Welcome in this second part about Bucharest! I now bring you with me for a stroll in the city, along the murals I discovered!
Street art in Bucharest offers a new economic and cultural attractiveness. There are more and more murals in the public space, but also in private spaces, which is a characteristic of the urban art scene of this city.
First things first: Bucharest part.1 : a city of many contrasts, it’s this way!
In April 2019 I was on a study trip to Bucharest with my Masters’ class. Welcomed by professors from the Ion Mincu University of Architecture and Urban Planning (UAUIM) in Bucharest, we attended lectures and guided tours of the city centre, and we also walked around on our own, like grown-ups 🙂
I have not walked all over the city in these few days, but I offer you a panorama of the artists that you can encounter the most and the muras that I found.
The tool that was most useful to me in my discoveries and to tell you about my trip in this article is the map Un-Hidden Bucharest which lists a hundred murals in Bucharest, and many more in the rest of the country! In fact, most of the murals mapped here were painted between 2016 and 2020. It shows the growth of this artistic practice in Bucharest in recent years.
Street art to the rescue of cultural heritage
Our first stop in the city is the University of Architecture and Urban Planning in Bucharest where we attended a conference on the urbanisation of the city. At the end, I walked around the university building and discovered a large terrace on the first floor which houses several murals!
The largest and also the most impressive in my opinion is by Obie Platon, in collaboration with Alexandru Barat and Sandu-Milea Lucian. Painted in 2016, the artwork is entitled ‘The Architect’. It is a portrait of Ion Mincu (1852-1912), a major Romanian architect who gave his name to the UAUIM. Obie Platon chose to pay tribute to this man and his former university since he himself studied architecture there. The influence of his first profession can be found in his art among many other influences such as kinetic art, surrealism or pop culture. He began his street art practice with graffiti in the early 2000s and became known in the local street art scene under the pseudonym Allan Dalla. He has created several other monumental murals in Bucharest, and he also exhibits his work internationally.
Little tip: if you get a little closer, you’ll find the artist’s signature and a flash code linking directly to his website. Flash codes are quite common in street art to self-promote! Keep an eye on it and flash for interesting discoveries sometimes!
Still in the UAUIM courtyard, another large wall displays two murals. The upper one, also painted in 2016, is by Saddo, a Romanian illustrator and muralist. He studied graphic design at the University of Arts in Cluj-Napoca, his hometown. His first contact with the graffiti culture was during a trip to the United States. After the fall of communism, young people turned to western culture, travelled and discovered hip-hop, in which graffiti was originally a part. Back in Cluj, Saddo created with friends a street art collective “The Playground” and became a major artist on the Romanian art scene. He is also commissioned on various international projects.
In retrospect, the artist, probably a bit of a perfectionist, writes about this mural on his website:
“I feel like I have to be honest about this mural – it’s a pretty frustrating mural for me, I see it as a symbol of failure for me: the moment I painted it was a moment of personal failure in my life. Also, the original idea of the mural itself was initially that of a juxtapozition of natural, organic elements, and a white line drawing of a Corinthian capital. The whole idea was to illustrate the way architecture finds inspiration in nature. But at the moment I felt like adding that extra element might fuck up the whole thing, I was a bit worried, so I just left it like this, and now I feel like there’s something missing, and that I should’ve made that extra effort.”
We also find the invader’s artist Toy Box for the mural in progress, and the maze is anonymous.
During our pilgrimage in the city, I discovered another mural next to Cişmigiu’s park, painted during the festival Visual Playground by Akacorleone. Swiss Portuguese illustrator and graphic designer by training, he started by graffiti in his home town of Lisbon. He had an international street art career and he participated in the Tour 13 festival organised by the Itinerrance gallery in 2013 as well as in a group exhibition at the Mathgoth gallery in 2017 in the 13th arrondissement of Paris for instance.
C.A. Rosetti Street, a work of art by Pisica Pătrată. The funny characters are hiding in the alcoves of a building right next to the Artmark art auction house. Pisica Pătrată is one of the most appreciated and recognized Romanian street artists and illustrators. He is also the founder of the Comic Books Museum. His characters are always located on old buildings in Bucharest. His work in situ in in the city allows him to engage in a dialogue with forgotten historical buildings and to show this abandoned cultural heritage. For example, he has painted on the old buildings of the Cinema Marconi and of the Capitol Summer Theatre.
A second mural by Obie Platon at the corner of Stirbei Voda Street and Ion Campineanu Street for the Bram Stoker restaurant depicts the historical character of Vlad the Impaler, who inspired the novel character of Bran Stoker Dracula. A mythical and emblematic figure of the Romanian popular culture in Transylvania, which has become an important tourist attraction for the region.
Returning to the Lipscani district, on Victoriei Street, an artwork by Cristian Pass created in 2017 depicts an eagle.
2. Open air street art gallery
During our free afternoon at the end of the trip, I went to another district close to the metro station Piţa Romană to discover the Arthur Verona street which houses the Graffiti Walls gallery. No interior spaceor website for this gallery but a lot of murals and graffiti covering the walls of this street. Several walls of this street at the corner with the Dionisie Lupu street are hosting murals that are changing every year during the festival of urban cultures Street Delivery. The murals I discovered were created during the 2018 edition of the festival which takes place every year in June.
The largest is a collective work by female artists on the theme of Girl Power: Wanda Hutira, Livi Po, Grafette (Sandy Balasoiu & Irina Mocanu), Ana Constantinescu, Irina Giuglea, Laura Ionescu, Ira Merzlichin, Mihaela Semeniuc & Andreea Pe Câmpii.
The year before, in 2017, Obie Platon and the NOM Crew had painted this wall for a mural entitled “Don Quixote and the windmills” on the question of the effects of technology on our contemporary society.
The opposite wall is covered by another Romanian artist and illustrator from the local art scene, Kseleqoqynqyshy. He paints almost childlike worlds full of poetry. His murals are mini towns in the town, populated by colourful animals. On his instagram, he explained this very particular universe:
“Inside each building there is another world. And in that world there are infinit buildings that each one have other universes inside. And on each planet there is another world with infinit buildings and characters. So basically there are infinit universes.”
Then comes another large and quite impressive mural of Kraser. The Spanish muralist artist has chosen here to represent a brown bear, an animal very present in the mountains of Romania.
The rest of the street is covered with tags, graffiti and collages. And there are artworks by AEUL and Ortaku again!
While going to the square Piaţa Romană, I discovered a last mural also made during the festival Street Delivery in gable of building which overhangs the bookshop Carturesi Liberia, boulevard Magheru. Its author, the artist Pisică Pătrată mentioned above, paints at the same location every year a new artwork on the theme of books, in reference to its location above the bookstore.
To finish this stroll on a mystery – because yes, when one is passionate about this art, one is in a constant state of investigation and observation (by the way, don’t hesitate to read our article “How we find the artists of the works we meet in the street”)-, here is a pair of eyes that observe the city from above. Located on a building on the Independenţei river quay Dâmboviţa,I didn’t find any mention of this artwork online.
If you know more about it, leave us a little comment!
That’s it for this little city walk through the murals encountered in Bucharest. I hope that it has made you travel and that it makes you want to discover this city when we can all go again on an adventure in faraway lands!
© all the pictures are by InvisibleWalls.
Some links to help you plan your stay:
- [EN] Street art guided tours by Bucharest Alternative Tour
- [EN] Urban Collectors: gallery and librairy dedicated to street art
- [EN] The website: Feeder.ro to know more about the project Un-hidden Bucharest
And for further reading, check out the bibliography at the end of Bucharest part.1!