Street art tour of Barcelona part 2 – Gracia to El Raval

Following on from the last Barcelona street art tour post, I took to the streets of the amazing (but polar opposite) Gracia and el Raval. While having slightly more of an idea of my route this time compared to the maze of el Born, this map is still only indicative, at least within Raval!

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Gracia (Carrer de La Legalitat to Mercat de L’Abaceria)

Having journeyed down from Park Guell, and ensured the morning’s sophisticated culture stop was taken care of, I made my way for what probably turned out to be my favourite part of Barcelona, thanks in part to the laid back indie vibe and artistic atmosphere.

Barcelona’s El Pez has his fish spread across the city, including an amazing piece off Avinguda de Parallel (more on that in part 3…) but this old shutter from ’08 caught my eye, having deteriorated at the same pace as the building it’s part of. It fits the scene perfectly.


Buoyed by this first find of the day, I criss-crossed the neighbourhood, ducking down side streets and gathering quizzical and concerned looks from local workers as I crouched to take pictures at odd angles of obscure bits of wall.

This doorway I passed had another poster from Ozzy, who was rapidly becoming a new favourite of mine with his bright and vivid poster designs. Not sure who or what Utah Ether is, but he/she/they definitely pissed someone off in these parts as nearly all the stickers bearing the name had been scratched, torn or painted over.



Francisco de Pajaro whose work ‘Art is Trash’ I covered in my recent trip to London, had a small piece near a café by Plaça Revolució de Setembre 1868 that had all but disappeared. I took the opportunity to slap a sticker above it too.

For newer examples of his work, check out my recent blog from the anti-art master.


Further down towards central Barcelona I came across these pieces from C215, who would appear to have as much work in the city as native El Pez! These pieces are of different ages it would seem, but all great examples of his stencil artwork. As you can probably tell, I’m an unashamed fanboy.

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The last stop of the day in Gracia was at Mercat L’Abaceria. Over an Almogaver Clasica I was told by a waiter at a local café that the shutters of this lively market dropped around 2pm effectively revealing an awesome open air street art exhibit while the locals head home for some early afternoon shut-eye. Pieces from Inkgravity, Nada and Konair stood out here. Incidentally Konair’s half eaten ice-lollies were spotted far and wide – bit of a local legend it would seem!

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El Raval (Rambla de Raval, Carrer de la Vistalegre to Riereta)

From the sedate and chilled Gracia to the rawer, electric and exhilarating El Raval. I dropped into this exciting neighbourhood at the Barcelona Contemporary Art Museum before diving in head first at the buzzing and frenetic Rambla el Raval.

This mosaic piece at nearby Carrer de Vistalegre by Olae Olae, and another sign intervention from Frenchman Clet Abraham caught my eye before visiting the community led pieces along Carrer de l’Aurora.

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Although maybe not the most particularly outstanding pieces of artwork from a technical point of view, I found these to be some of the most interesting and revealing in terms of gauging the dynamic of el Raval.

As an area that houses several squats, it felt like there might be quite a lot of resentment towards the police or authorities. The pupil of this eye, one of a number of heavily politicised artworks,  represents the residents of the area keeping watch. Really very interesting stuff.


On my way to check out the enormous Joan Miro tribute (“Ciutat Bella”) at the foot of Carrer de la Riereta (an amazing, colourful homage, definitely worth seeking out!), I took a few detours and found this work from Tony Depew and politically charged stencil from Icy and Sot, the Brooklyn-based Iranian street art duo.

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Originally, I’d said I would post all snaps from Barcelona over two posts, but there’s still a number of great work left from the Avinguda de Parallel and surrounding area, so these will follow in the, now final, part 3. As always, love to hear your thoughts on these, so keep them coming via Facebook and on the comments section below.

Steven UKB

Insa GIF-ITI: Biggest street art project…ever?

The term ‘GIF-ITI’, is a relatively new one, and a sub-class of street art/graffiti that is ruled by London based artist Insa. Having begun his career as a graffiti writer, he has since gone on to become known for his unique patterns and motifs, which have since been displayed around the world, on the streets and in the galleries.

Insa is an artist renowned for experimentation and innovation, exemplified by his ground-breaking GIF-ITI creation. The concept is simple, take a wall. Paint it and take a picture. Repaint it, take a picture. Repeat this process until you can piece all the images together into one short animated GIF, creating a piece of moving art on a physical wall that paradoxically, can only be viewed online.

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Check out some more amazing examples from Insa, back in our blog post from May 2013.

The scale on which GIF-ITI has been attempted has been relatively modest so far, but only when viewed in comparison to his latest project.

The giant animated artwork – the most ambitious of its kind – was painted on the ground in four stages over four days in Rio de Janeiro, measuring an incredible 57,515m2. The design takes inspiration from his iconic ‘Looking For Love…’ heart.

