Over 90 artists from 18 different countries in one city for one weekend, this was Difusor stencil art festival’s colossal achievement.
Thanks to the people behind Coolture, Borbo and Schhh, from Friday 29th June to Sunday 1st July, Barcelona was proudly hosting the international meeting of stencil art with artists such as Pure Evil (England), m-city (Poland), Vhils (Portugal), Orticanoodles (Italy)...
For 3 days, 6 spots around the city saw amazingly talented artists cover their walls in a jubilant and welcoming atmosphere.
However, the aim of the event wasn’t only to gather a bunch of artists for a happy few days of painting in the streets of Barcelona; its purpose was also to raise issues regarding street art in general as well as showcasing the diversity of the stencil art scene: diversity of styles and techniques, from Artiste Ouvrier’s intricate and colourful pieces to Xpome’s effective geometrical graphics; diversity of philosophy, from those like Spliff Gachette who have a strong political agenda to others like Is Bach who illuminate walls with stunning detailed stencils; and diversity of background: graffiti, illustrations, architecture, old school, new school and “hole school”: it all came together… beautifully.
After Difusor, m-city went to Sao Paulo for the street art festival A conquista de Espaço to work alongside artists like Blu, Sam3, Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada, Mark Jenkins... Pictures of rather impressive work have already started to appear on Blu's blog.
Royal fish club (website?) and Target
Collaborations were really the theme of the festival as Difusor offered a unique opportunity for artists all around the world to paint together. I had feared that the finished walls would lack coherence as the stencil medium doesn’t allow much spontaneity, but artists often managed to take into account the surrounding work of other artists to create beautiful pieces.
Throughout the festival, I asked many artists if they there was anyone they particularly wanted to meet and work with at Difusor, the answer was unanimous: EVERYONE!
Royal Fish Club spots eight bit’s bats
photo credit: Pure Evil
Pure Evil did his own version of
When Einsamkeit sent me a picture of this little girl a couple of weeks ago, I thought it was a wheat paste rather than a stencil… then I got to see it for real, I had to touch it to believe it…
There was one artist in particular I was keen to meet at difusor: Fragil from
Tristan Manco opened the debate by questioning “the place of street art in the perfect city scenario” that most councils around the world are trying to impose. This is a particularly hot topic in
This is an issue that was also very important for the artists involved in the festival. I asked many of them why they felt the need to hit the streets as opposed to just paint in private locations and the most common answer was that they were trying to get art out of galleries. Their aim was to expose art to an audience that would not normally go to art galleries, to get art out of the obvious context of the gallery and place it in unexpected places to provoke thoughts. The Belgian artist Bandit, who is very active in the small town of Altea (Spain) with large and quirky black and white stencils, once received an email from a 13 year old girl: “my mum and I love your paintings” she said “every time I see one, it makes me think”. This perfectly summarizes the kind of response public art is aiming for.
Israel Rodríguez and Gemma Galdón, the people behind malababa, discussed the importance of public art in cities that are increasingly becoming impersonal and profit-driven. Gemma Galdón highlighted the disappearance of the public space in urban environment. She used the example of the shopping mall, a fake public place owned by private companies where people’s behaviour is controlled and geared towards profit making. These types of places are quickly taking over the cities and this shift from public to private, from open to closed is spreading to the streets too. In this context, public art provides bubbles of fresh air, “blinks from the routine”, as Gemma put it. These blinks are vital for any city to retain its identity, before it becomes just another grey and beige pile of concrete.
I therefore think that I am not the only one who would like to say “thank you” to the artists and Difusor’s organisers for bringing hundreds of wonderful “blinks” to the streets of
Discussions are already taking place about where to hold the next stencil festival:
I live and work in Milan, which is the place of my street-art propaganda.
The first stencils with some attitude hit the streets in 2005; they were quite
different from the ones I make now and not only from a technical standpoint…
subjects were koy carps which, being so coloured, are suitable for a pictorial
treatment, colourful backgrounds and interactions between spray and brush.
I have never made writing, I don’t know why I started pasting carps in the
street but it was fun and I’m still learning a lot: it suddenly became
something I have devoted myself to.
Now I spend a lot of time on it, my stencils are getting cleaner and bigger. I
mainly paint legally in jams or authorized events, I want to do things
properly, I don’t care about vandalism, I don’t like tags all over the places,
the only illegal thing I do is poster affiche.
Shepard Fairey is my favourite street artist, his style surprises me all the
time. I also like very much Logan Hicks’ stencils.
I have spent a lot of time preparing new stencils for difusor and after long
solitude and silence now I’m looking forward to having fun with my x-acto,
working with and meeting as many people as possible: this will be a dream come
In the future I’ll participate in all possible events as I always find the right
attitude for working and sharing experiences with no police problems. I have got
stopped by the police several times while pasting up, it’s not a big deal in
Milan, the city is pretty well covered with posters and the police knows street
art: once they ascertain posters do not convey political messages, they let you
Recently in Milan there have been two illegal events in abandoned industrial
sites, Whereis101 and Whereis107, where everybody was invited to participate:
they have been wonderful days, something like a street art fairground (the
police too let us work!). I wish other events like these will come soon.
I must say that in Milan things are not so bad, media and town authorities too
are trying to promote this kind of artistic expression: it’s a good moment for
Now I have to get back to my stencil...
Ciao. See you soon,