Each month, Street Art Today selects the seven best murals of the past month. 2020 is almost here, but not before we have listed the 19 most stunning murals of 2019. Enjoy!
January / Fintan Magee
Who holds the foundation we walk on? This is the question raised by “Four men holding Roman columns”, Fintan Magee’s latest mural painted in Goa for ST+Art India. The artwork focuses on workers’ rights and power structures; this strong social issue was inspired by the fact that 16 millions of Indian people work abroad. Apparently ‘effortlessly’, they hold economies that became dependant on Indian labour, like the four men depicted in the mural hold a Roman column, which –in turn- symbolizes wealth, opulence and imperial power.
Photo by ST+Art India
February / DULK
For Artify Jaco festival in Costa Rica, Dulk has just completed “Fragile”: a vivid mural telling the story of the toucan Grecia. Injured and with most of its upper beak destroyed, Grecia survived thanks to the local community, which organized a crowd funding for the first 3D print prosthetic beak. Dulk was fascinated by this story to the point that not only he depicted Grecia in the large-scale mural commissioned by the festival, but also arranged to meet her while he was painting in Costa Rica.
Photo by Dulk
March / Marat Morik
In this mural curated by Madrid’s urban art fair Urvanity, the Russian artist Marat Morik combines his background in graffiti with his life-long passion for drawing and painting. Marat Morik’s current focus is ‘texture’, hence this collaged image where abstract and realism come together. The resulting piece is a multi-layered, multi-faceted portrait of Russian poet Anna Akhmatova.
Photo by Flavia Gurrea Usera
April / STRØK
For Nuart Aberdeen 2019 the Norwegian artist STRØK, aka Anders Gjennestad, realized this massive mural together with several smaller, spontaneous pieces hidden around the Scottish city. STRØK’s iconic figures can be seen jumping and climbing across walls all around the world. They are characterized by intense shadows, an unexpected perspective and a surprising composition that defies gravity.
Photo by Brian Tallman
April / Monkeybird
The French duo MonkeyBird realized one of their iconic large-scale stencils for the opening of the Urban Art Biennale in Volklingen. Titled “Der Volksaufstand” (The Popular Uprising), the artwork is inspired by the industrial past of the area.
Photo by Viktor Steinbach
April / L’Outsider
In this wall the French artist L’Outsider brings typography to the next level. Monochromatic yet energetic, this artwork is built by juxtaposing several layers with different textures. This mural was created for Palma Festival after the artist spent some time in Caen for an art residency.
Photo by Thomas Munerel
May / Pejac
Pejac painted three poetic interventions within the oldest prison in Spain. The Penitentiary Center of El Dueso is located in the artist’s hometown of Santander. The first one -“The shape of days”- is about perseverance. According to the artist, this is one of the most valuable virtues in prison. With the help of the inmates, Pejac painted thousands of the hash marks traditionally drawn on the walls of the cells. Moreover, he shaped them as a big tree, which recalls the forest just behind the barbed wire. Finally, two more pieces –“Hidden Value” and “Hollow Walls”- complete this powerful, site-specific series.
Photo by Pejac
May / ZEDZ
Dutch graffiti legend ZEDZ realized this massive mural in Cologne for the urban art project [re/dis]cover. Active in the streets since 1984, ZEDZ has kept his passion alive by pushing the boundaries of graffiti towards new frontiers. He explored abstract typography, architecture, street furniture and design -while staying true to the core of graffiti. In this abstract mural, sharp lines and color fields overlap to create different volumes and perspectives. As a result, the viewer is captured in the overall movement.
Photo by Georg Barringhaus
May / INTI
The Chilean artist Inti painted this stunning mural for Lyon’s Peinture Fraiche Festival. “Soleil” depicts one of Inti’s iconic albino figures with the eyes blinded with roses, another recurring theme of the artist. Once again, Inti used the typical bright colors of ancient South American culture. We loved the detail of the scissors on the overalls, because they seem like melting with the white background of the mural.
Photo by Vinny Cornelli
June / Sepe
Polish artist Sepe painted “There’s no sea…” for the ‘informal’ art project Od/Blokowanie 2.0 curated by fellow artist and prolific adbuster Lump from Szczecin. With his new style that recalls watercolors, Sepe painted a beautiful mural inspired by the color palette of the neighborhood.
