Concrete Playground. Happy June.
Lisbon Street Art Guide and more cool stuff, in your 1st-of-the-month newsletter.
how are you?
Here in Rome, it's over 30° already, and I'm melting in front of the laptop. Last month was so hot that I felt the urge to book a ferry to Sardinia for July; I need to escape the city's heat, or I won't be able to deliver all the copywriting work I'm supposed to do this summer.
Last month I didn't write any new article for the blog, but I added 6000 words to an old article about street art in Lisbon; I'm happy to present you with the updated version of my Lisbon Street Art Guide, which includes two walking itineraries (thanks to some of you who explicitly asked for them), six neighborhoods you shouldn't miss, and dozens of artists in the spotlight (both Portuguese and international).
In May, some of my favorite street art festivals were back in full swing: the Sorry Not Sorry festival in Ghent (Belgium) and the Upfest festival in Bristol (UK). I'm so happy street art festivals are back that I briefly considered attending both, but I eventually had to stay home and write. It has been a busy period (luckily!), and there's definitely a Murphy's Law on freelancing saying that 'All jobs are due the same day’ ;)
However, with my mind and with my heart, I did attend the Sorry Not Sorry festival for the presentation of the street art book I co-wrote with Tristan Manco, a 220-page tribute to the abandoned cement factory ‘Betoncentrale’, which had been Ghent’s graffiti paradise for over a decade. Since the first time I was in Ghent, I was charmed by the former cement factory in the old harbor area where graffiti writers and street artists painted every day. Local and international artists left a sign on its crumbling walls, making it a crucial spot for the evolution of Ghent’s street art scene.
June looks pretty busy too, first and foremost because I'm flying to Aberdeen (Scotland) to bring you behind the scenes of the world-leading street art festival Nuart. I'm proud to be a media partner of this excellent festival, which means that I'll bring you under the cherry picker and in the front row at the street art symposium Nuart Plus, where artists, academics, authors, researchers, curators, producers, writers, and more creative professionals will share their street art knowledge. And I will be all ears!
The last time I visited Aberdeen was in 2019, and I'm so looking forward to reconnecting with the Nuart Family and to meeting some of you in real life ;) Hit me up if you are in Aberdeen, and let's have a beer together!
Lastly, I'm curious to know if you also travel to street art festivals and which one you are planning to attend this summer. Just reply to this email to let me know your travel plans.
Until next month,
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New on YouTube!
Street Art in Lisbon: The Video
New on the Blog!
Street Art in Lisbon: from Addfuel to Vhils (what a bummer that I couldn’t find the Z!)
At last, I've updated my Lisbon Street Art Guide with two walking itineraries, six neighbourhoods you shouldn't miss, and many more murals I've spotted during my recent trip to Lisbon. Lisbon is still one of my favorite cities when it comes to urban art, one you should definitely visit!
Murals in Ostiense, one of Rome’s first street art districts.
When the factories in Ostiense moved to more remote areas, they left behind large and vacant spaces with an irresistible urban charm. This has occured in many large cities around the world: the first parts of town to become ‘street art districts’ are almost always those with an industrial past.
Nuart Aberdeen 2022, time to re-connect!
I can’t think of a better place to re-connect with my drive than the Nuart festival. Since my first Nuart back in 2016, the street art community gathering around the festival has been a significant inspiration for me.
You somehow stumbled upon my blog and subscribed to the newsletter, but you have no idea who I am and how my blogging journey has unfolded so far? Here I share the ups and downs of my first 10 years of blogging :)
Handpicked by yours truly
Street Art News and more stuff I liked in the past month
Graffiti legend Futura2000 and Brazilian twins Os Gemeos teamed up to paint a majestic mural on the wall of Benjamin N. Cardoza High School in Queens (New York City). Legendary graffiti photographer Martha Cooper was also there to take iconic shots, like this one with B-Boy world champion Neguin:
The mural is full of amazing details, such as the character’s sunglasses, which are an exact replica of Futura’s subway Break piece from 1980:
The Argentinian-Spanish artist Felipe Pantone operated on London’s urban furniture by turning an elevated linear park in Greenwich Peninsula into a work of art. The intervention is part of the artist’s series called “Subtractive Variability.”
