The best street art around the world
It has been around for many years, the beautiful, illicit art form which could be considered as a free, open air gallery. But what are the best cities to visit for street art?
The street art in Thailand is known for being attractive and it’s easy to find in cities such as Bangkok, Pataya and Chaing Mai. You will have to search harder for it in the latter however.
Bangkok’s street art is everywhere, especially around the docks where tourists can board boats for canals tours.
Chaing Mai’s is largely based around the old city walls. A walk around the city walls will show you a variety of styles, from the basic tag to realism to cartoon-like figures to cubism.
The Pataya Arts Festival brought street art to Thailand’s beaches in 2017, when artists from all over the world were invited to work on some of the biggest walls of the beach resort.
If you’re looking for a specific artist, you may like Mue Bon. Bon is a native, known for collaborating with Dutch artists OxAlien and Eelco Rath on a wall in Bangkok, near the famous backpackers street Khao San Road. Outside Thailand he is mostly known for his “cute” characters, yet his almost industrial-looking mouse logo can be found all over the big Thai cities. There’s recently been a boom in political street art across the country, designed to act as a form of commentary or protest, due to the ongoing change in the country’s political situation.
Cambodia has a love-hate relationship with street art. While the art is permitted under some circumstances and on private property, it can otherwise be quickly removed. During the 2015 Cambodia Urban Art Festival in Phnom Penh; the art that was left behind was painted over within months.
In order to see the best pieces, you’ll need to keep your eyes open and have “Lady Luck” on your side. This hands photograph is one such example, spotted from a rooftop terrace of a nearby hotel.
Most of the illegal street art shows that the scene is still small and developing. If you prefer less of a challenge, try Siem Reap, near Angkor Wat where street art is easier to find. You’ll see “throw ups” around construction sites, as well as pieces on the walls of smaller alleys. Taking a tuk-tuk to Angkor Wat will give you the opportunity to spot the best art on the go. Phnom Penh also has a lot to offer in the Boeung Kak district, especially around Street 93.
In Slovenia’s capital, Ljubljana, there is a mix of commissioned and guerrilla street art pieces, which can be largely found by walking around.
If you need more direction, Alternative Ljubljana organises tours, just in case. It should also be noted that there has been an explosion of street art in the last thirty years, due to the dissolution of Yugoslavia.
Some of the streets are filled with tags from top to bottom. Metelkova is also a street art hotspot in the capital; originally the military headquarters of the Austro-Hungarian Army, it’s now the headquarters for the Yugoslavian Army. It became a squatters community in the 1990s. They were mostly students, activists and artists who still occupy the site today and fill Metelkova with as much art as possible. Besides the traditional pieces, tags and throw-ups, you will also spot sculptures and mosaics here.
If you’re around in Amman, you will mostly likely be struck by the realisation that huge murals are considered to be a big thing. However, the majority of the street art is not political, in direct contrast to neighbouring Palestinian locations. There is guerrilla street art, but it will catch you by surprise so keep your eyes peeled at all times. A ‘lot’ of land-where buildings are usually offer colourful surprises on walls next to the land. Great pieces can also be spotted from the citadel of Amman.
Banksy is known for putting the West Bank Barrier on the map internationally as a street art hot spot. One local, known as Cake$, has also adopted his stencil technique. Although not as detailed, his works make an incredibly strong impact—the pieces mostly depict small children playing with toys made of barbed wire or weaponry.
Ninety-nine per cent of the art here is political for obvious reasons; it’s also a very active scene, enough so that the wall can be read like a newspaper. If something happens, a piece will be painted in response. The best place to start “reading” the Barrier is near Checkpoint 300, where you’ll also find Bansky’s Walled Off Hotel. In recent years, tourists have started to paint the wall too, just to leave their mark. This has led to the odd combination of political pieces right next to superhero logos and album covers of some of the world’s biggest pop stars.
Rotterdam is gradually becoming more of a tourist hotspot due to the city’s relatively new Eurostar, as well as a crackdown on tourist behavior in Amsterdam. However, it’s also known for its street art scene, beginning around the entrance to club Annabel and the Biergarten. It is more abstract than you would expect; “It was all a dream” looms out of a wall for instance. The street art is occasionally political, such as with the topic of Brexit.
Rewriters Rotterdam run regular tours, and have a map you can follow via an app on your smartphone. Most of the art included in these tours was commissioned by the city council. There are also more colourful pieces the more you walk into the old neighbourhood, which are often made illegally. The waterfront opposite the Laurenskerk is also a great place to spot art.
Known for its liberal outlook, the artwork in Brighton is innately political. Topics the city takes on have previously included the policy of Austerity, homelessness, the various issues surrounding President Trump, refugees, as well as Women’s Rights. The farther away from the city centre you are, the more artwork there will be; a prime location is the underpass by the station, were you can see a host of pieces grouped together. Artists generally rely on bright, striking colours, or create a dramatic, two-tone contrast. Highlights include David Bowie being found behind a shop door, and there is a large (commissioned) Project Hummingbird mural near the end of Middle Street. There is more towards the Lanes and the beach, too.
Due to its enormity, London has a plethora of street art. Some of it may be what is akin to a scribble, and it can be unsightly with expletives, but there are pockets of eye-pleasing art. A highlight is a tunnel underpass nearby Waterloo Station. Part of Leake Street Arches, a quick Google suggests that it is London’s biggest legal street art area. The entirety of its walls and ceilings have been taken over; you could spend hours examining this tunnel. The themes vary, often slanted towards the political; Banksy lookalikes crop up now and again, given his previous involvement in hosting Cans Festival (2008) which involved the tunnel.