Lonely Planet listed Belgium’s second city Antwerp as a must visit for obvious reasons as its dazzling architectural and cultural contrast. Next to it’s fashion scene, food culture and diamond dealers Antwerp has a lot to offer for city-trippers. This year, in 2018, Antwerp also pays tribute to Peter Paul Rubens and the Baroque legacy with a year full of celebration… but what a lot of people don’t know is that Antwerp has an impressive open air gallery.
With the eclectic project ‘Baroque Murals’ the city of Antwerp asked local artist Rise One to invite three international artists to create a couple of ephemeral murals in the city centre.
Rise One, part of the Aerosolkings, earned his stripes organising events like Meeting of Styles Belgium and has been a graffiti writer for 20 years. He asked Astro, Smug and El Mac to leave their “baroque inspired” mark in the city centre establishing an interesting dialogue between Baroque and these contemporary artists.
“I’ve been organising street art tours since last year and with the Baroque Murals I altered my route in the city centre to pass them all … and everybody absolutely loves them! They’re really interested in how these walls got created and who the artists are.” Tim from Street Art Antwerp
The ‘Baroque Murals’ project emphasises that Antwerp needs to show it’s public art, because people, not only visitors, want to know where they can find all these hidden gems.
The ‘Baroque Murals’ is a welcomed edition to the art already on the streets. Antwerp has a long-standing tradition of graffiti writing and organising international events. From the early nineties graffiti writers emerged in the footsteps of the rising graffiti scene in the US, and the “Muntplein” was the graffiti hotspot for years.
During that time it was hard to organise graffiti projects because artists were looked upon as vandals. Thanks to different actors, especially Arno Arnouts and his infamous Bug-T jams, young writers found a place to develop their skills. Arno Arnouts is considered the graffiti godfather of Antwerp and mentor of many artists who now emerged, he helped artists like Rise One, Joachim, Dzia and many others.
Arno Arnouts is still very active and well respected, he is currently curating a huge project ‘PillaAr 12’, where 150 artists will paint 82 pillars on 29th-30th of June.
Antwerp also hosts the Meeting of Styles Belgium, this year it will take place on August 10-12th, but it has been around Antwerp for 20 years now. Since 2013 on the epic location of the ‘Zomerfabriek’ in Berchem, the street art district in Antwerp. Here you can find 3000m² of art, enough to fill your day!
In recent years there is a new wind that promotes the Antwerp street art, on social media you can find up-to-date information on Street Art Antwerp. An initiative of a passionate street art hunter, Tim Marschang, who maps all street art and graffiti in and around Antwerp on a handy site. Thanks to the growing popularity of his street art walks, the general public learns and appreciates this growing art form better.
Next to these street art tours Tim plays an active roll in organising new projects in Antwerp. Last year he invited about twenty artists to Merksem (a district north of Antwerp) and early this year he was the driving force to help the Columbian embassy invite the prestigious Vertigo Graffiti crew from Bogota to paint their epic wall at the local library.
Antwerp is vast becoming a street art city because of all the activities and it doesn’t go unnoticed! Several well known artists are looking at Antwerp to pass through on their European trip, and it looks like at least one massive project will happen next year, but knowing the local scene this will only be the tip of the iceberg.
So what are you waiting for, Antwerp is perfect spot to start your street art hunts in Hasselt, Ghent, Lier and Mechelen! And if you’re wondering where to look for all these beauties… Street Art Antwerp is the founding member of this great platform called Street Art Cities, an online community based platform already active in 187 cities around the world. And with their amazing Free Street Art Cities app you can already visit 20+ cities around the world and more cities are added soon.
So next time you’re in Antwerp, wander through the streets and look for all these wonderful walls and keep an eye out on the FB page Street Art Antwerp for up to date info and tour dates if you want to see some live painting action.
Photo/Writing credit Street Art Antwerp