What jumps out about Valencia is the abundance of street art. If this happens to be something you’re interested in, you will find strolling around the city is like embarking on a treasure trail.
The renaissance of street art in Valencia can be largely accredited to artists Escif and Hyuro, both living and using the city as their urban canvas. But like many great projects, this is very much a collaborative effort, with a teem of artists flocking to Valencia from around the world to showcase their work in the form of stencils, spray paint and stickers.
Murals in all shapes, sizes and styles can be found in high concentration in El Carmen, an area of the city that’s north east of the Old Town and home to some great bars and restaurants.
There appears to be lots of empty buildings in Valencia which makes it easy for street art to flourish, and at the same time – graffiti. If you’re wondering what the difference is, I’m no expert, but I find street art positively adds to the city by inviting visitors to engage with the cityscape through imagery and ideas – it opens a dialogue – it provokes you to ask questions, or simply provokes a smile. Street art also often uses different mediums, whereas graffiti is usually just the practice of spray paint and it doesn’t seek to engage, it seeks to obfuscate.
The idea of community engagement is what I admire most about street art, there’s an inclusivity to it that at its best has a transformative social effect. This effect can be seen in cities like Berlin, Lodz and Reykjavik which all have a creative vibe that can partly be attributed to its open spaces being used as an urban canvas. Furthermore, the ephemeral nature of street art means it can be extremely current, rolling with popular culture, whether that’s depicting political messages or simply offering a slice of local culture.
Here are some of the ones I liked the most:
It’s likely that you already know the work of BLU, a world-renowned Italian artist who has painted murals in most of the world’s most biggest cities. I’d say he’s my favourite street artist, after discovering his work during a trip to Berlin in 2010. As soon as I stumbled across this piece it appeared so obviously BLUian that it was no surprise to see this confirmed by Mr Google. His style and signature use of gold is difficult to mistake for anyone else’s.
This depiction of Moses, combined with the tumbling cars by another artist, Escif, has become one of the most photographed walls in Valencia. Fancy that!
Escif is a local boy who treats the walls of Valencia rather like his own open art gallery. His simple style makes his work stand out, and it’s this simplicity for me that makes his work oscillate between humorous and unsettling. This particular piece is clearly questioning society’s use of phones, apps and the internet. We might be more connected than ever virtually, but are we anymore connected in reality? His messages usually have a political slant of a dystopian nature.
Originally from Argentina, Hyuro has been putting her stamp on Valencia since she moved to the city in 2005. A lot of her work has an unsettling dream-like quality, often depicting women’s issues. This except from an interview she did reveals her intentions further:
This year, following the controversy that was generated with an intervention I did for the ̈ International Day of Working Women ̈ representing the housewife in 24 different images, images taken of myself and my own housework, I was surprised with the reading and the reaction of so many women. I became aware that if we still feel offended against such images of housework it is because there is still an unresolved conflict.
You can read the full interview here.
Erica Il Cane
Erica il Cane is an Italian street artist. She lives and works in Bologna but has painted walls all around the world, especially known for creating massive murals with mostly animals and with many collaborations. Along with Hyuro she is probably one of the most internationally well-known female street artists.
The one of the rabbit and the cat are painted on opposites sides of the same building, and located in an area with a high density of street art in Valencia (barrio del Carmen) so its well worth heading that way.
David de Limón
Whilst David de Limón’s masked men don’t really appeal to my taste, they are ubiquitous in Valencia. Sneaking their way into corners and doors you’ll never quite feel like you’re walk alone. Every single one of these fellas carries a heart-shaped symbol across their chest, which is a needed distraction from their burglar-like appearance!
And a few more…