Danish painter Jacoba Niepoort
captures a figure mid moment, usually in movement and gently touched with
Here in Fanzara, Spain her new mural for the MIAU Festival is in two distinct parts, separated by bricked wall, interconnected by a chord. The malleable wire of energy seems to envelop the nude as she reaches toward a winged being which is taking flight, thin rope in claw.
This looks like a powerful creature. You may imagine this whimsical scene taking a difficult turn as soon as this bird is airborne and the entangled figure is dragged along behind, haplessly scraping along the ground and banging into houses, cars, and bushes until lifted up above the trees.
Hopefully that doesn’t occur.
Niepoort tells us that this is scene
not to be taken so literally.
“The mural is about the process of letting go of those things we have a hard time letting go of,” she says. Given the moment she has depicted here, there is little time remaining to let go.
“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.
Not your typical mural festival, Circular asks you to recycle your art materials to create your new piece.
Occurring on the outer rim of Madrid, this collection of thinkers and conceptualists challenge almost every concept of the sad digression called the “mural festival” today – with the sincere focus of bringing the practice back to the community and creating work in the context of it.
Artist Elbi Elem tells us that she and Sue975, Aida Gómez, Octavi Serra, Clemens Behr, Brad Downey and Marina Fernandez were living and working in this barrio in the southern part of Madrid for two weeks. Rather than “parachuting” in and immediately putting up a mural that has nothing to do with the city, she tells us that it was important to spend a week to get to know the barrio and the people.
“Then we chose a location and got the materials,” she says of the recycled items with which she built this sculpture. “It is metal and mostly tubes and plastics that were found in abandoned places and waste from some factory of the industrial area that we were in – like plastics that had been used for signs or skylights.”
Officially running from October 1-20, Circular says that the entire concept is meant to reconsider the role of urban art in a city and to return its scope and proportions away from the enormous expanses we have been seeing on the sides of skyscrapers to something that is more, well, human scale. In addition to supporting themes such as sustainability and scale, organizers say they’re less interested in being a tool for gentrification or revitalizing areas for tourism, and more interested in bringing art to neighbors.
“By taking the festival to this area of southern Madrid, we contribute to the decentralization of culture in the city, to the democratization of art and to bringing it closer to all types of audiences,” they say in a description of goals.
For Elem’s sculpture, which she calls a “floating art installation”, she welded the metal and tried to use colors that are natural to this human-made environment.
“At the same time the colors I used were also the same as the surroundings, being integrated with the landscape,” she says.
“I decided to work under this long-roofed area at the entrance of the main market. I liked the environment and the background and it was easy to hang the piece. I loved that place because you could see a lot of movement of people going to shop and it was interesting seeing their reactions,” she adds, “mostly of surprise.”
PichiAvo finishes Artistic intervention in the Livensa Living Diagonal Alto student residence.
Poseidon and the sea are both visible from here, so is Athena, another powerful Greek god. She ultimately prevails, if you recall. You can read HERE about their Athena intervention back in July.
Here we see graffiti/Street Art/muralist duo PichiAvo is prevailing as well in Barcelona during recent commissions in July and September. This time their signature style is employed for a real estate developer client and the results are tight as ever.
The Spanish painters’ deconstruction of classical iconography is becoming the stuff of legends, and here they present their tableaus in sectional designs that poke inside and out- elaborate expressions of gauzy and marbled high and low imagery blended in a complimentary way.
Our special thanks to talented photographer Fer Alcala today who shares his unique view and optical talents today with BSA Readers.
Community murals today from two artists last month in Barcelona working with the Contorno Urbano program that brings artists of many disciplines to a series of walls in the public space.
Today we have Claudio Drë and Minuskila, who each take different approaches to themes, his abstractly wildstyle, hers simply symbolic, graphic and possibly painful.
Chilean born, Barcelona-based former graffiti writer Dr. Drë began on the streets in 1996 with aerosol and eventually experimented with oil, acrylic, and canvas. His murals and fine art have been exhibited in Chile, Latin American and Europe. He has an affinity for the technical, the fine line, volume, and perspective. His new mural draws upon his original fascination for graffiti, geometry, psychedelia and the letterform, bringing each to a more futuristic dimension.
A member of the artistic collective Reskate Arts & Crafts , graphic artist Minuskula (María López) is original from the Basque Country in Donostia-San Sebastián and has dedicated much of her work to illustration and letter-styling, with some experience in muralism as well. Here she translates an illustrated metaphor large scale, calling the piece “Limits”.
The color palette of the new collection of murals at the 3rd edition of Parees Festival is softened, earthen, stable. Adding five new murals brings the total to 23 here in Oviedo The 3rd edition of Parees Festival in Oviedo in Northern Spain, only minutes from the Bay of Biscay.
