Stroll around Antwerp’s international street art scene
Antwerp breathes street art: from small tags to extraordinary masterpieces on buildings. Last Saturday, Street Art Antwerp took-off with a two-hour walking tour along the greatest artworks of our city. Local guide Tim Marschang, known as Streetartwerpenaar, was on the scene to tell the story of urban artists like no one else. We were ready to discover what our creative streets had to offer.
Music for Life, also known as de Warmste Week, is back and the Street Art for Life tour is here to help for a good cause. Street Art Antwerp puts Te Gek!? in the spotlight, an initiative that wants to bring mental health up for discussion in Flanders. Find out more about this project here.
Bright rays of sunlight set the mood for the day as we gathered at the Rubenshuis at 12 o’clock. Together with fifteen attendants of all ages, we began our walk as we follow our local guide for the day, Tim Marschang. It is already unquestionable that street art is for everyone willing to look outside of the box. “The streets of Antwerp are a 24-hour open-air museum to the public’s eye”, says Tim. “Based in Antwerp, I’m proud to show my city in all its glory. I’m also very fond of our local artists, who I want to give an international platform to make them more known abroad.”
With Antwerp-based artists such as Larsen Bervoets and Artoon, viewers learn the creative history of our graffiti scene. Tim lingers our attention by mentioning the vision behind the artist’s work. “It is important to know that there are different types of street art; stencil art, sticker art, template art, and paste-ups. All creatives start with a neat sketch and end up developing patterns and styles as the process continues.”
What many may not know, is that the main difference between graffiti and street art is that graffiti focusses on the quantity, often illegally made pieces sprayed on in a short amount of time. While street art is known for its quality statement pieces that embellish street corners. While strolling around alleys, we often bump into abandoned parking areas. “This is the ideal territory for a street artist”, explains Tim, as he points out an illegally daubed brick wall.
“Graffiti artists are often badly portrayed. My ultimate goal is to show that street art is more than just vandalism”, explains Tim. “It is currently on its way to becoming one of the most influential art forms ever created. Back in the days, it were mostly men who filled the streets with art at night. It’s great to see more women in the scene today. For example, Jules from Wetteren and Kitsune Jolene from Ghent.”
Off the beaten path, in a social residential area, we stop to admire a three-dimensional piece by Parisian artist Astro’s. The viewer is misled by the distorting straight lines of facades and walls which creates an optical illusion. A unique piece to demonstrate how our surroundings can impact the way we view things. A few other personal favorites are the ‘Baroque Mural’, created by Rise One, and ‘Mural For my Father’, an enormous black and white pointillism inspired portrait by El Mac from Los Angeles. Both of the artworks were dedicated to Antwerp’s baroque year in 2018. We later discover that even Hollywood star Matthias Schoenaerts likes to spray on a wall from time to time under the stage name Zenith.
“Antwerp keeps investing in artists’ work as an embellishment for our streets which is managed by the youth policy”, says Tim. Street art is being taken seriously. In January 2020, Antwerp’s district Berchem will appoint their first alderman of street art. He will be the first in Belgium, and perhaps even the world.
From the Rubenshuis to the Zomerfabriek and from the alleys of the Meir to the Muntplein, the epicenter of street art in the 90s, our city sure has it all. Tim is proud to call it his home. “My favorite artwork is by the female street artist Jules located at ‘t Eilandje. A colorful three-dimensional portrait of a woman”, says Tim proudly.
Street Art for Life offers four different tours this month, with Merksem and Berchem still possible to attend. In 2020, there will be two more tours organized in Borgerhout and Luchtbal. In case you’re interested in the full experience, try a three-hour bicycle tour through all districts of Antwerp. All events will be announced on the Facebook page.
Street Art Antwerp is also part of Street Art Cities, the first international street art project that tries to document all urban art in the world by building a community and thus promoting their city and local artists on a platform. So far more than 250 cities have joined in over 60 countries. Interested in exploring a city in an atypical way? Take a look at the website (www.streetartcities.com) or download the free Street Art Cities app.
Text and pics by Anne-Sophie Verkoyen