The huge paintings weren’t captured from a nearby tall building, or even a drone. Each individual snapshot was instead collected via satellite, orbiting 431 miles above the earth. Something quite incredible from the point of view of a regular (and average) street art photographer like myself!

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On the work, Insa said: “the scale of this project is like no other; it’s been a dream of mine for years to create a piece of graffiti that can be seen from space, but working in synchronicity with the earth’s cycle to also create an animation is next level.”

“To me the GIF was made by the satellite, all I had to do was receive the images and overlay them, then set them to loop.”

“What I love about producing my GIFs is the amount of effort – the scale and man power that has gone into this is huge – but ultimately it’s still just a 600 pixel wide GIF to be shared online. In terms of scale and for the way this project attempts to illustrate time, it’s everything I’ve ever wanted my art to be.”

You can check the video, produced in collaboration with Ballantine’s, for more on the project, how it came to be, and the logistics of a truly epic project.

Having pushed the boundaries this far – the question is, where does he go from here?


Street art tour of Barcelona part 1 – El Barri Gòtic to El Born

Happy (belated) New Year!

It’s been quite quiet on Urban Kultur Blog throughout much of December 2014 as I took some time off from writing, but managed to fit in a really great trip to Barcelona in which I roamed the streets of the city and came across some great work from old faces and discovering some amazing new artists too.

Like the recent virtual tour of east London I’ll be doing the same for this trip, with the first blog covering El Barri Gòtic (the Gothic Quarter) and El Born. The second part covers the dynamic El Raval, El Poble-sec and Gràcia, probably my favourite parts of this Catalonian urban jungle.

As it was a few weeks back, the routes I’ve shown are really as a rough guide, especially within El Born. It was easy to deviate from the main roads and disappear down the many alleyways in search of shutters and doorways. For the vast majority of my time within this area of the city I had no idea where I was in relation to Passeig del Born…some guide!

Roaming data charges were not an option, so it was down to critically under detailed map and pigeon’s instinct…

Barcelona Map

El Barri Gòtic

Having taken the metro to Les Rambles, I walked near enough the entire length before dropping off to the left into the Gothic Quarter. While heavily touristic, when diving down alleyways and even occasionally on the main routes, there was plenty of work on the walls.

Pretty much my first find of the trip was an older piece from C215 (Christian Guemy) on one of the typically grand entries to apartment buildings in this area.


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Throughout El Barri Gòtic and El Born there were so many paste-ups and posters, a couple of examples of those from artists who had a lot of work in these areas are below. It felt like pretty much every wall or door had at least one up there. Zone’s “bomb art” featured heavily throughout the streets of Barcelona as paste ups and a variety of other forms.

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El Born

Further east and down into quirky El Born, crammed with independent shops, bars, cafes and restaurants and covered walls.

One of the many new artists I discovered during my time here was Momo whose caricature-esque posters with really vivid colour were really cool. Unsure if these are of anyone in particular – I can’t make up my mind That obviously doesn’t take anything away from them, but shows my ignorance instead…

I only came across a handful of these but they were among my favourites.



Some of the doorways and walls were so heavily tagged, painted and covered in stickers that on occasion there were some gems hidden behind the layers. See if you can spot this old Alice Pasquini piece nestled in here.


Another new artist whose work I saw a couple of examples throughout the city created these really detailed and intricate posters in black and white. Unfortuantely I was unable to identify the artist, so any help on the name of the artist would be much appreciated, as I’d really like to check out more of their work…

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More unknown poster goodness from this artist – potentially called SHNSHNSHN? Tapping into the latest 21st century obsession of selfies. You can believe in yourself(ies) with our without the narcissist’s tool of choice, the “selfie-stick”…


There were some really nice pieces from Ozzy throughout the city (particularly in Gracia and near Poble-Sec – more on that in part 2 of this shambolic online tour) but I was a particular fan of his work, and these posters especially.




The hot topic in the Catalonian capital the month before this trip was of course the vote for independence, that ended up not being a vote for independence but merely an indicator of public opinion.

The cage over the ballot box symbolising that whatever the vote, the outcome would make little difference to their current situation.

The highly political piece not far from the fantastic Arc de Triomf proclaims that “Despite everything, I, we, you, are free! Independence!” – an indication that the spirit of the people remains as strong as ever.


In the second part of this Barcelona street art tour, I’ll be talking about some of the coolest pieces from Gràcia, El Raval as well as Poble-sec, three of the most diverse and exciting areas that I spent time in.

With El Raval traditionally being the working class neighbourhood of central Barcelona, it was home to some very interesting social/political artwork.