As you review the techniques and schools of influence you can see the careful curation of the selection of muralists – each seemingly contextual, whether figurative or abstract of geometric.
Organizers say the newest artist participants, Mina Hamada, Hedof & Joren Joshua, Udatxo, Catalina Rodríguez Villazón & Matth Velvet, were chosen from a global selection yet are expected to be cognizant of their immediate environment in their conception.
There are themes based on regional culture, say the organizers, and “You can also add to this spirit the main characteristic of the event which make it something different from other urban art festivals in the country: the participatory processes: neighbors from every area where the walls are located collaborate with their authors in order to participate in the final design.”
As illegal Street Art morphed into legal murals we began to witness the entry of formally trained artists and professionals who not only abandoned the politically charged or socially challenging themes in favor of pleasant topics and commercial aesthetics but accidentally launched an arms race for the biggest, tallest, widest walls possible.
Soon the descriptions we received about new artist works shifted from discussions on themes and messages to statistics about square meters covered, the number of stories high the building was, and how many cans or gallons of paint were required to finish it.
artist, designer, and photographer Octavi Serra would like a larger wall
please. The one that Contorno Urbano gave him for their 11th mural
this year in Barcelona seems dreadfully small, and he has really big ideas. He
calls this mural “Insufficient”.
says his work often “focuses on capturing the irony, truisms and frustrations
of modern life,” and while this piece is evidently meant to be tongue in cheek,
he is tapping into a general sense of dissatisfaction that is part of a
materialistic culture, and part of the human condition.
letting the typography bleed off the edges, you also sense the claustrophobic
feelings that are playing with the artists mind. “There is this feeling of
never being completely satisfied even though reason argues that we should be,”
he says. “There is this desire to always have more, which make the road
impossible to enjoy.”
mural is part of the 12 + 1 public mural project of Barcelona – at the Civic
Center Cotxeres Borrell. Before the end of the year they are planning a
collective exhibition where works by all the artists who have participated in
the edition of the 12 + 1 2019 Barcelona project will be on display. The show
will feature artists Jay Visual, Ivan Floro, Margalef, Anna Taratiel, Nuria
Toll, Flavita Banana, Cristina Lina, Degon, Mr. Sis, Cristina Daura, Laia and
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.
StARTer Proyectos Culturales, an independent cultural
organization just finished a collaboration of two artists in the plaza, and you
can almost here the voices of the women whose memories they evoked.
A unique project that brought the images of women playing a local game similar to bowling to the frontages of Plaza San Nicolas, the combined talents of Street Artists Nespoon and Regue Fernández brings back images of people who lived here in this northern Spanish town of Belorado, population 2,100.
“This square was a place where local women played bowling,” says the Polish Nespoon. “I found and painted local lace motifs and Regue created the figures of the local women based on old photos he found from the city’s newspaper.”
Conceived and led by curator Estela Rojo and Fernández, the
project is meant to address the presence of women in public space; and the
heavy attendance at the opening here, it looks like it was a success.
“Many people came to the opening of the square to see the new décor,” Nespoon says, describing the large crowd gathered to watch women playing the game and to see the new artworks. “There was a lot of joy, laughter and fun.”
Sometimes as an artist you go away to the city to chase opportunity, to pursue new paths, to develop your repertoire. Sometimes you return home to give your city a gift.
Known more recently for her works on the street and on street walls in Barcelona, Street Artist and sculptor Elbi Elem continues to develop her geometric reach, even as it leads her to alleys, roofs, and houses in her hometown of Cordoba, Spain.
Taking inspiration from the large scale installations in cities like Rio where Dutch artistsJeroen Koolhaas and Dre Urhahntransformed the Santa Marta Favela, Elbi began to work with the multiple textures and angles and surfaces that occur in a grouping of building.
She says it was a big challenge creating anomorphic images within different planes upon adjacent buildings, but, “After a long period of waiting, some demanding walls, using a large dose of patience, a lot of hard work and negotiations with the expected rain, I finally finished this work in my beautiful and dear Córdoba,” she says. Appropriately, she’s calling it “Home”.
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!
Patti Smith begins the roll call for BSA Images of the Week in this portrait by Huetek. The punk term is loosely tossed around today, but it only applies to a certain number of people truthfully. In so many ways she is one. But she is also an author, poet, activist, and champion of the people – who she says have the power.
So here’s our weekly interview with the street, this time featuring Adam Fu, Bella Phame, BK Foxx, Bobo, Deih XLF, Exist, Huetek, Isaac Cordal, Koralie, Koz Dos, Sixe Paredes, Smells, SoSa, UFO 907, Velvet, WW Crudo, and Zoer.