“Barcelona graffiti is really colourful and free.” (Zosen)
Important pioneers of the Graffiti culture in Barcelona have been the crew Trepax in the 1980ties which were known for their stencil art. They were inspired by a video they saw about artists in Paris that were using stencils to make Graffiti. In the 1990ties the TSK crew became one of the most important among the Graffiti writers. Others important figures were DTY or A3.
Around the years 1992 and 1993, there has been an explosion of Barcelona’s Graffiti scene with the birth of MTV and the hip hop culture swapping over from the USA. As a consequence people from the periphery started to write. Before that time, the Graffiti scene in Barcelona was more like a kind of family where everybody knew each other due to the small number of people sharing that hobby. Though before, there even have been legal walls in the subway which stopped with the transformation and regeneration process of the city owing to the Olympics in 1992. In the late 90ties Barcelona’s Graffiti writers started to cross the borders of the common Graffiti art and started experimenting with colors and techniques so that to Barcelonese Graffiti nowadays is referred with attributes like colorful and free.
The golden age of Graffiti in Barcelona is nominated to the years 2001 till 2005.
Today, Barcelona is known for its extention of Graffiti spread all over the city. You can find Graffiti on walls, trains, in art gallerys, even legally painted on the shutters of shops. The last space is very common in Barcelona and out of it, collectives like “Persianes Lliures” and “Entrotlla’t” came into being. These projects represent a way for writers to run free their creativity in a legal way, which also brings the writers some income through their passion.
Though, the number of Graffiti writings drew down tremendously during the last years. A change in Barcelonas policy regarding the illegal produced Graffiti is the reason. Like in other cities, there have been provided some legal walls, such as those at “Las tres chimineas” at Paral-lel, as a measure of reduction of the illegal paintings. Lately, the prosecution of Graffiti on the streets assumed greater proportions with the imposition of fines for those shopkeepers who allow artists to paint on their shutters.
In the following we want to present some artists that are representative for Barcelona’s graffiti scene.
El Pez – The happy style
The writer Pez, born in Barcelona in 1976, made a himself a name all over Europe for his special fish symbol that first appeared next to one of his tags and then later became the signature itself. The fish emblem had a special feature: a huge smile. This characteristic he introduced because he wanted to pass on good vibes to its observer.
He started writing in 1999 in the suburbs of Barcelona and later on pursued this activity while travelling in European countries. Due to his big presence in the streets, he rose very quickly and got to fame during a few years. Later on he also made use of other animal figures, like elephants or giraffes, applying to each of them the big smile of its first character. Owing to this individuality the style became to be known as “Barcelona Happy Style”.
The originally Argentinian writer Zosen moved to Barcelona in the year1989. One year before he had started writing in his home town Buenos Aires, during the same time as he began skating. When he came to Barcelona, he was one of the few people practicing Graffiti. The scene to that time was more underground and his influences he self attributes to the Graffiti artists of his neighborhood.
Now he’s known all over the world, for his individual art that’s often politically inspired. Furthermore he’s wearing a mask to effect that people focus more on his art than on himself, rejecting the trend that to the artists’ image is payed more intention than to the art itself. His works are exhibited in several gallerys and murals over the world. In April for example he’s going to be part of the street art exhibiton “Barcelonas finest” in Paris, together with the artists Kenor, Göla and H101. Besides his own practicing, he also organizes Graffiti workshops.
MONTANA COLORS – A little aerosol story.
The Barcelonese company Montana Colors are today the leaders of the spray paint market in Europe. Founded in 1994 in Barcelona, Montana Colors S.L. was the first company to produce paint sprays that were especially made for graffiti writers. It all began with a marketing research of one of the employees of the paint spray company Felton. Jordi Rubio discovered while doing his research that one shop which was selling their paint had above-average turnover. On his search for the reason behind, he got to know the famous graffiti artists Kapi and Moockie, who worked in this shop of garden articles. He discovered that the new urban phenomenon Graffiti was at the bottom of everything and that Kapi was the reason for young people being drawn in this shop to buy colors. Based on his new knowledge Jordi Rubio proposed to his company the production of special Graffiti articles, which was denied. The consequence was that Jordi stepped out of the company to found his own company together with his colleague Miquel Galea. Montana Colors S.L. was born.
With the help of Moockie and Kapi they developed the first paint spray that was especially adapted to the needs of a “grafitero”. The result was impressive and the cans started to be sold in the legendary “Game Over Shop”, later called “the Bunker” the first shop of Barcelona that was specialized in Graffiti items. Over time writers of other European countries came to Barcelona to collect the spray cans and Montana Colors started exporting in 1995. After the development of the first spray further ones followed, such as “Montana Hardcore”, always innovated and customized for the specific requirement of Graffiti painters.
Today Montana Colors paint is very popular between Graffiti writers of the whole world because of its high quality so that even artists of the USA are importing “the best aerosol you can get”.