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Mural der mexikanische Künstlerin Adry del Rocio, Berlin 2019
Mural der mexikanische Künstlerin Adry del Rocio, Berlin 2019 © © Dept

Urban Art Berlin

The capital becomes an open-air gallery

the end of the grey

The motto chosen by the organisers for this year's BMF is "the end of the grey", and that is no exaggeration: with their colourful murals, the participating Urban Street Artists change the grey of Berlin into grey and make the city a more colourful place. 

The house walls of the capital actually offer perfect conditions for experimenting with colours and shapes. Since the 1970s, street artists have turned the often windowless gable sides of Berlin's apartment buildings into giant canvases. One of Berlin's best-known murals from this period is the "World Tree" by Polish artist Ben Wagin at Tiergarten S-Bahn station. Created in 1975, it had to make way in 2018 due to alterations and now decorates Lehrter Strasse 27-30 in Moabit in a new form.

Weltbaum (World Tree) by Ben Wagin at Lehrter Straße in Berlin Moabit
Weltbaum (World Tree) by Ben Wagin at Lehrter Straße in Berlin Moabit © visitBerlin, Foto: Dirk Mathesius

The triumph of urban art

The Murals are as different as the artists themselves: some cover the entire surface, others only a part. Many are colorful and bring color to the streets, some are strictly black and white. Comic style, stencil graffiti, text elements, abstract forms, there are no limits to fantasy in the Berlin murals. 

Since the turn of the millennium, urban art has made a triumphal march around the world. In addition to graffiti and street art à la Banksy, façade art has also become a global phenomenon. The most sought-after muralists receive commissions from everywhere to design the public space with their unmistakable style. Gradually, more and more cities are celebrating urban art with official festivals, from the Upfest in Bristol to the MURAL Festival in Montreal.  With the Urban Nation Museum for Urban Contemporary Art, Berlin has a globally unique platform for urban art.

Berlin celebrates its Murals

In 2018, the street art group The Dixons hosted a Mural Fest in Berlin for the first time. From the end of May 2018, urban artists transformed Berlin facades into huge works of art with the help of scaffolding, mobile lifting platforms and lots of paint. Most of these murals can be found in Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain and Moabit. 

Among the artists of 2018 were firmly established stars of the Berlin street art scene. The Dixons took part themselves, in Mühlenstraße 6 near the Oberbaumbrücke you can find their Mural with a comic-style figure. El Bocho, one of the best-known street artists in the capital, created a wall in Holzmarktstrasse 25 with a recurring motif from his work: larger-than-life portraits whose style is reminiscent of Pop Art. El Bocho often depicts girls and women with wild, colorful hair who look at the viewer in an unrelated way, as in Holzmarktstraße. 

Berlin Mural Fest, Holzmarkt 25, Berlin
Berlin Mural Fest, Holzmarkt 25, Berlin © visitBerlin, Foto: Dirk Mathesius

Berlin Mural Fest is back

In September 2019 the time has come again. The Berlin Mural Fest (BMF) is coming back and offers further Urban Street Artists and Art Collectives the opportunity to help shape Berlin's face.

The special thing about the second Berlin Mural Fest is that it takes place in districts outside the S-Bahn ring. In 2019, the focus will no longer be on classic Berlin street art centres such as Kreuzberg or Friedrichshain. The majority of the new murals will be built in Marzahn-Hellersdorf, where the facades of GDR prefabricated buildings in particular will serve as urban canvases.

Mexican motives and photo realism in Märkischen Allee

  • The Märkische Allee is embellished by two urban artists. House number 158, a prefabricated building clad with small square tiles, is designed by Mexican artist Adry del Rocio. Del Rocio, who also designs award-winning 3D street pictures, often draws her art from motifs from her home country. Portraits of women and men with Aztec-inspired headdresses, geckos, cactus blossoms and ghostly faces, as seen at Día de los Muertos. 
  • Acute, the male half of Herakut, a street art couple founded in 2004, immortalizes itself in Märkische Allee 164. Together with Hera, Akut already participated in the BMF in 2018 and designed a mural in Luckauer Straße 14. Typical elements of her work are playful, photorealistic motifs combined with text elements: last year's mural shows a girl in a bear hoodie, the windows of the façade have become part of a building block tower. Next to it is the message: "My home might be no palace. But we can share it if you like". 

