The legacy of Barcelona’s artists, some of whom have achieved wide renown, has been enriched by contributions from high profile artists from around the world.
The great boom that Barcelona experienced around the year 2000 as a centre for urban art has left a legacy of artists that started out in this scene and have now achieved widespread recognition. Maybe the grand old man of graffiti art is Xupet Negre, who has been painting on Barcelona’s walls and furniture since 1989. His emblem, a black baby’s dummy often surrounded by pacifist symbols and words, is one of the images that we can most frequently find as we walk around the city.
Sixe Paredes is one of the most internationally acclaimed of our artists. Influenced by Miró and primitive art, his work takes the form of colourful abstract art with geometric shapes that overlap to form complex structures laden with symbolism that allow spectators to let their imaginations soar. In Barcelona, we can visit two great murals by this artist: El espíritu de la montaña (The Spirit of the Mountain), painted on a vast wall on Carrer Lepant as part of the Open Walls Conference 2016, and Tribut a Miró (Tribute to Miró), created in 2014 for the Projecte Ciutat Vella.
Another major figure is El Pez, creator of the style that he himself christened the “Barcelona Happy Style”. Clearly influenced by his origins in graffiti, his pieces are full of colour and always feature his symbol, a fish with an enormous smile. In Barcelona, some of his pieces can be seen in La Escocesa and in Sant Adrià del Besòs. If you are lucky, you might even see a lorry decorated by him driving around the city.
Today, Barcelona is still a major stopping-off point for urban artists. If you keep your eyes open while walking around Ciutat Vella or the Sant Martí district, you’ll discover pieces of art created in all kinds of techniques: spray painting, stencils, brush painting, adhesives, etc. Space Invaders’ mosaics, messages and compositions with cans by Los Latas, pop art adhesives by TvBoy and the critical art created out of rubbish by Art is Trash all live side by side and overlap in a shifting, ephemeral exhibition full of surprises.
Thanks to the Wallspot network of walls made available to paint on legally, Barcelona can enjoy several “galleries” of graffiti and urban art that are continuously renewing themselves in various parts of the city: Les Tres Xemeneies, Poblenou, El Fòrum, etc. We can also enjoy some large murals. Perhaps one of the oldest is the big shark painted by Blu in El Carmel in 2009. With the Open Walls Conference, the Difusor collective has succeeded in getting internationally renowned artists to create large-scale pieces. Examples include: the wall of the Civic Centre in Sant Martí, painted by Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada; the wall on Carrer Montseny in L’Hospitalet, by Zosen and Mina Hamada; and the mural dedicated to the flamenco dancer and singer Carmen Amaya, painted by Btoy and Uriginal, in Parc del Clot.