the festival, which doesn’t decree what is good, but Asalto creates “a dialogue with neighbors who see art as something intimate and in the works they can see scenes in which they can be identified.”
This years Asalto 2020 line-up
includes artists Akacorleone, Diego Vicente,
Elbi Elem, Isaac Cordal, Karto Gimeno, Lida Cao, Marta Lapeña, Slim Safont,
Anna Taratiel, Sawu Studio and Aheneah.
Below are a few that we thought you would enjoy, along with brief descriptions of the artists directly from the Asalto organizers.
Lidia Cao: “The artist Lidia Cao gives us in a large mural those hugs that we have been missing in recent months. With great sensitivity to capture moments in all her works, Lidia Cao makes this gift to the neighborhood. As the artist says ‘A hug. An act as simple as it is difficult. We have seen how a world, in the blink of an eye, has become something completely distant.’ This is a hug of joy or comfort but always comforting and that has already become a symbol for all the people who see it every day in its wake.”
Elbi Elem: “The artist Elbi Elem has explored every corner of the area of Zaragoza where the Festival Asalto has been held to continue on her path of artistic research. Elbi Elem has used the possibilities of water and reflection to create installations that lead us to recognize the duality between balance and movement or the constant change in which we find ourselves.”
Issaac Cordal: “The small figures that Isaac Cordal has placed in different parts of the San José neighborhood are part of his series, called Cement Eclipses. With this game he invites us to look for the works – he wants to draw attention to our behavior as a mass and the effects of the evolution of society. Isaac Cordal presents this intervention to us as a game and as a surprise, each encounter with one of the figures makes us wonder and question who we are.”
Karto Gimeno: “Karto Gimeno makes his first foray into public art at the Asalto Festival and he did so by transferring his characteristic style to the large format: photography and almost scenographic installation.
With that style with which he captures the urban environment that surrounds us, Karto Gimeno wanted to bring to the people some characteristic buildings that surround the neighbourhood where Festival Asalto took place this year: abandoned and invaded by vegetation and humidity houses. Three large photographs located on the facades of the buildings become three new windows from which to look and recognize the past of an area that has forgotten its agricultural past.”
Marta Lapeña: “In a large mural of five panels, the artist Marta Lapeña remembers the everyday life of the San José neighborhood of Zaragoza with some of the elements that represent its past: glass, ceramics, wheat and barley or the thread with which industrial tarpaulins were manufactured. The 50s and 60s saw the birth of a neighborhood that was born around the industry and now the artist wants to take us to that simplicity of workers’ homes with a figurative mural in which color takes us from one scene to another.”
Slim Safont: “After meeting the neighbors of the building in which he was going to make his mural and walking the streets of the neighborhood capturing his life, the artist Slim Safont noticed a scene as everyday as it was loaded with a message; a slogan on a young girl’s shirt and a nursery in the background remind us of the future that lies ahead. And he does it with that technical skill that characterizes his work: almost photographic paintings that acquire texture as we get closer.”
Akacorleone: “Akacorleone’s mural ‘ILUSIÓN’ is a set of vibrant colors halfway between abstraction and figuration. With this work, the Portuguese artist wants to defend the life and flourishing of the human being after experiencing difficult situations. As he said “my idea was to create something that simbolized the calm after the storm, something beautiful that can emerge from dark times”. Painted with the spray technique, the refined shapes that we appreciate in this work also lead us to a oneiric world.”
Sawu Studio: With the challenge of transform into a new space a degraded -although widely used- square, the Sawu Studio team has built an ephemeral installation that claims play and meeting spaces for people. A large circle symbolizes that circle or safety space in which dialogue arises and which also protects the little ones.
The effect of light on wood turns four colors into an infinite palette that changes with the sun and the movement of those around it. With this installation, Sawu has managed to point out the need to humanize public spaces and respect them and has responded to the more than 300 surveys with which the neighborhood expressed its wishes towards the “nameless square”, the place where locate this facility.