Bratislava, Street Art City

BratiStreetArt06

Berlin. Melbourne. Caracas. These come to mind when one thinks of cities with fantastic street art. Bratislava hasn’t made an appearance on any lists or street art blogs that I’ve ever come across. And yet, even before I moved here, it was one of the first things that I noticed about this little city. Of course, there are unsightly tags everywhere. The artistic equivalent of a dog lifting its leg. But they stand no chance of being noticed next to the vibrant murals that light up the city.

One of the most iconic sites in Bratislava is the “Van Gogh House”, a derelict structure next to the cathedral. The vacant windows have been filled in with Van Gogh-ish works.

BratiStreetArt05

Just across from it, childlike drawings are scrawled on the wall next to the road. This was taken in 2011, and the wall has since chipped away considerably. But no one has yet painted over it.

BratiStreetArt07

Most SNP bus station, under the “UFO Bridge”, has the best collection of street art in the city center. New frescoes are always appearing to take the place of those that have faded away.

BratiStreetArt02

This clever guy is my favorite. Or was. The last time I was down there, he was barely discernible. I wonder how street artists feel about their works peeling, flaking, chipping away into oblivion. I imagine that they learn to be comfortable with impermanence.

BratiStreetArt03

There’s a humorous, whimsical feel to most of the street art in Bratislava. Even the most serious mural has an innocent softness about it.

BratiStreetArt01

I found this cutie past the underpass and up the staircase towards the castle.

When you get to the top, your gaze is drawn across the river, towards the block apartment district of Petrzalka. A labyrinth of grim uniformity that stretches as far as the eye can see.

And yet…

BratiStreetArt08

This photo was also taken in 2011. The sunflowers have since been painted over in favor of a diagonal stripe. I think. I was over there a few months ago, and I noticed that they were gone, but I can’t clearly remember what was there instead. Forgettable uniformity has won out yet again.

BratiStreetArt04

Over the past year, I’ve discovered more treasures. This one can be found far away from the city center, on a ruined building near the Danube. This beauty, and those that follow, are the result of the Bratislava Street Art Festival, which takes place every June.

BratiStreetArt11

I was unable to go this year, but I managed to locate the back street where the artists worked their magic.

BratiStreetArt10

BratiStreetArt09

Each year, the public transport company lets the artists paint a tram. They opted for an intricate black and white cityscape this year. It rattles past my place several times a day. I regret that I didn’t get a photo of last year’s prismatic masterpiece. I don’t see it around anymore. I fear that it’s been plastered over with the obnoxious ads that cover many of the trams. Yet another reminder that street art is, above all, transient.

BratiStreetArt12

59 thoughts on “Bratislava, Street Art City

  1. I was in Bratislava long time ago, it was clean, beautiful city. The image, I had, is quite different what you show now. Things change…

    • But Bratislava IS a clean, beautiful city. 🙂 All of these murals are on ugly old buildings or walls that have been there for ages. They don’t clash at all with the old city architecture.

  2. These are very good, some skilled artists over there. I have never been to Bratislava – but I’d like to. Your favourite is really skilled. Great idea with the tram every year –

  3. Love this post!
    this is so true “they learn to be comfortable with impermanence.”
    I love the fact that is vandalism, I always wanted to try it
    but I have never done it.

  4. I served a number of years in prison for a Marijuana charge (Class 1 Narcotics Violation in The U.S.). I noticed, while incarcerated, that men who keep their sense of humanity pursued Art & Poetry. These works remind me of this. Thank you

  5. Outstanding! I envy you seeing all this wonderful art and the pictures are wonderful Julie-I wish my city was more open-minded about exploring and supporting this kind of art-the creativity and vision is amazing. One of my favorite posts to date-

  6. Impermanence is part of the charm of street art isn’t it? I love how it adds colour to a city, then fades away to make space for something else… I don’t always like the something else but sometimes I’m positively surprised!

  7. Some really light up the grey, charcoal, and orange to a city, colours invading spaces, bursting to life, almost breathing to walk and dance into life, just add music…

  8. Hello, I fell in love with Bratislava at first sight, when I was there a year ago. I realize, however, that you experienced it from a complete different side. I thank you very much for having shown me that very creative part of the city. Because you said that you have never seen any posts on blogs about the city or maybe country, I permit myself to add the link to my post in English, German and Italian.http://rivella49.wordpress.com/2013/06/29/slovakeislovakiaslovacchia/

  9. Spectacular! I especially like the Van Gogh sunflower. To me, street art is bold, challenging our safety nets and demanding us to pay attention, to give thought to the world around us. It keeps us off balance so that we feel, REALLY feel, the pulse of the universe.

    I’ve been away from blogging for a few weeks (family and work projects). It is good to read your posts for the second time around.

    • I loved the sunflower, too. It was such a shock to see in that dreary neighborhood. I first saw it while passing by on a bus. The next time I was in that area, I brought my camera and got off at that stop just to take a photo. I’m really sad that it’s gone.

      It’s good to take a break from blogs every once in a while. Nice to see you back.

  10. The vibrancy lends so much more expression to what otherwise might be a very drab landscape. I often think of street art as the equivalent of changing the furniture around in a room. Great fun exploring this part of the world with you!

  11. One of my greatest regrets is that we didn’t meet in Budapest. I love the pictures of Bratislava. You bring Urban Renewal in your wake. You are the Breath of Life. The Street Art is like Shaolin Sand Mandalas and life.

  12. I too have a habit of photographing great street art whenever I run into it. These photos are great! Never been to Bratislava, but it sure looks like an interesting place to visit.

Comments are closed.