The best exponents of urban art in Portugal and Northern Spain

Many cities in Europe fought, during the 80s and 90s, against the rise of illegal graffiti in urban spaces. The graffiti filled facades of homes, shops and even public transport. What a priori was a sign of landscape ugliness became, over the years, one of the main attractions of the cities, reaching to turn buildings into ruins in authentic outdoor works of art. The entrance of urban art in the institutions promoted an animated and colorful renovation of the heritage of some countries. Below, we present some of the most outstanding exponents of northern Spain and Portugal.

Portugal, pioneer in supporting urban art

Far from considering continuing to fight against an artistic modality that was gaining more and more followers, the Portuguese capital decided to promote creativity in its streets. Through the creation in 2008 of the Galeria de Arte Urbana (GAU), the city council of Lisbon promoted and disseminated urban art from two types of actions. On the one hand, it promotes this practice through the organization of competitions, exhibitions or workshops. On the other hand, it disseminates the works through periodical publications in digital format.
Far from being limited to the promotion of artists, this gallery is also aimed at encouraging the participation of residents in the decoration of the city’s architecture, alleviating vandalism and protecting its cultural and artistic heritage.

Among the most outstanding ins and outs of Lisbon urban art, areas such as the Graça Literary Walk stand out. In it, graphic artists such as Leonor Brilha, Eime and Lorenzo Bordonaro, coordinated by the Ebano Collective project, developed several murals dedicated to the Portuguese writers who lived in the neighborhood.
Another of the most curious spaces are known as Escadinhas de São Cristóvão. At this point in the city, the murals on the façades, creation of the collective Movimento os Amigos de São Cristóvão, focus on Portuguese fado. Not in vain, they are very close to the neighborhoods of Mouraria and Alfama, places where the Portuguese popular song, declared World Heritage in 2011, germinated.

mural en el Paseo Literario de Graça

Vigo and Ferrol, Galician epicenters of muralism

Some thirty murals adorn the streets of Vigo since, in 2014, its city council opted to improve its aesthetics through urban art. The mediating features of the Vigo buildings have become the main canvases of these particular frescoes, which already share a leading role with the main tourist attraction of the area: the Cíes Islands. Artists such as Ash Santos, Wigs, Liqen, Peri or Berta Cáccamo have filled Vigo with scenes of artistic and landscape evocation.

From the thematic heterogeneity of the Vigo murals, we turn to the unity presented by the paintings of Las Meninas de Canido, in Ferrol. This initiative was started by the local artist Eduardo Hermida, with the idea of ​​promoting the renovation of the Canido neighborhood. The work to be reinterpreted is the famous painting of Las Meninas by Velázquez, of which dozens of versions from national and international artists already live in its walls. The first weekend of September, since 2008, Canido becomes the center of a celebration in which the artists dialogue with the public while they translate their works in the neighborhood, which has already become an example to follow in what urban regeneration is concerned.

Reinterpretación de Las Meninas en Canido

Vitoria-Gasteiz, the painted city of Euskadi

The murals of Vitoria are the product of the collaboration between the neighbors, who have painted them voluntarily in workshops belonging to the Public Muralism Association. People of any age or profession, led by professionals, have been the architects of the foundation of an authentic urban gallery. The influence of the citizens of Vitoria has left an indelible mark on the theme of the murals. Thus, social, historical and environmental issues abound. For example, in the working class neighborhood of Zaramaga, there is a mural dedicated to all those immigrants, now retired, who in the 60s began to work in the area. Other frescoes, such as those that occupy the street Colegio de San Prudencio or the Aldabe civic center, are committed to raising awareness about the dangers of pollution.

mural en Vitoria

Oviedo, first steps for renewal

The past 14 and 15 October, the Asturian city celebrated Parees, its first Festival of Mural Intervention. The call was open to local, national and international artists and aimed at the creation of nine new murals. One of those paintings will replace the deteriorated mural on Santa Clara Street, by Florentino Flórez and Antonio Lana, and which portrays the famous Asturian writer Leopoldo “Alas” Clarín, writer of La Regenta. The author who replaces this last painting will be Twee Muizen, whose sketch was proclaimed winner among the 70 candidatures received by artists from more than twenty nationalities.

boceto de Twee Muizen