Check back for more on this shortly…


Max Zorn shining new light on old tape

Earlier last month I was contacted by the guys behind SXSW Eco (the partner event to the SXSW music and film festivals) about some work that Amsterdam based tape artist Max Zorn had put together for them at their event back in March. They were keen, and rightly so, to promote the finished installation.

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 Creating the SXSW Eco installation in downtown Austin.

SXSW Eco runs in early October and is a unique platform for professionals, examining the critical challenges of our times through design innovation, technological breakthroughs, conservation practice, entrepreneurial spirit and a culture of creativity to transform inspiration into action.

As part of this they helped hook up an interview between myself and Max to discuss his tape based art more generally, as well as his work for SXSW Eco. There are a number of artists working with this medium at the moment.

Those that stick (initially unintentional, but now welcomed pun) in mind are Buff Diss and Aakash Nihalani, creating really nice effects with very different materials. Aakash NihalaniNihalini (below/right) adds an extra layer by interacting, or encouraging interaction.

But how is Max Zorn’s work any different?

With a surgeon’s scalpel as his brush, he intricately cuts the tape and attaches it to acrylic glass to make use of its semi transparency, casting light from behind to create some really mesmerising work.

So mesmerising, in fact, that when I look at some of the examples I struggle to understand how something so dull and drab as packing tape can be completely transformed by adding light! More about that installation for SXSW Eco, then.

The concept of using tape to make art is like a form of upcycling — taking something away from its intended purpose and giving it a creative touch.

Everything’s bigger in Texas, and it took months of brainstorming to lock in a concept, but on March 5th 2014 Max arrived in Austin with a beat up purple Ford Escort and a wide load of brown Scotch tape to get down to business Teaming up with SXSW and SXSW Eco to make this massive 10ft x 6ft tape art installation downtown was no easy feat, however. The artwork itself was lifted two feet in the air, installed in a customized SXSW Eco lightbox, and lit up like a billboard for foot traffic at Brush Square Park in Austin.

Check this video out to see the process from start to finish.

I was interested to find out more about how he got into using tape for such an impressive display, was there a link to a graffiti-based past? “Not really graffiti, but you could say that the art I was putting on lamps was for the streets before it was put in frames for a gallery.”

“I started hanging my tape art on street lamps around Amsterdam in the spring around 2011. That was right before I went on a road trip, so I brought some work with me and started hanging them on street lamps wherever we went, like Cologne, Madrid, and all around Portugal. And it just kind of went from there…”

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Earlier Max Zorn artwork, hanging from lamp posts worldwide

The effect created by using brown packaging tape for his art is really something, so I was curious to discover how exactly he came to settle on an obscure medium like this, carving out stunning designs and his own niche in the process.

“…I like the idea of taking something ordinary, that isn’t used as an artist’s medium, and shedding new light on it…”

“I like the idea of taking something ordinary, that isn’t used as an artist’s medium, and shedding new light on it. I thought tape could be cool because the brown is slightly transparent, and adding more layers creates depth and different shades of brown.”

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An example of his work representing the vintage nostalgia, enhanced by the sepia tone

“In return it creates sepia tones that people associate with vintage eras and the nostalgic past. And I love that, I’m a big fan of The Lost Generation writers like Steinbeck and Hemingway and their stories…the tones align with the subjects I like, such as Americana, roaring eras, etc.”

But as important as the tape is, none of this would work without the back-lit glass, something that Max is keen to stress. “I guess it’s also important to point out I work with light just as much as tape, so the tape needs to be able to compliment light.”

“It’s like a stained glass window, and some tape just can’t work like that. Others do, I’m trying out green and reds at the moment and it looks pretty cool too.”

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Incredible use of packing tape

From humble beginnings, Max’s work has gone on to receive widespread acclaim, hanging in galleries like Wynwood in Miami and exhibitions like ArtBasel in Hong Kong.

But is there something the four walls of a gallery can’t do that working in the street can? I dug a bit deeper to find out if he misses the more DIY aspect of creation.

“Well, I don’t have as much time as I used to. So that’s why I started Stick Together. Fans can apply to win a handmade artwork and it’s their job to put it up in their town on a street lamp.”

“It was working out really well until people started just keeping them for themselves! Which I guess is a compliment but totally stops the point of spreading street art to the people who love it.”

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It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it. Scaling a lamp post in the name of art.

I really love the idea of “Stick Together“, it’s just a shame the work he’s putting out there is so highly sought after that it soon began to find it’s place hanging in people’s homes instead of from streetlamps!

“…it [Stick Together] was working out really well until people started just keeping them for themselves! Which I guess is a compliment…”

With that increasing popularity, bigger and better opportunities come his way more and more often. So what has changed for him and his art with this rise in the urban art world?