Marzahn becomes colourful

  • The murals by the Spanish artist Okuda San Miguel are probably among the most colourful of the BMF. His motifs are people, animals and mixed creatures, which he composes from rainbow-coloured geometric surfaces. He describes his style as pop surrealism and is inspired by the art of different cultures. In terms of content he wants to evoke the magic of animalistic ideas, the thought that animals and humans have a spiritual connection with each other. His Berlin Mural is created at Murtzaner Ring 31 in Marzahn. 
  • An internationally known artist with German roots works in Alte Hellersdorfer Straße 133. MadC, alias Claudia Walde, is originally from Bautzen and, like many other urban artists, had her beginnings as a sprayer. Although she has also sprayed photorealistically in the past, her more recent works are abstract. In her work, she is interested in transparency and the superimposition of colors. Most recently, she designed the interiors of a disused airport terminal in Dresden and a high-rise building in Jersey City. 

Only a few houses away, at Alte Hellersdorfer Straße 129, the Dixons cooperate extrawegously with the 3D video artist. What's special: extraweg develops a digital and animated version of the Dixons Murals so that visitors can bring it to life via the BMF app. 

Mural Fest Berlin, Wiener Straße 42, Berlin
Mural Fest Berlin, Wiener Straße 42, Berlin © visitBerlin, Foto: Dirk Mathesius

Old, New and Classic Motifs

  • Also in Hellersdorf, at Ludwigsfelder Strasse 14, a new work by an artist who created one of Berlin's most famous murals is being created: the Frenchman Victor Ash, whose 2007 mural Astronaut/Cosmonaut in Oranienstrasse 195 has long since become a Kreuzberg sight. Now a second astronaut/cosmonaut follows in the east of the city. In the immediate neighborhood sprayt Boogie, graffiti artist from Berlin. Boogie is primarily a writer, i.e. he designs lettering. He often immortalizes his name in ever new variations. 
  • The works of Aryz, Pichi Avo and Smug One are more in the city centre. The Spanish artist Aryz, whose trademark is the use of pastel colors, paints in Friedrichstraße 9. In recent years, his paintings with their monochrome surfaces and depictions of human bodies are reminiscent of neorealist art. Pichi Avo, two artists from Spain, who have been spraying together since 2007, work on the wall next to Aryz. In their works, they combine graffiti tags with photorealistic classical motifs, such as Greek statues. 
  • Smug One, who originally comes from Australia and now lives in Scotland, says that his artistic development from tags to comic-strip characters to photorealistic images took place of his own accord. In his pictures, people and animals are often seen in a homely harmony: for example in a mural in Glasgow, where a robin has settled on a man's hand. His Berlin mural was created at Manteuffelstraße 70 in Kreuzberg.

 

Mural Fest Berlin, Stromstraße 36, Berlin
Mural Fest Berlin, Stromstraße 36, Berlin © visitBerlin, Foto: Dirk Mathesius

In its second edition, the Berlin Mural Fest brings several innovations with it: in addition to the conquest of new rooms on the outskirts of Berlin, the organizers are increasingly relying on digital technology to supplement the murals. There was already an app for the BMF last year, and in 2019 visitors can bring the murals to life using the augmented reality function. In addition, users of the App Making-Off can watch videos to experience the creative process of the individual murals.

The official start of the Berlin Mural Festival on 7.9.2019 will be accompanied by events such as a nightwalk led by the Dixons. During this walk, a projection developed by Victor Ash adds new content to his astronaut/cosmonaut.