Urban art in Galicia

Painting on walls is no longer as frowned upon as it was in the past, although not in just any old way, of course. More and more city councils are turning to urban art as a way of combating ugliness, taking advantage of the opportunity to boost tourism and give life to urban centres, with proposals that started out as local and eventually became international. Little by little, as we have them in sight, we are recognising the authorship; for example, we are sure to find Yoseba MP’s “super-grandmothers” in more than one place… There is talk of “open-air museums”, of “routes” through the cities to contemplate the murals and take the obligatory photo… Most of the paintings represent human figures on an enormous scale, so that, suddenly, the cities are full of giants…

One of the tourist attractions of the city of Ferrol is As Meninas de Canido. And what is this? Going back in history, let’s go back to 2008. That year, Eduardo Hermida had the idea of painting some of Velázquez’s Meninas, in his own style, on a façade in his neighbourhood, one of those neighbourhoods in which at that time it was not very appealing to go for a walk, due to the state it was in. This was the germ of what over the years would become a well-known international urban art festival. Every year, on the first weekend of September, the event brings together around 100 artists from all over the world, who leave their mark on the upper quarter of Ferrol. Besides being able to attend their work in progress, we have concerts, conferences, workshops, gastronomic fair, handicrafts… The padere of the idea is also the guide of the tourist routes to Canido offered by the city council. Today there are more than 450 murals giving life to the neighbourhood, which used to be more grey.

Another example of a city council involved in urban art is Carballo. Here, linked to the initiative “Tearing down walls with paint”, the Rexenera Fest, Carballo’s international public art festival, has been organised since 2014. Since then, it has been held every year during the first week of spring. Today, the city already has more than 70 murals on walls and party walls and, of course, it has its own tourist route, by areas: O Chorís, A Milagrosa, Rego da Balsa, Pazo da cultura and A Lagoa.

In 2015, the “Vigo City of Colour” project was launched in Vigo, with which Galicia’s most populated city also joined the street art trend. Since the first edition, the city centre has been renewed by brush, roller and spray. On the other hand, the Mural Battle, a 6-hour graffiti battle with a theme, in which the prize is to paint a wall, is now in its sixth edition. The city council proposes three routes to walk through different areas of the city to contemplate the works.

It can be said that this urban art is already something inherent to a greater or lesser extent in big cities, but who would have thought that in the heart of Ribeira Sacra we would find “Art in the air”, which is what they call there the 1.5 km tourist route to see the murals? Well, yes, the municipality of Quiroga has taken advantage of the project “A touch of colour in Ribeira Sacra”, promoted by the Ribeira Sacra tourism consortium, to really give colour. The premises are that the paintings refer to the land, or to popular characters, or to places or local products, such as wine, honey and oil. In addition to 12 murals, which is quite a lot for a town of around 3,200 inhabitants, there are also sculptures and themed benches.

With such a proliferation of urban artists, it is logical that three Galician murals were finalists for the Best Mural in the World 2023 (according to the renowned platform Street Art Cities). Let’s remember that the Julio César mural by Diego As from Lugo, in front of the wall of Lugo, had already been the best of the year 2021. This year’s finalists were: Yoe33, also from Lugo, nominated for Corpora o A Castrexa, in Lugo (chosen as the best of June); Lula Goce, from Baiona, for A Dona do Esteiro, in A Ramallosa, in Nigrán; and Sfhir, from Madrid, for the untitled mural depicting a cellist playing, in Fene, A Coruña. And who won the prize?… Sfhir’s mural! Lula Goce’s came second and Yoe33’s third. Congratulations to all of them! The winner, by the way, inaugurated the Perla Mural Fest, in Fene, held from 7 to 13 August 2023, in memory of the disappeared Sala Perla, a very significant venue for the neighbourhood, which began as a party hall in the 60s of the last century. Virginia Bersabé and Rubén Paz Trece Trazos also took part in the festival. After this success, there are sure to be many editions in the future. And, for Sfhir, many trips painting around the world. One thing is clear: to see the best murals in the world, you have to come to Galicia.

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