Ten years ago Łódź was one of the most sad places in Poland. A postindustrial city located in the middle of the country, full of abandoned factories, grey and forgotten. Now, 10 years on, it’s impossible to take your eyes off the impressive walls of the city of art.
When the first murals appeared in the city centre, people didn’t realize that it signaled the beginning of a revolution in the urban art scene. Among the different commercial, municipal and private projects, the main initiative that helped shape the image of Łódź as a city of art was the Urban Forms Foundation. The original idea was to create an outdoor gallery in the city centre, to cover blank walls left after the clearance of old buildings. However, due to the intense interest people showed the project has spread throughout the city. Thanks to the foundation’s initiative, world renowned artists have now created more than 100 murals and installations.
Enough about history – you are probably desperate to see what this impossibly difficult to pronounce, weirdly named city has to offer.
First steps of ETAM CRU
Sainer and Bezt – the famous duo, aka Etam Cru, took their first steps in monumental painting in Łódź! Both artists studied at the Łódź University of Art and decided to complete their portfolios on the city walls rather than regular canvas. The oldest pieces are from 2011, but are always mentioned as the city residents’ favorites.
Young artists wanted to illustrate the distinguished cultural heritage of the city in their work. Madame Chicken from 2012 was based on the poem ‘In an airplane’ by Julian Tuwim, a Polish poet from Łódź.
In the last ten years, the walls of Łódź have been painted by over 40 renowned street artists. During a short walk through the centre of the city, you can pass murals by Os Gemeos, Aryz, Eduardo Kobra, Nunca, Morik, Kenor, Bordalo and Roa as well as a few local artists.
The Os Gemeos and Aryz Collaboration shows a chaotic lovers’ dance, although it’s already ‘wrinkled’ and a bit faded, it continues to draw a lot of attention as it is placed only a few meters from the main street.
Most of the pieces are perfectly incorporated into the local environment and interact seamlessly. Kobra’s mural from 2014 depicting the pianist Arthur Rubinstein is a fantastic example, as it is placed in front of the concert hall that carries this name.
No street art addict will hesitate to check what Łódź has to offer outside the city centre… More fantastic pieces for those who are willing to explore!
‘Mokosh’, by British duo Nomad Clan, was created on the wall of an old, abandoned factory during The Łódź of Four Cultures festival in 2017. By depicting the Slavic goddess Mokosh, Nomad Clan wanted to exalt the former female workers of the textile works, who made Łódź the power house it was.
Okuda came to Łódź in 2018 to paint this huge piece on the students’ residency. ‘The magic beings from the oil sea’ was created to celebrate diversity. It was commissioned by the Erasmus Student Network to celebrate 20 years of the Erasmus exchange in Poland. This characteristically colorful wall shows the equality between humans and animals and highlights the diversity of the world as well as the need for tolerance.
Housing developments in Łódź are largely tower blocks, which gives a great opportunity for artists to create incredible, monumental pieces. “Bomber” by Greek artist INO, which is around 30 metres high, received fantastic feedback from inhabitants, locals and tourists alike. The artist decided to use one of his characteristic motives, based on his cultural heritage. He changed the Greek titan Atlas by replacing the Earth, with a bomb. INO’s piece can be considered as the symbol of today’s conflicts held around the world, but also treated as a symbol of human power as a weapon about to explode.
Not wanting to spoil you, let’s keep the rest of Łódź as an open book to explore with your own eyes 😉
Street art tram
Street art in Łódź is literally on the go. In the summer of 2018, three local artists: Martyn Gill, Adam Szczęsny and Gu-Tang Clan painted one of the city trams to reflect the introduction of art into the urban space. Collaboration between the rising stars of Łódź’ street art scene unleashed the esthetic motion. As the line of the tram changes daily, you never know where you will meet the art vehicle.
So would you like to take a ride?
Łódź is not only full of impressive, huge murals, it’s also has plenty of smaller street art interventions, including NeSpoon’s lace stencils, Mark Jenkins’ temporary installations, and Mentalgassi’s paste-ups. Among the famous artists, local freaks do not sleep.
Gu-Tang Clan is an anonymous paste-up artist, who creates the dog all over the city. There are as many dog embodiments as you can imagine. Napoleon? Woof! Done! Girl with the pearl earring? Woof! Dog it is! Good dog, bad dog, funny dog and angry dog. All of them on the streets of Łódź, literally everywhere!
Over ten years of implementing changes, step by step in the urban environment of the postindustrial, Łódź has successfully gained it’s new identity as one of the best European street art cities. There is no need to convince anyone who loves street art to visit the city where the urban art gallery is around every corner. The city IS the gallery. Ready to go to Łódź? I am!
The above article was written by
Urban Forms Team