Streets of Lisbon. Happy May.
Street inspired exhibitions and more cool stuff, in your 1st-of-the-month newsletter.
how are you?
I’m writing this monthly dispatch from a window seat above the bright, fluffy clouds. I’ve just had my first post-pandemic trip; being able to travel again truly felt like a blessing, and I indeed made the most out of it by exploring Lisbon far and wide to document all the murals that had blossomed since when I published my Lisbon Street Art Guide back in 2015.
The city has changed a lot since my last visit. International street artists have flown to Lisbon’s outskirts to beautify the city’s alleged ghettos, and the number of new large-scale murals is impressive. Urban art is so widespread in Lisbon that it colonized the most unexpected neighborhoods, like the posh area built for the 1998 Expo where, amidst futuristic skyscrapers and Starbucks Coffees, you can find gigantic installations by Bordalo II, and many murals.
Areas I previously endorsed for their authenticity -I’m looking at you, Alcantara- replaced their old grungy houses with soulless glass buildings that host luxury offices. And then there are Marvila and Beato, with their industrial vibe and sparkling creative energy, the two areas I’m recommending you to enjoy before it’s too late.
Back in 2015, Lisbon changed my life by putting graffiti and street art at the core of the urban research I carry on through the blog. This time, the city inspired me with yet another urban project I’m eager to start working at :)
There is something in the white light of Lisbon that keeps inspiring my work. This trip has been the perfect antidote to the apathetic mindset that grew on me in the past two years. It helped me reconnect with my sunshine self -the Giulia that wakes up early eager to leave the house and enjoy all that a city has to offer, the Giulia that walks 20 km per day fuelled only by her enthusiasm (almost literally, as it turned out that the Portuguese cuisine doesn’t offer many vegetarian options).
As I look down at the bright, fluffy clouds, I’m promising myself to bring this Lisbon energy into my regular life in Rome, swapping lazy afternoon on the couch with urban explorations, and routines with a curious mindset. Indeed, the walking tours I’m planning for some of you will help me keep the exploration mood on. After all, the feeling of continuous discovery is precisely what I love about my hometown.
Until next month,
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New on the Blog!
PRISMA, an immersive exhibition by Vhils at MAAT Museum in Lisbon.
Although the medium is radically different, I found many similarities with Vhils' street work. Besides the familiar topics of urbanization, worldwide homogenization, loss of city's identities, and loss of people's identity, the slow-motion technique recalls Vhils' mission to seize the moment and make time slow down.
The Keith Haring exhibition at Palazzo Blu in Pisa.
Tracing his artistic career from start to finish, the exhibition shows Keith Haring’s faith in art’s power to change the world by spreading a message of peace and unity.
Street Art in Quadraro: the masterpieces of Rome’s Museum of Urban Art.
I’ve already brought you to hunt street art around Quadraro Vecchio in 2014 and then again in 2015. Although there are any new murals around the Quadraro neighbourhood, in April I went back to document how these murals are aging -because ephemerality is one of the main characteristic of street art ;)
New on the YouTube channel!
My weekend in Pisa, in a nutshell ;)
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 this month:
In April, the excellent Crystal Ship Festival was back in full swing, bringing to the Belgian coastal city of Ostend street artists in the likes of Axel Void, Broken Fingaz, Ampparito, Franco Fasoli, and many more. Let’s catch a glimpse of this year’s festival through my personal selection of three works:
When I attended The Crystal Ship festival in 2018, Sainer from the Polish duo Etam Cru was painting a wall solo. This year, the other half of the team –Betz– was invited to Ostend to paint for The Crystal Ship festival 2022. Betz was the one specialising in intimate portraits and dreamlike settings among the two artists of the duo. Now that the Etam Cru duo no longer exist, the artist is experimenting with classical still life.
Maya Hayuk is well known for her geometric patterns inspired by traditional embroidery techniques she learned as a child. Her murals are about traditional art blending with contemporary art. The artist has Ukrainian roots and lived in Odessa for several years as a student. When invited to The Crystal Ship festival 2022, she painted a powerful mural with the colours of the Ukrainian flag.
The Brazilian artist is color blind, hence the exclusive use of black and white, which became his trademark palette. However, Alex Senna depicts a wide range of human emotions with only these two colours. Invited to Ostend for The Crystal Ship Festival 2022, he painted a storytelling mural about sorrow and hope (I love the detail of the fingers crossed!) to be forgiven.
One last thing about The Crystal Ship festival: enjoy this making-of video by the great Jules Césure! (who also sent me the photos above, so double thanks! I’m glad to have generous people like him in this newsletter tribe)
Cbloxx (from the Nomad Clan duo) just painted “Force of Nature” in Leeds, UK to celebrate LGBTQI inclusivity with the image of a peacock, which is the emblem of Leeds United football team and a symbol of gay pride. The mural celebrates the LGBTQI association “Marching Out Together.”
“Visibility is the key to change, living authentically and owning that reality is such a powerful tool that has the ability to transcend stereotypes and break down barriers. […] The core thematic of The Peacock really is Pride, what is more sassy? Its otherworldly flamboyance, confidence and striking visuals made it a focal point no-brainer. To convey the notion of activism, protest and visibility I borrowed aesthetics from the old coal mining embroidered flags, which echo the typical northern working-class heritage that I so often celebrate in my work.” - Cbloxx
I met Gonzalo Borondo at the opening of his solo exhibition in Rome, which followed an art residency at Rome’s Varsi Art Lab. In the series “Monumenta”, the artist explores the relationship between men and the sense of eternity represented by monuments:
I rewatched “I love you Phillip Morris,” a movie with Jim Carrey, but nothing like the movies he usually does. Highly recommended!
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Writers gotta write
From my interview with Italian post-graffiti artist Emanuele Vittorioso, published on Urbaneez:
“I've always considered Graffiti and Street Art as ephemeral art forms. True, the movement was born 50 years ago, and it has evolved much through the decades: from illegal and underground expressions on the streets to what we now call Urban Contemporary Art. So it's legit to think that some pieces have historical value and, therefore, should be preserved. However, both graffiti and street art have spread as an underground phenomenon, so, in my opinion, these creations constitute temporary and ephemeral designs from the start.” - Emanuele Vittorioso
Open Calls for Urban Artists
Upeart is looking for an artist to realize a mural in Oulu, Finland. This is a paid commission and you can apply here before May 9th.
From the Archive
Where do locals eat in Lisbon?
From travelling to Lisbon as a vegetarian to avoiding tourist traps and places that, since my last visit, have become too busy, here is my UPDATED Lisbon Food Guide: