Trailing through the Airbnb website, I come across the experiences you can book for a day, I love this idea as the experience is more hands on than the traditional activities on offer for tourists. I had one day left in Barcelona and following all the artistic exposure I am attracted to a day painting Graffiti.
As the descendant of a real pavement artist who used his last two pence to buy some chalk, I used my last euros to do some street art plus standing in one place had an appeal to my weary over walked feet.
Graffiti has always fascinated me, and I was excited by the thought of spraying bright colours from tin cans on large blank walls, so donned in my old clothes I got up early and walked a mere 25 minutes along El Para-Lel towards the park of Tres Chimenis.
‘Is this a good idea?’ my friend had written to me, ‘isn’t graffiti for vandals?’ Half expecting to be greeted by a bunch of kids with spray cans and skateboards, I arrived at a large empty space. There was nobody waiting for me except a sleepy tramp on a bench clutching a beer can. As I looked on him merging into a painted picture, I wondered, was he real?
The park was an urban utopia where every covered surface of concrete and block was covered in colour and design. Five minutes later Chilean artist Yuri Pezkhamino apologised for being late and informed me I was his only student today. I laughed and apologised for forgetting my skateboard. He did not get my joke but I felt happy to have a personal tutor, the day can only get better. We sat like old friends on a wall and talked about street art, what it means and how it has been presented since man could learn how to make his mark. I think it was then I decided that the theme for my travels must have a discovery of art attached to it. After all, wherever you go in the world, cultures can be defined by their art, it existed well before the written word to show and tell stories. Yuri made it all very fascinating by pointing out the different types of grafiti, explaining that the marks randomly painted on walls (tagging) were removed by the councils but painting on a door was the responsibility of the owners to remove. A good graffiti or street artist could be employed to cover doors and shutters and they would be left intact and not vandalised. An artist could earn 300 euros upwards for his urban work. Sounds like a protection racket with the artist being the mobster I joked.
‘So let’s paint’, he said. He found a small panel on the end of the wall where he had me painting a blue background. I am already in my element and there are blobs of blue paint all over the ground. ‘Don’t worry about them’ he laughed as if it was all part of the effect. ‘I will show you how to make drips by throwing the paint at the wall, you have to think of something emotional’ he urged.
Thoughts of my X instantly came to the forefront of my mind, as I lobbed a darker midnight blue from a plastic cup directly at the wall. It was a good satisfying feeling. I have never used a spray can, to do anything artistic except for covering metal chairs so all of this is a new experience. Yuri who was much taller than me, so had an advantage as he stretched up to paint in his design and I watched him at ease, creating an outline of a stylised Panther.
As I merrily sprayed in-between his outlines I could see some other artists performing in the park. working their own designs. You could see they were captured in an artistic zone, aware of being watched as they became performers. An artist behind us, grinning from the top of his step ladder paints a skeletal fish. He throws the brush and splatters white paint like splinters of fish bone. He is in his element too. I want to do more but Yuri takes over, this becomes his show and I am now the assistant. We take pictures of our work, mostly Yuri’s but he lets me sign it. Now he jokes the police in Barcelona will be looking for me. I’m a child again, an urban artist. It is surreal. To complete the experience, I am invited back to his studio situated a few blocks away where he proudly shows me his work on canvas. His paintings are full of statements but you can see the urban artist in the man. Joined by his artist friend Errol from London who specialises in recycled art and has a studio next door, we eat a lunch of bread cheeses and olives and share stories, some without time or substance, some just about politics and life. I feel comfortable amongst creative people and It feels we have known each other for ages but art brings you close without barriers. doesn’t it? I look forward to this being the theme of my journey, I want to break down barriers I know that I have and to start seeing beauty in everything I face. As my trip to Barcelona the city comes to an end, it has been a great platform to open up some new creative ideas. I have widened sore eyes as well as sore feet. I know I shall be back for more.