Street Art and Graffiti is illegal in Berlin, you wouldn’t think so though as almost every surface, wherever you look or walk, is covered with paint, stencils and paste-ups, giving this iconic city it’s reputation as the street art capital of Europe.
During my stay, I learnt to look out for a few of the better-known artists. Sobr who is known for his dancing girls and El Bocho, for his Lucy series that shows her killing her cat, among them. There is even a wall where a Banksy piece once took centre place, until somebody came in the night and removed most of the wall and art, for themselves. Berlin I’m told, is also the only place where Bansky was ever arrested for ‘damage to property’ yet set to face a court hearing, managed to get out of the country before his identity could be revealed to the world.
As for terminology, what we would call graffiti is actually the ‘tag’ and ‘letter’ style. While street art is all of the rest. There are stencils and paste ups too, which are quick to put up and these artists often create and put up as many as 40 around the city in a night. This activity is referred to as bombing, ironic in a city such as Berlin that saw itself under attack during World War II. This remains a male dominated world, with 85% of all urban art still created by men, something that doesn’t seem to be fast changing. Some of my varied discoveries in my photoset of below.
An excellent article on Das Bombing: Graffiti in Germany and Europe.
More observant visitors to the city may notice the small figures that have popped up on many of Berlin’s street signs. Made from cork and skewers, the figures appear in various hatha yoga poses and have become a firm fixture of the Berlin street art scene with over 500 street yogis appearing in various locations throughout Berlin. The artist behind these figures is a Berlin artist, a natural health practitioner and yoga teacher. He was inspired by the artist Slinkachu from London, who crafted tiny figures and had them swimming in puddles or skateboarding in orange peel.
Have a look at Street Art Berlin for some inspiration and additional information. They even offer an international artist exchange as they want to support a living international street art scene. Worldwide. If you are an artist and wants to go to Berlin they can give you support in legally finding great walls and excellent places to paint or even help to organise an exhibition. Urban art and street art can be found everywhere in Berlin. On screens, façades, doorways and on walls, but also in places where one might not expect to find art. Corners of houses, bridge piers and the roadside become canvases for art that often has a political message.
Unconventional forms of art such as urban knitting and guerrilla gardening offer new options for aesthetic expression that serve the common good. Public art inspires Berliners and visitors alike. It makes the cityscape more colourful and can be appreciated by everyone. Berlin’s street art is known around the world: artists such as El Bocho, XOOOOX and Evol live and work here.
** Pics sourced on Pixabay.