In a few days the book “Street Art Belgrade” by Aleksandar Djordjevic will be released in bookstores. For this release an exhibition will be held in Paris. This gives an opportunity for StreetArt360 to talk about Belgrade, one of the street art capital cities in Europe, present you Aleksandar’s book and invite you to visit the exhibition that will take place in Paris this month.
Event in Paris: Belgrade Street Art “Face au Mur”
The exhibition “Face au Mur” will take place at the Serbian culture centre in Paris on the 23rd of September during the week of foreign cultures.
The aim of the exhibition “Face au mur” and the book “Street art Belgrade” from which the artwork will be exhibited is to present the amazing street art of Belgrade.
Street art is exposed to time and emotions, and whit exhibition and book our desire is to preserve this specific art form, to document it and make it more visible, because it represents an indispensable part of the urban surrounding and vibrant, artistic part of Belgrade. The book “Street Art Belgrade” and the exhibition “Face au mur” are the most comprehensive overview of street art in the Serbian capital, both stylistically and historically and they will take you on amazing walk trough streets of Belgrade.
Paris had a big impact on the Belgrade graffiti scene. One of the examples is the street artist Jens, who after his stay in Paris, brought a new style from Parisian streets to Belgrade, and thus revived and launched the street art of the 90s, which was almost dead due to the political and economic difficulties that the country was going through. Famous Parisian artists have visited Belgrade and left their artwork on the walls of the city (Black le Rat, REMED) on the walls, and many Serbian artists spent time in Paris, where they acquired new insights and inspiration for their street art.
During the opening and in the first days of the exhibition, famous Serbian artists Artez and TKV will create art that will represent connection between Paris and Belgrade. Also, visitors will have the opportunity to leave their mark on the “wall”.
The author of the book, Aleksandar Djordjevic is presently in Paris (till the 28th of September) and is available for interviews and also can be contacted via his email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Street artists will be in Paris from 22nd of September till 2nd of October and will be available for interviews, and also can be contacted via Facebook and email.
ARTEZ facebook Page – TKV Facebook Page and email email@example.com
Exhibition will be open from 23rd of September till 21st of October.
The exhibition is realized trough Ministry of culture and information and with support from the Serbian culture centre in Paris, the French Institute in Belgrade and FICEP (Forum des Instituts Culturels Étrangers).
A Short History of Street Art and Graffiti in Belgrade
Belgrade is the capital of Serbia. The city of Belgrade is one of the oldest settlements in Europe. If we take into account the Vinča culture, one of the most important prehistoric cultures of Europe, which evolved within the Belgrade area in the 6th millennium BC, by age Belgrade can be measured with cities such as Rome and Athens. Unfortunately, due to its geographical position and strategic location, located at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, where the Pannonian Plain meets the Balkans, the city was battled over in 115 wars and razed to the ground 44 times. Following the liberation of Belgrade during World War II, Russian soldiers marked houses and buildings without mines with words “provereno – min njet” (checked – no mines). These graffiti saved many lives.
The name of Belgrade (Beo – Grad) translates to “White city”, which has special meaning when we speak about the street art – and writings on the “white” walls of Belgrade.
The first graffiti in Europe appeared in Paris and Berlin. These two cities exert a significant influence on the Belgrade graffiti scene. Fantastic Boys, also known as RCC (Rap City Crew), where the first Belgrade-based crew that begun graffiting. These works inspired Miša, later known as Jens, who created his first work in 1988 and became the graffiti artist with the longest experience in Belgrade. During this period many humorous graffiti concerning local culture were created. Clumsily written names of bands, football clubs and their supporters groups were the most pervasive. In the early eighties an initiative for refurbishing Belgrade’s facades with murals was created. In this project, many recognized artists were engaged and a significant number of murals was painted. Some of them are visible to this day. Despite the fact that these works are not illegal or anonymous, they significantly contributed to the popularity of street art.
1990 Death and subsequent rebirth
Everything stops at the beginning of the nineties. The disintegration of Yugoslavia, bloody civil wars, unprecedented migration and general hysteria led to the retreat of artists retreat – in every sense.
