Our Favorite Murals of 2014
When I heard I got the task to choose my top 10 favorite murals from the year behind us, the first thing that crossed my mind was that it’s impossible. Thinking about all the beautiful work I wrote about in 2014 and the effort that artists made, I found myself in an unenviable position. Then, I started revisiting our galleries to somehow make a list. Our favorite artists were very busy in the last twelve months, leaving their marks across the globe. They participated in numerous projects, exhibitions, made some highly successful collaborations and finished the year in big style, by participating in one of the world’s biggest art fair, Art Basel Miami. Going chronically, one of the artists that is not only talented, but also has a very creative approach to the process of painting is the Spanish artist Borondo. His upside down mural he did in London fascinated me in many ways. Although very simple and not of enormous dimensions, the idea of painting the portrait that would reflect in the river beneath is just superb. Other names on the list are German artist Hendrik Beikirch aka ECB famous for his beautiful and realistic portraits and one of my personal favorites, if not my all-time favorite artist, Nychos. Murals that proved that two artists can still keep their signature marks even in collaborations are also on the list, as well as the Chinese urban art superstar DALeast, the Belgian muralist ROA whose talent always leaves us breathless, hyper-realistic work by the Italian multitalented artist OZMO, one of the most exciting street artists in the world today Phlegm and last, but not least, an artist that shocked visitors of Art Basel Miami with his talent, a fantastic Puerto Rican muralist Bikismo.
I hope you will enjoy my selection as much as I enjoyed making it, as well as writing about it for the last twelve months. See you in 2015!
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We are going to start off with our recap with the freshest mural featured on Sanja’s recap list of favourite murals of 2014, painted by Purto Rican emerging street artist Bikisimo (also know as the Joy of Puerto Rico) on the wall surrounding the Jose De Diego Middle School. Chrome Dog mural was created during the artist’s participation in Art Basel Miami art fair and it is one of the greatest representation of hyper-realism in street art. It took him four days to superbly wrap up this captivating image of metallic pooch. Using nothing more than few cans of spraypaint, Bikisimo created a street art masterpiece that clearly shows his impeccable painting technique. Simply awesome!
Dunedin Urban Art Festival is one of the youngest urban and street art festivals in New Zealand, focused on inviting some of the most famous street artist to transform the walls of Dunedin with their groundbreaking art. One of the artists who participated in the 2014 edition of the festival was Phlegm, English street art superstar, whose mesmerizing murals of storybook-like imagery can be found in urban landscapes around the world, mostly in run-down and disused industrial buildings. Phlegm’s striking Dunedin masterpiece, titled The songbird pipe organ, is without a doubt one of the finest pieces painted in 2014, and most certainly one of the greatest murals Phlegm ever created. The piece was financed by the local business owner mural was painted on, and the works’ artistic merit was endorsed by the Dunedin City Council.
Lady Liberty and David from Michelangelo sharing the same pedestal is an impressive mural painted by Gionata Gesi, best known by his moniker Ozmo, multi-faceted Italian artist, one of the most famous and respected artists in the Italian street art scene. Ozmo is widely recognized for his cutting-edge murals and paintings inspired by religion and classic Italian renaissance art with a street twist. The hyper-detailed mural, measuring 30 meter in width and 6 meters in height, has been painted on walls between NE 29th Street and First Avenue in Wynwood, Miami. As Ozmo said, Lady Liberty and David from Michelangelo sharing the same pedestal was inspired by his research on symbols and images, asking and experimenting about their power within.
ROA is a globe-trotting painter and street artist from Ghent, Belgium, whose contextual large scale murals of exceptional beauty can be found on the streets of cities across Europe and United States. He is widely recognized for his depictions of wildlife and domesticated animals and birds native to the area he visits, usually created using a minimal color palette, very often only black and white. Last summer ROA visited Sweden, leaving several mesmerizing murals in cities of Bromölla and Nässjö. The piece that entered our recap list of best 2014 murals is a breathtaking ROA’s masterpiece, painted on one of Nässjö‘s forgotten walls, created as part of the city’s 100 year celebration.
