Participate Translate Blank profile picture
Image for Nocturnal street art world behind Barcelona's shutters (10 images)

Nocturnal street art world behind Barcelona's shutters (10 images)

Published on

Story by

nina behek

Translation by:

Cafebabel ENG (NS)


Like New York, the Catalan capital boasts some of the most vibrant pieces of street art in the world. Unlike in Berlin though, local authorities have never really taken to the culture of graffiti. In early 2011 a new wave of painting metallic shop shutters, called 'persianas' in Spanish, defined a new trend in the city's urban art scene. Hidden by day and presented in all their glory by night, Slovenian photographer Nina Behek took to the lively night for the cafebabel Barcelona blog


The word 'graffiti' comes from the Greek word graphein, meaning 'to write', aka to scribble or draw on a flat surface (Image: © Nina Behek)

Black subculture

Walls have been decorated since the prehistoric murals, when surfaces were painted with different natural pigments, or the ancient eras of chalk in Pompeii or Athens, not forgetting the perverted nazi propaganda scrawls against the jewish race. Graffiti as we know it today developed as a recognisable art form when it conformed to the black subculture of seventies New York (Image: © Nina Behek)

Franco free

Since the dictator Francisco Franco's death in the seventies, Barcelona has become a bohemian capital of culture, all the while restoring its cultural Catalan roots which were supressed under Franco. For decades the city has flourished from the heat of liberty, graffiti, music and a tourist boom which has helped its economy. There is a real dialogue between the artists who live here and the everyday Jose on the street (Image: © Nina Behek)

Artists corner

Street art in Barcelona features local and international work as well from artists such as Pez Pescao (featured), BToy, Kram, Ogoch, Kenor, Tom14, SM172 and Gola amongst others (Image: © Nina Behek)


In 2012 Barcelona saw its second annual meet for female graffiti lovers and rising artists, Fem Graff (Image: © Nina Behek)


El Xupet Negre ('the black pacifier) is an artist who draws babies' dummies all over the city. In one interview he mentioned that he prefers to graffiti the walls of little towns around Barcelona, to avoid bothering people (Image: © Nina Behek)


Initially local shop-owners wised up to the reality, preferring to hire and recognise street artists instead of treating them like vandals. However since 2010 the Barcelona authorities are fining these businessmen for allowing such 'anti-social behaviour', as they call it, to take place. Society seems to be increasingly repressive for street artists today (Image: © Nina Behek)


There is a huge contradiction of not allowing your city's graffiti artists to work in the public space - even when the owners of the property don't mind it - and then erecting huge exhibitions of graffiti which are promoted across different art galleries. The city is more attractive - and earns more money - as a result of its street art, and the routes created for tourists (Image: © Nina Behek)


In 2012, the mapping Barcelona public art (MBPA) project was created via crowdfunding to promote public awareness about art and to protect the freedom of expression in the streets of the capital. In October 2012 their first exhibition, 'The Streets Talk' (Las calles hablan) coincided with the release of a documentary about street art in the city (Image: © Nina Behek)


It's sad to think that the graffiti artists who have been restricted to working on metallic shop shutters to conceal their work when the sun is out have been lighting our way through the dark streets of the city, but that this activity too will probably cease one day soon (Image: © Nina Behek)

Read the original post in Spanish from the cafebabel Barcelona blog here

Translated from Las persianas de Barcelona cobran vida por la noche