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Barcelona is an increasingly cosmopolitan city but still maintains a very strong Catalan identity. Diversity is the word that better defines Barcelona, diversity of cultures, of architecture, a true melting-pot.
Take a stroll through the city and immerse yourself into different artistic elements on almost every corner, thus creating a true mosaic of styles
That's why walking through town you can find multiple artistic styles that together form one of the most interesting and fervent places in Europe.
Graffiti and other urban art expressions add colour and personality to ample areas of some of the city's most iconic barrios (neighbourhoods). From Plaza Catalunya you can easily reach the very heart of Barcelona’s urban culture, the Raval, the quarter in which the bar is located.
Vintage shops, bars, cafés and the renowned skate-scene are the key elements of this area, Which boasts contemporary art wherever you look.
You’ll spot graffiti, stencils, stickers, posters and all kinds of other unusual art forms scattered around on walls, lamp-posts, roofs or any other imaginable urban surfaces.
Bàlu is an urban street artist specialized in the stencil technique. Based in Barcelona, he travels across Europe & United States.
He collaborated with Le Méridien Barcelona creating the official image of the Le Pop Cocktail Bar, a beautiful graffiti of the famous icon Barbarella.
Read the interview to discover more about the artist.
INTERVIEW WITH BÀLU
How long have you been painting?
I have painted for as i long as I can remember and professionally I have been doing this for more than 10 years.
Why did you decide to collaborate with Le Méridien Barcelona?
I saw it as a unique opportunity to expand my business worldwide. In addition, I like the hotel and the people who work there.
Where are you from?
I’m from the Basque Country but I have been living in Barcelona for years.
Why have you decided to move to Barcelona?
It’s a city with a wide variety of cultural activities and a strong creative mind-set. It offers greater opportunities than Donosti. In addition, it is a beautiful city and one of the best to live in.
How do you describe your style? What technique do you use?
I use the stencil technique. Every piece is made with 10 to 15 layers of paper templates, cut by hand with a cutter and thanks to a colour scheme superposition; I am able to add volumes to landscapes or portraits.
When you give each template a distinct colour range, it allows you to create any volume you want.
Do you find inspiration in other art forms?
When looking at the history of creative movements, I am especially passionate about the people who changed the way people saw art in their specific period.
The reason why I am so fascinated by this is because in order to revolutionize a style in the world of art, a lot of thought has to be put into it. Only by doing this can we change and develop a new artistic movement, sentiment and even a value.
There are many examples of artists who did exactly this: Malevich, Velazquez, Goya, Duchamp, Jorge Oteiza, Picasso and even pre-historic art was revolutionary.
I get my inspiration from philosophers such as Heidegger and Nietzsche and architects like Rafael Moneo, Mies van der Rohe or Frank Lloyd Wright. All of this is a consequence of an initial thought and of a “revolutionary” wish to perceive a new art, a feeling and a new value.
What I do when I do interventions in public spaces is somehow similar to what they did. I try to break with academism, the current rules and institutionalism of art in order to create a new language and offer art that is accessible to all. It is a way of giving art back to the city.
What makes you select one or the other character for your graffiti?
My art-works have a strong link with the public space itself. When I was living in New-York, my creations had this characteristic. I placed Prince in the Prince Street Metro Station, Jay Z in the J Z lines, Thom York in the York Street Metro Station, Bill Murray under the “POST NO BILLS” letters… It’s a way to change the meaning of things or even the significance of the regular public signage.
It is incredible to see and feel how these signs change the way people interpret them and how the citizen know them. They even become part of their collective memory, transforming into art pieces of this century.
Where can we find your street art?
I have done interventions in cities such as Madrid, Donosti, Barcelona, Vitoria Gasteiz, New-York, Berlin,..
Have you exhibited your work in galleries? If so, where?
I showed my work in the Spanish embassy in Washington DC, in the University of New-York NYU and I did exhibits in various galleries in New-York and Barcelona.
What did you study? Why did you choose to stop everything to pursue your dream?
I started studying architecture and it was then when I found my way back to the art I had loved doing since childhood. I discovered artists such as Jorge Oteiza, who motivated me to do street-art.
What areas of Barcelona do you recommend for exploring different forms of urban art?
Raval, Gothic and Born neighbourhoods.