Dormant Antennae is an extraordinary mural painted by DALeast for the Street Art Doping mural festival that was held last summer in Warsaw, Poland. DALeast is a Chinese-born, South Africa-based street artist extraordinaire, true superstar of the international street art movement, who is fast becoming one of its biggest contemporary names. Dormant Antennae is one of the few murals DALeast has painted as of late, as he has been increasingly focused on studio work in the recent years. The mural, painted on an old brick building, is showing an image of a falcon standing on a cobra. It has been executed in DALeast’s signature style, utilizing his own technique which allows him to paint large pieces without using much paint. It is an astonishing piece of street art which well deserved its place on Sanja’s yearly recap of Top 10 best mural painted in 2014.
Nychos is a renowned Austrian street artist, illustrator and founder of the trendsetting Rabbit Eye Movement from Vienna, whose true identity remains unknown to the general public. He is widely recognized for his huge, weird looking and technically outstanding murals featuring dissections and cross sections of human and animal bodies. Last summer Nychos traveled to Sao Paulo, Brazil. During his visit he painted this extraordinary mural titled Horsepower, located in the city’s Pinheiros neighborhood. Using Montana spraypaint supplied by manufacturer, Nychos skillfully painted this exceptional masterpiece showing the insides of a horse, created in his instantly recognizable style. Nychos’ Horsepower is a real eye-cacher, visually captivating piece that stands out, and it comes as no surprise that it entered Sanja’s list as one of the best murals created in 2014.
Seth Globepainter x Kislow
Julien Malland, better known as Seth Globepainter, French street artist who is known for globepainting the world and often collaborating with local artists to create his optimistic, dream-like murals which can be found all around the globe, in countries like India, China, Mexico, Brazil and South Africa. Last April Seth Globepainter teamed up with Aleksey Kislow, a rising street art star from Ukraine. This was not their first collaboration but it just might be their best so far. While the eyes of the world are firmly set on politically unstable Ukraine, Seth Globepainter and his Ukrainian friend decided to put some light and color into people’s lives by creating their radiant masterpiece titled Renaissance, located in the old Kiev district of Podil.
Curiot x Jason Botkin
Entry No. 8 on Sanja’s list of her favorite 2014 murals is a colorful street art collaboration by Curiot and Jason Botkin. Curiot, Mexican painter and street artist, widely recognized for his vibrant depictions of mythical beasts and creatures of blended human and animal forms, and Jason Botkin, co-founder and driving force behind En Masse, multi-artist collaborative drawing project from Montreal, were invited to visit the Mexican island of Holbox in February 2014. Their masterpiece, created for the first edition of IPAF (International Public Art Festival), covers a large dome shell at the Concha Acústica, Holbox central square. This epic mural is a wonderful piece of collaborative artistic work which combines different, but highly compatible signature styles of Curiot and Botkin. It features splashes of brilliant fuchsias, teals, corals, lime greens and beautiful visual references of several elements found in the cultural folklore of Caribbean island of Holbox.
ECB, also known as Hendrik Beikirch, is a renowned German painter and street artist, widely praised for his gigantic black and white murals featuring highly poetic and dreamy portraits of usually anonymous, everyday people. In February 2014 ECB was invited to India’s capitol New Delhi, to participate in the first ever street art festival in India, where graffiti is the new form of artistic expression gaining a lot of popularity. With the help of local graffiti artist Anpu, ECB created this captivating larger-than-life mural depicting India’s father of the nation Mahatma Ghandi. The mural was painted on the wall of the Delhi Police headquarters building and it was unveiled on Gandhi’s death anniversary.
Gonzalo Borondo is a young and extremely gifted Spanish street artist who keeps on proving he is one of the most exciting contemporary artists within the street art movement. During his prolonged stay in London in February 2014, Borondo created several exceptional street art pieces, including his collaboration with Jaz and the one that easily entered Sanja’s Top 10 list of 2014, breathtaking masterpiece titled Narcissus painted along the canal in Hackney Wick in East London. Painted upside-down, this impressive portrait is complete only when reflected right way up in the slow moving waters of the canal as the sun slowly sets. Magical effect of atmospheric light and shadows casted by the overhead motorway bridge, that cleverly frame the piece, give Narcissus a completely different feel when viewed during the day.