The series combines the CMY model (used in color printing to allow standardization and a trademark in Pantone’s latest works) with the manipulative aspect -in this case: the act of displacing and rotating the same image throughout the whole structure to obtain endless combinations of the visible color spectrum. These are obtained from the subtraction of light that happens when the three colors — cyan, magenta, and yellow — are combined in their different variations.
“These details are usually easy to find as chromatic aberrations in prints by looking under the magnifier; it’s fantastic to be able to see this phenomenon on this installation in such a massive scale.” - Felipe Pantone
Dutch graffiti pioneer ZEDZ was back in Milan (where he lived for nine years) to paint a massive mural inspired by Dutch artist Piet Mondriaan. ZEDZ used Mondriaan’s iconic colors (yellow, red, green, and blue) to give a new perspective to a facade in the Corvetto neighborhood by overlapping abstract shapes, lines, transparencies, and volumes.
This playful, conceptual technique emphasizes rhythm and balance over the fixed form of the letters, attempting to comprehensively eclipse traditional style writing.
“I’m not into style writing, or perhaps I do -but in a way that changes the concept of style writing. This is what graffiti is to me. There are people trying to limit graffiti, trying to put it in a box; they say things like: “This is graffiti” or “This is not graffiti anymore, because you used a stencil.” I want to be outside the box and, if I go inside the box, it’s because I want to widen it.” - ZEDZ
Long-time friends Morcky and Chaz (from The London Police) teamed up to paint this long mural in Barcelona, curated by the open air museum Arnau Gallery.
The two artists met in Amsterdam in the early 2000s and, together, they pioneered the street art scene of Amsterdam. (check out the interview I did with Morcky, he told me the whole story ;))
A rare monochromatic work by Ukrainian artist AEC Interesni Kazki, who was in Puerto De La Cruz (Tenerife, Spain) for Mueca Festival. Titled “Los Fundadores,” the mural references the city’s old coat of arms, which featured the local sea coral Dendrophyllia Ramea, the Euphorbia Canarias cactus, and a cross symbolizing colonialism of the past centuries.
Last month marked an important anniversary for street artist Space Invader. Active since the 1990s, Space Invader has just installed his 4000th mosaic. To celebrate such a milestone, the French artist flew to Potosi (Bolivia), a mountain city at 4000 meter above sea level.
Space Invader’s mosaics are inspired by the first generation of video games and their subversive power lies in the decontextualization of an artform traditionally associated with the opulent interiors of palaces and mansions.
A lovely Italian movie that I’m pretty sure you can find on international platforms too: Freaks Out is the story of four freaks who lose their freak show manager during a Nazi roundup. The setting recalls a dark fairy-tale whose characters -despite their peculiarities- are humans, and definitely more humans than the Nazis.
At last, the second season of Undone is out! The second season isn’t much about schizophrenia and more about time travel and family mysteries, but it’s still worth watching (although I appreciated the first season more).
This super-interesting talk between graffiti writer MADC and graffiti photographer Martha Cooper:
These days I’m watching Afterlife, a black comedy by Ricky Gervais following the life of Tony Johnson, whose life is turned upside down after his wife dies from breast cancer. I’m loving the way each character is written, how everybody is profoundly themselves, with no hope (nor need) of redemption.
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Open Calls for Urban Artists
The Urban Art Festival Monar’T (Girona, Spain) is waiting for your project around the festival theme of “Diversity and Cultural Wealth in the Neighborhoods.” You can apply until June 12th.
Romania’s street art festival Zidart is looking for street artist to create a mural around this year’s festival theme “Utopia”. You can apply until July 1st.
Borderline Arte Festival in Italy is looking for all kinds of artists (including street artists) to take part in the upcoming edition of the festival. Apply before June 15th.
Italy’s annual Paste-Up Festival wants you to send your posters and/or stickers to @street_art_projects_naples (DM them on Insta before September 3rd for mailing details).
From the Archive
My weekend in Bristol as a (nostalgic) local.
Since I’ve thought a lot about going back to Bristol for this year’s UPFEST Festival, here is the article I wrote after going back for UPFEST 2018. Spoiler: it’s always a good idea.