Archives for posts with tag: street art Catalonia

La Modelo was a prison located in the central Eixample neighborhood of Barcelona, and was home to many political prisoners during the Franco dictatorship, and also the site of many executions, among them the killing of anarchist Salvador Puig Antich in 1974.

I used to live just across the street and it was always an imposing structure, though usually strangely quiet, except for the occasional karaoke nights that would echo out from over the walls, which occupied an entire city block.

The prison shut down definitively in 2017, after 113 years in operation. It is now an open space, and is used for tours, civic events, and most notably its walls now serve as canvases for urban art. Below you’ll find a selection from a recent trip I made to the area, which is located here.



The majority of the shots in this post (including the first-ever shot of myself) are the work of the urban pop artist TVBOY. They are part of a series of famous artists from the past with touches of the present, including a Frida Kahlo Iphone selfie–the shot in which I couldn’t resist joining the famous Mexican artist for a rare narcissistic arm’s length self-portrait. The shot of Serge Gainsbourg comes from the artist Valerie Maho, and the great Muhammad Ali in stencil was created by RAF Urban. The other image (from sm172) which I’ve included is a darker reflection on our pop-selfie culture and is a statement on the voyeuristic bystander syndrome which seems to be a side effect of all of us being able to record and photograph all that we see, while forgetting to experience it, or get involved when necessary.

This year’s Festa Major de Gràcia featured a new entry into the decorated streets: la Plaza del Poble Rumaní, the theme of which was one of the biggest cultural contributions from Gràcia’s vibrant gypsy community: la Rumba Catalana. While the decorations themselves had a difficult time competing with the more experienced streets, one feature which stood out from the rest was a huge mural which was painted on the wall of a neighboring school.

The mural is a collaboration between local schools, the local gypsy community, and the organization acidH (Catalan Association for Integration and Human Development). The three artists who participated are well-known in the Barcelona street art scene and this blog: Xupet Negre, Caesar Baetulo (sm172), and konair.

The images on the mural are a mix of the artists’ trademark characters and icons of Catalan culture.


Having a dog is a great excuse to get out and explore new areas of the city. My latest trips have taken me uphill, where the views of the city and the sea are marvelous, and there is also some nice street art hiding in the steep hills above the city.

The first few pictures come from the area near the Bunkers del Carmel, which served as the city’s defenses from fascist aerial attacks during the Spanish Civil War. The views are spectacular, and if you go during the week, you might be able to recapture some of the secluded off-the-beaten-track appeal. At the top of the hill you can find some walls which are painted with some murals, including one of the famous literary figure Don Quixote.

The rest of the photos are from the Vallcarca neighbourhood, which lies just next to Park Güell. This area is worth exploring as there are some interesting buildings and plazas, as well as some spectacular views of Barcelona spreading out toward the Mediterranean.

The dog days of summer are probably not the best time to explore this area as the sun seems to beat down a bit harder the higher you get, but a cloudy day in early autumn would be perfect for a climb, and besides, the pictures come out shadow-free on cloudy days.

For my second May post (which is actually hitting in June) I’ve decided to return to Gràcia, as I haven’t posted much from the surrounding area lately. Most of these shots come from strolls around the vila over the last three or four weeks. As suggested in the title, one of the more interesting ones is a portrait of tourists as paella-wielding, selfie-sticked zombie hordes who come to invade our quiet little neighbourhood nearly year-round. This sentiment can be seen in occasional graffiti which read “tourists go home”. As a foreigner who first came as a tourist, I’m a bit torn; while I recognize that tourism is vital to our local economy, and that a good majority of tourists are well-behaved and civilized, I also know as a resident what a putada it can be having the area so constantly crowded. On balance, I’m in favour of tourism, but I think that we need to start moving toward a more sustainable model. This is what the current city administration (in theory) is going for–a city planned and built for its residents, but also welcoming for tourists. A difficult happy medium to achieve, but a noble objective, in my humble opinion.

The other shots are rather random and generally political in nature, along with some anthropomorphized popsicles from konair, and some paste ups which have been appearing with increasing frequency.

Dressed to kill

I recently found this piece from the French artist Rice, who’s been sprinkling portraits all over Barcelona. Many can be found in Gràcia, however this one was on a doorway in the old city centre. I saw my first piece by Rice back in January or February, a portrait of Freddie Mercury which has disappeared under several layers of posters. Last I checked, part of Freddie’s chest was still visible from under a peeling concert poster.
The portrait we see here is relatively recent and I think very well-placed. Perhaps if we travelled back to a Friday or Saturday evening in the 50’s and turned on our x-ray vision, we could see this young woman, putting on the final touches before opening the front door to go out and meet her friends.

While enjoying an early-afternoon, pre-vermut/lunch wander through “la Vila”, I had the rare opportunity to observe artists working in broad daylight. At my local market, l’Abaceria, there was an event to transform the market into a work of art. I didn’t count, but there were artists working on nearly every outside surface of the market. I also learnt that I love the smell of spraypaint in the early afternoon…
This is my first attempt to post multiple photos, so please excuse any glitches that will most certainly occur.

High-Voltage Crucifix

A Dalí-like crucifix appeared on the metal cover of this electrical utility box in Gràcia about 2 months ago and has remained relatively unscathed, which is surprising for something which is in such easy reach of passersby. Perhaps it’s the warning sign above which keeps meddling fingers away. Or perhaps another power, higher and more mysterious. Makes me wonder, WWDD (What Would Dalí Do)?

200th Post!! Looking ahead...

As the title suggests, this will be my 200th post on this blog, which, according to the reading I’ve done on blogging, is quite an achievement. I’ve also built up a small, but loyal, audience, which has helped keep me motivated and inspired even in the times when I couldn’t post as often as I wanted. Moving forward, I hope to upgrade my blog and get my own domain name, possibly make some music videos featuring my favorite shots and footage, get out on the streets a bit more, and finally go back and fix some of my earlier posts, which deserve a bit more reflection and commentary. For all of you reading, and those of you visiting for the first time, thanks for the support, and I’ll see you for post 300!

Love on one side, the tree in between

This was a small stenciled image on a well-hidden doorway somewhere in the labyrinth that’s the old city centre of Barcelona. These modest silhouettes, who are just the slightly fatter, faceless cousins of stick figures are the stuff of bathroom doors and warning signs round the world. It’s nice to see that someone’s decided to throw a bit of love into the mix, despite the shadow of the evergreen obstacle.