Miša (aka Jens), previously mentioned, moved to Paris and was introduced to the local scene there. He returned to Belgrade in 1994 and created his first graffiti “STUFF”. This graffiti became very popular (it appears in several music videos) and is in some sense the first graffiti in this region to receive media attention. It inspired other artists to recreate the Belgrade graffiti scene. The year 1995 is generally considered to be the year when the serious graffiti scene in Belgrade was reborn: its epicenter being in the part of Belgrade known as Blok 45. Jens and Cobes, living in this New Belgrade block, formed a crew called AGC (Anonymous Graffiti Crew) in 1996 and began creating graffiti under the influence of Parisian graffiti artists from the early nineties. This is mostly lettering with simple forms, generally silver with a black frame. One of the reasons for the popularity of this type of graffiti is that they are cheap since very few colors or sprays are needed.
As the interest for graffiti grew, so did the thirst for information about new trends. Primarily it arrived in written form, i.e., magazines focused on these themes. Most of the magazines were from Germany and in this way the “German school” had a big influence on artists in Belgrade. A documentary called “Style Wars” filmed in 1983 also became influential in Belgrade in this period. The film deals with the history of the graffiti in New York, until the year 1983, and it played a large role in the formation of not only the local but also global graffiti scene.
The wall is the perfect place for communication. Today we leave our marks on Twitter, Facebook and other digital walls. However, these digital walls lack one dimension, and that dimension of space imbues the marks with a certain kind of magic.
We continue the story about the development of the Belgrade graffiti scene, taking a look at the 21st century.
2000 | Style and influences
Magazines and movies, which became increasingly available, gradually clarified the difference between “legal” and “illegal” graffiti. Legal graffiti were often considered of higher artistic value and attracted more attention. HALLEY ZONE, a Belgrade crew that reached a high quality of legal graffiti works with a few distinguished artists, formed the BGILLEGAL crew in 2000 – one of the most serious crews present on the Belgrade graffiti scene. They broke up in 2002, and a part of this crew formed the crew AFO (Anti-fascist youth), also one of the more significant crews that characteristically used socialist and antifascist symbolism in their works. Thanks to the rising popularity of legal graffiti, “legal” walls appeared – the most recognized is the Jugopetrol wall close to Ada (Bulevar vojvode Mišića). This wall became Belgrade’s “Hall of Fame”, used by excellent artists and only works of the highest quality survived there. At the same time the illegal graffiti scene was also expanding. Trolley busses were considered by some as a substitute for the subway that was never built in Belgrade – while painting on trams was very difficult. They were much better protected than other public transport vehicles. In 2003, Belgrade’s summer festival (BELEF) began supporting Graffiti Jams. This is a form of tradition continued from the 1980s when, during the festival “Belgrade Summer” (BELEF’s predecessor), many murals were created in Belgrade. Among the most successful festivals were the ones in 2008 and 2009 when artists such as REMED, Mark Jenkins, Black Le Rat, BLU and M City left their marks in Belgrade.
Today, thanks to the internet, culture can be considered as (almost) global. New art, products and technology are accessible in (almost) all places and available to (almost) all people – reactions are practically instant and the language is universally understandable. One graffiti in Belgrade, the portrait of the actor Robin Williams painted in Karađorđeva Street only a few hours after his suicide travelled around the world with incredible speed, mostly through social media but also through reputable news agencies.
Another new trend is the commercialization of graffiti. This, on the one hand, threatens the idea of subversive provocation – but on the other hand, it allows the artists to earn from their work. This trend appeared already in the 1980s but has today, due to globalization, become much more prominent. Some artists create to order, while others sell their works to galleries and usually use the payments to support their future work, lifestyle and non-commercial projects. The end justifies the means. However the dominant trend is global connectivity – this is supported by increasingly numerous festivals and exhibitions dedicated to street art.
The graffiti and street art scene in Belgrade is becoming more and more vibrant. Last year a new book came out, “Street Art Belgrade” which is the most comprehensive overview of street art in Belgrade, both stylistically and historically. From aphorisms and stencil art to complex graphics solutions, letters and murals. The book also contains quotes by some of the most active street artists. The book provides a comprehensive insight into the unique world of street art in Belgrade and we wish to inspire you to experience the art on the streets of this city.
Writen by Jelena Popović Djordjevic
Excerpts from the book “Street Art Belgrade”
Book “Street Art Belgrade” available now – www.beogradskigrafiti.com
Street Art and Graffiti in Belgrade Photo Gallery :
All Pictures © AleksandarDjordjevic