Street art is one of the many hallmarks of Barcelona. It has been filling the city and adding to the art scene in Spain since the early 1990s.
Barcelona street art is widely accepted to be some of the most interesting in the world; created by artists from around the globe. The street art scene in the city is growing and artists are becoming increasingly recognised for their outstanding, daring, and evocative work.
With a history of street art, sun, and relaxed penalties from the government, Barcelona grew as a hub for art lovers. In terms of finding information on the internet, much of what is known on the street art movement in Barcelona comes from government websites such as, www.barcelona.cat/metropolis, travel blogs, or local magazines.
Although this information is insightful and informative, a new perspective from the inside of Barcelona’s street art movement is presented here, through the lens of the locally known street and graffiti artist, Juan Guiñazu, also known as Madcins.
Through the perspective of Madcins, I learned about the creation of street art, the community of street artists in Barcelona, and the legality of it all.
When it comes to creating powerful street art, it is important to know where to start.
So, where does an artist start in their creation?
Madcins: Finding a spot. You have to start by finding a good spot. You can walk for hours just looking until you find one, but that’s what you have to do. Sometimes when I’m making murals, I use the app Wallspot.
How does Wallspot work?
Madcins: It’s an app showing different spots for painting murals in Barcelona. You can book a spot or a wall and paint there. Then you can upload pictures in the app. It also tells you about art and graffiti events in the city.
According to Madcins, one of the most important moments for street artists that create incredible works throughout Barcelona's streets is finding a ‘spot'. The spot is where the artist will go to extreme lengths to display their work to the city. Street artists are known to scale buildings, walk shaky rooftops, and more in order to create their works.
With Barcelona being such a central art hub, one can see street art flooding the city on every corner. From Instagram feeds to narrow streets, you are sure to spot a piece of work somewhere.
The street art movement in Barcelona essentially fills a bustling beach city with more vibrant colours. Each work can grab your attention or evoke feelings from its audience. Ranging from realism, abstract, cartoons, and much more, each work tells a unique story.
This piece (pictured above) is great. Can you describe your style when it comes to street art?
Madcins: I use what I have available and make something beautiful and colourful. I always try to combine powerful colours. I paint smiling, kind of crazy or creepy faces and combine them with phrases that I like; either from a song or something that I read. Also, with the phrases, I try to displace them in my pieces so the viewer has to take the time to put them together.
The street art movement created a tight-knit community of artists in Barcelona. The city is very concentrated and it is highly likely that you will will see the same faces reemerge from time to time. The same thing goes for street artists, most of the artists either know each other or know of each other.
There are hot spots for street artists and graffiti artists in the city. One of the most commonly visited spots for street artists is Montana Shop. Montana Shop is an extremely popular art supply store with a wide range of spray cans, markers, and paint. The shop also holds a few exhibitions throughout the year with a live DJ, free beer, and displays artists such as Os Gemeos among many others.
Do you often see street art and recognise the artist that created it?
Madcins: Yes, most artists have a unique style that is recognisable and when I see it, I know who it is. With local artists, it's easy to recognise. Also, the thing about Barcelona is that artists come from all over the world to paint street art and graffiti here, so there's street art that I don't always recognise. It's kind of like a street gallery [laughs].
There is no doubt that street art brings aesthetic and cultural value to Barcelona, however, a question is posed of how legal street art is. Truth be told, the Ajuntament made a clear distinction between what will be considered legal and illegal street art in 2006. It was voted that public spaces are illegal to paint, whereas the doors of private business are legal.
There are places within the city like Parque de Las Tres Chimeneas, where artists can go to paint legally. The legality of creating street art in Barcelona does not deter artists from continuing to paint. With the street art community being so resilient, the effort to gain respect and artistic recognition continues in Barcelona.
How does the government making street art illegal in most places affect you and your work?
Madcins: It doesn't [laughs]. I paint in both illegal and legal spots but for me, it's more fun painting in illegal spots. I just want to show my art to the world so I paint wherever I can. Barcelona wouldn't be the same without street art.
I've seen your work in many parts of the city. Is there anywhere else someone could see it?
Madcins: Yes for sure. I have a website where people can buy pieces I paint on canvas or skateboards. Stuff like that. It’s growing. Anyone can check it out. Thanks, guys.
Thanks to you.
Painting by Madcins on www.madcinsart.com
By Ananda Kalonji
About the author
Ananda Kalonji is an American creative and entrepreneur based in Barcelona. She works promoting artists from around the world. She is passionate about travel, culture, and writing poetry. You can find out more about her latest projects with artist Juan Guinazu at www.madcinsart.com