Showcasing some of the world’s biggest names in street art, the annual MURAL Festival just ended in Montreal, a city quickly becoming a hot spot for creatives worldwide. The festival embodies what this city is all about: vibrant, electric and driven by a strong artistic crowd.
Montreal’s biggest block party, MURAL takes place around the Main, the city’s famous boulevard. The vibe is as strong as it is diversified: food trucks and grill-outs mingle and mix to the sounds of reggae and 70’s disco-rock, and on this hot pre-summer day, the streets are buzzing with urban art talents from all around the globe. 20 street artists, for 11 days, create gorgeous murals on the city’s walls and interact with the public in an attempt to democratize urban art. Last year’s murals are still as popping as ever; CYRCLE, Roa and Alexis Diaz are now getting some rad neighbors such as Curiot, Jarus and C215, turning Montreal into a real public art Mecca.
As I walked the alleys surrounding the Main, I stumbled upon Canadian artist Éric Clément getting tons of kudos from onlookers as he was adding the finishing touches to the outlines of his mural, a 20-meter long stretch of comic book-esque WWII dreamscape that’s super colorful and punchy. Just a block away, Faith47 from Cape Town was finishing up on her sublime piece, set in a tranquil park, a setting which sets her style perfectly. Further ahead, Argentinean Elian was busy putting the final touches to his wild and colorful oh-so-60s abstract piece. On their lifts and scaffoldings, the muralists looked tiny compared to the sheer size of their works. “Sometimes I start thinking it’s going to look bad, but then I step back and I see how impressive it looks” says Douglas, one of the two artists forming Bicicleta Sem Freio, the Brazilian star collective of this year edition. Their creations dot the world’s biggest cities, and now Montreal got its own: a magnificent 6-storey affair of colors and brightness so impressive people can’t help but stop in awe.
MURAL will unavoidably do just that: bring people together in art, and unite them. A bit like a good ol’ Montreal winter does.