31 Dec BELGRADE STREET ART
If you visit Belgrade, you will soon understand why people call it the “Balkan Berlin”. It’s not a city of monuments: instead, its magic looms from its history, ruined architecture symbol of a both splendorous and tragic past, and mostly from its charming people. The visitor can early have the feeling of a city in a process of renovation, with a very active youth community which has a strong desire of modernization (here my post about the city with some recommendations).
This cultural live is visible form the street itself: Belgrade walls are used as a support for many interesting street artworks, some of them with an evident social message. Most of the graffiti are made by Serbian artists, but there are also few works by international painters. Here a small sample of the ones I liked the most during my visit:
Savamala is a former industrial zone by the river, below Brankov bridge (and where controversial Belgrade Waterfront urbanistic project will be placed). It became not long ago the creative hub of Belgrade (before it was a kind of wasteland which locals avoided), and it is visible not only inside the buildings but also from its out walls. One of the most recognizable works is a painting representing the colors of the Serbian flag through an anonymous crowd under a heavy layer of blue rocks and a bright red sky. I couldn’t find out the name of the artist, so any information will be more than welcome 🙂
A central point of this mentioned renovation of Savamala is Mikser House, a multidisciplinary space that hosts a café and Balkan Design Store (a very interesting concept store), and where many cultural events take place, from concerts to social projects and art exhibitions.
The façade is decorated by Imitation of Life. n°9 aka Evolutive Machine n°1 by Nevecrew, a Swiss based artists duo composed by Christian Rebecchi & Pablo Togni. This mural was painted during the Mikser festival in 2014, and has become a kind of landmark of the neighborhood.
Short but vibrant Hercegovacka Street is a place for music and graffitti artists: Tranzit, one of the most popular bars in this area, host a mural by SQON, an Italian street artist popular all around the world for his cats, an animal which is at the same timevery pupular in the city.
In this same Street, I found one of my favorites spots of the city: KC GRAD, a bar with extremely cool views of Sava river, with an art gallery upstairs. There was a photo exhibition when I was there, focusing in refugee crisis in Europe. As all the places in Savamala, it has a very genuine and special character, with a big social involvement. If you go out at night (and trust me, Belgrade is THE city for it) don’t miss this local.
La Santa de Belgrad, in Karadjordjeva Street, the border of Savamala, is one of the trademarks of the city. This huge mural was created in 2008 by REMED, the artistic name of Guillaume Alby, a Paris-born artista who lives and Works in Madrid. He was inspired by the history and architecture of Belgrade, a city which has been destroyed and rebuilt 38 times during its history. In his own words: This Santa has several hands and a hidden black face. Between her legs, an egg from which goes out life and civilization. One hand is holding it, protecting it. One other hand is sending lightening on the city to destroying it, but in her sleeve, there’s a white flag of peace.
Another place for street art in Belgrade is Cavketov Pasaz (right next to Terazijski Pasaz), where Ulična Galerija is located: these “gallery windows” host exhibitions of emerging Serbian artists in a truly underground and alternative context. This abandoned and ruined passage in the center of the city became the first project in Serbia exploiting the public space for an art gallery setting, in an enthusiastic way of restoring the urban landscape of the city. The public space thus gets a new function as a new center of culture, and visitors and passers-by have the opportunity to enjoy art in this unusual space.
What in former times was the most modern mall in the city, a place reserved for wealthy locals during communist period, is now being recuperated under the name of Belgrade Creative District after many years of abandon. There you will be able to find designer shops and concept stores… and of course art: I really liked a mural by TKV (The Fairy Queen), a woman artist born in Belgrade who now is spreading her amazing and recognizable stencils along the city.
One of my favorite Street artists, Italian BLU also left his print in Belgrade in 2009, through a mural with a clear social charge: at 6 Pop Lukina Street, there is a wall facing Brankova Street, hidden by a small gas station, where a huge black and white portrait of a metropolis (its teeth are buildings) devouring a green tree works as a metaphor of the transformation of the city.
Again an artwork against real estate bubble “Toit et moi”, made in 2008 (and again i don’t know the autor/authors, and ask for your collaboration):
Another place for street art in the city is Krsmanovićeva kuća na Terazijama (can’t translate this name, sorry…). The entrance to this inner square is made through a magnificent building in Terazije Avenue: it’s apparently an abandoned place, but it seems to be at the same time a meeting place for young people, and there are also some interesting graffitti. Going down the some stairs, there is a beer place with a great terrace perfect for spend an evening: Samo Pivo.
Not far from there, also in Terazije (number 40), there is New Zvezda Cinema, a symbol of the renovation of the city through popular and alternative culture. One of the most populars cinemas in Blegrade was bought and shut down. In 2014 the cinema was peacefully occupied by a group calling themselves the Movement for the Occupation of Cinemas (Pokret za okupaciju bioskopa) who cleaned up the theatre and started showing films for free, mostly classical. When I visited belgrade, during easter, the cinema was closed, as it only has activity during Summer months.
Apart form this (for me) main spots, there are dozens of other samples of (sometimes ephimeral) street art in this amazing city. When I stayed there, a very common motif were a pig and a hen with vegan consigns.
Belgrade art scene cannot be more alive and vibrant. At the very end Kneza Mihalila, there is another “Window Gallery” (less underground than the ones above), where Fine Arts students can exhibit and make public tehir work (vailable to buy at the faculty just around the corner).