Photo by Sepe
June / Aryz
A beautiful artwork painted in Angers (France) by Spanish artist Aryz who, after mastering pop-surrealism on walls all around the world, has now definitely entered a new artistic phase. After an accident that made him unable to use his index finger (thus the spray-can!), the artist began painting with brushes and rollers. The new style he developped in the latest years is rougher, more direct and rich in pastel shades.
Photo by Aryz
June / Li-Hill
“Process of Acceleration” by Aaron Li-Hill acknowledges the status of technological innovation hub to the French city of Grenoble. Likewise these figures, humans advanced through history thanks to technology. However, it’s crucial to understand how this progress towards a deeper knowledge of the world around us is used and how does it affect our lives. At the top of the wall sits an architectural drawing of Grenoble’s innovative research center in the field of particle acceleration, the ESRF.
Photo by Li-Hill
August / Vesod
Italian artist Vesod painted this massive mural for the festival Urban Morphogenesis (Moscow Region). Inspired by Italian Futurism and Renaissance Art, Vesod’s style is between abstract and figurative. Time is frozen into Vesod’s shattered, crystallized figures. First he deconstructs them, then he overlaps the different visual layers through bright geometric abstractions. His compositions suggest a strong sense of movement, a dynamism that is accurately created through the harmonization of proportions. Although he began painting in the streets with graffiti writing (in the late 1990s), he only uses brushes and wall paint for his murals.
Photo by Andrew Gubenko
August / SAN
Invited in Ordes (Galicia) by the festival Desordes Creativas, Spanish artist Daniel Muñoz (a.k.a. SAN) painted a meaningful piece about writing and drawing in the streets. Titled “Jerga”, this artwork is a manifesto about the creative process in the public space. On the facade of the building, SAN wrote “Talking about the public space from up here is like taking pictures of the breath, an act that poisons and purifies: between the raw and the burned…” Once again, his work establishes a dialogue about the sociological discourse of contemporary art with all kinds of person who might walk past his mural.
Photo by SAN
September / Jofre Oliveras
Made during Nuart festival 2019, “Beholders” by Spanish artist Jofre Oliveras critically reflects on refugee crisis. Painted in his typical photorealistic style, the mural critiques the way the media and the art world are addressing this crucial issue. By stressing how both artists and the general public are passive observers of this critical situation, Jofre states that simply spectating -rather than actively helping- isn’t enough.
Photo by Giulia Blocal
September / M-City
Painted in Ragusa for FestiWall, this piece by Polish stencil artist M-City is part of a series of works dedicated to the world of the titans, semi-human protagonists of a world in decline. In M-City’s words: “In the desolation of distant lands, a carriage proceeds to check the fortifications, under the watchful eye of the Lord. Some slaves pull the carriage, others repair the cages, with their work they are changing the world, living hidden behind the walls corrupted by time in search of energy among the mechanical residues of civilization. The simple human eye cannot grasp the omnivorous lust of the corporations, it can, at most, be a part of them, as a final consumer. This is the condition of our times”
Photo by M-City
October / Akue
While he worked on this mural in Apatity (Russia), Anatoly Akue was inspired by a trip to Oslo he had back in 2016. Since then, the Russian artist has created a series of artworks inspired by the power and the deep symbols of the sculptures he saw in Oslo’s Vigeland Park. The gesture depicted here also references to the Tibetan way of blessing and empowering people, hence the title: “Blessing”. Akue often incorporates Buddhist philosophy and images into his artworks, next to influences he gets from his background in graffiti.
Photo by Anatoly Akue
December / 1UP
While in Miami for the annual street art gathering in Wynwood, the legendary graffiti crew 1UP painted “One United World Piece”. The mural is quite different from their usual, illegal production. In Miami they took their time to draw a hyper-detailed piece inspired by the videogame Super Mario: a world map that is also a retrospective on their work.
Photo by 1UP
December / Alex Face
Thai artist Alex Face painted one of his iconic bunnies in Pai (Thailand). The bunny Mardi, which was initially inspired by his daughter, represents the feeling of confronting a troubled world as a vulnerable child. A rabbit is a victim and Alex Face’s bunnies are babies worrying about the future -theirs and of the planet. In this piece, which is titled “Life is Short”, Mardi hunted a smaller rabbit.
Photo by Axel Face
With this recap of the best murals of 2019, we want to wish you a happy 2020