“Well, I definitely can go bigger now in size, which was hard to imagine at first. It’s not easy to visualize the larger you go. Some things still take a while, other things don’t take a long as they used to, like re-creating artworks I’ve already made 5 or 10 times.”

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SXSW Eco Installation nearing completion

“I got used to being flexible too. You’re not always gonna find the same conditions all over the world, and that used to be scary but now it’s pretty cool.”

At the moment the website for Stick Together is a gallery page. It has been re-purposed to sell artwork in Miami this coming December.

The project itself transformed into an event where 50 artists painted live in Amsterdam. Now it’s taking some of those artists to Florida to showcase their work. Word has it that a re-launch is planned for the end of 2014 though, so keep checking back… There’s nothing to suggest that the Dutchman is planning on easing up any time soon either.

Expect some more work from Max over the coming months – “I’ll be hanging some work up around the world this year and next though, and you can always check that out on my Facebook page!” stciking together

Max reaching for the light at the Louvre in Paris. 

It was really cool to get the chance to fire a few questions Max’s way. I’m excited to see what Stick Together brings back in 2015, as well as what lies in store for the master of brown packing tape. Give him a wave if you see him clambering up a lamp post near you. Steven UKB

Vote for UKB – UK Blog Awards 2015

VOTE NOW to help UKB reach the UK Blog Awards final!

UK Blog Awards logo

If you’ve been keeping tabs on the Urban Kultur Facebook and Twitter profiles, you’ll probably have seen mention of this year’s blog awards, to be held in London again in early 2015.

In order to try and go one better than last year – where UKB came in as a runner-up to the fantastic “Skyliner” blog – I need your help again to reach the final shortlist.


Making the final shortlist earlier in 2014

Until December 3rd, voting takes place to select the top 10 Arts & Culture blogs in the UK. If you follow the blog on social media, enjoy reading blogs here, or would just like to show your support, I’d love it if you’d consider voting for UKB here. It would mean so much to make it to the final for the second year in a row, so hopefully with your support I will be in with a shout in 2015…

With just under a week left, you won’t have to endure this shameless self-promotion much longer, I promise!

Thanks for considering voting!


UKB Guest Mix #24 – Bail [UKB024]

This week for the UKB Guest Mix series I’m really happy to be able to host Bail, one third of the notorious party starters from the northwest, Beats of Rage.

This 1hr+ mix draws on bass, techno and acid house influences, but with a strong thread of electro leading you all the way through. Expect some thudding bass and bleeps from the off with wall to wall solid selections, some leaning on the obscure, that make this a musical education – strap in!

Also well worth checking out are some of Bail’s own productions, particular fan of Hokutan Horonai, a dark, techno track that I was originally put onto by Hypnotic Groove boss Jay Dub.

So, a little more on Bail and his involvement with the Beats of Rage crew. Described as “Preston’s original grimy electro & chunky house shakedown” the guys (T.F.Wizard, Hindle and, of course, Bail) aren’t afraid to wander from a well beaten track.

The Beats of Rage sound is an electronic melting pot, cutting-edge techno to off-kilter house & electro to whatever else the Beats of Rage DJ Team can throw into the mix. It’s a formula that’s received praise from notable ex-guests like Foamo, whose testimony does enough to peak my interest – “I’m not going back to Preston, they’re too mental.”

But although big-name guests might have been their primary focus in the past, they’re current mentality focusses solely on the music “…now it’s all about the party, the music, and nothing else. This has been liberating! We’ve been digging and searching, playing our favourite tunes & finding new music all the time. Back to what it’s all about.”

Taking a break for the remainder of 2014 – keep your eyes on the Beats of Rage website for 2015’s listings.



1. Miles – Plutocracy (Modern Love)
2. Broken English Club – Casual Sex (Jealous God)
3. 2 AM/FM – Maiden (Spectral Sound)
4. Peel MD – A Head Of (Borft)
5. Fake Left – Roots In The Sky (iS)
6. Phreak – Acid On (Logistic)
7. Silent Servant – Speed & Violence (Cititrax)
8. Fisherman – Dhow (Skudge White)
9. Fishermen – Palmistry (Kontra Muzik)
10. I:Cube – 123 (Versatile)
11. Cottam – Harsh Side Effects (Machine)
12. Primo – Africa (London Housing Trust)
13. Chris & Amir – Dark Memories (Anunnaki Cartel)
14. Legowelt – Are You Truly Debonair? (Bunker)
15. FC Mchn – Unkool (London Housing Trust)
16. MC Unknown – Untitled (Logistic)
17. John Heckle – Cactus Jack (M>O>S)
18. Daniel Andréasson – What’s My Name? (John Heckle Remix) (Zodiac)
19. Tapirus – I Really Hope We Can Meet Again (Midnight Shift)
20. Chris Mitchell – Aquanauts (Anunnaki Cartel)