Between the beginning of August and the end of September, ten building walls around central Pest were enhanced with amazing oversized paintings by diverse street artists as part of Budapest's Színes Város Festival, an arts and music celebration featuring more than 100 programs. The party may be over, but these vibrant artworks will continually brighten spirits for years to come.
During the Színes Város Festival, 13 accomplished street artists – mostly from Hungary, but also including visiting Romanian and Polish painters – used up more than 2,000 liters of paint to decorate downtown walls, while nine film specialists assisted them and recorded the their work in separate groups. The artists also competed with each other; the grand jury prize was awarded to Richárd Orosz for his work on Kertész Street, "Vidék, vagy nagyváros" ("Countryside, or city”), while the audience award was given to Károly Mesterházy, alias BreakOne, for his work on Akácfa Street, "Nyugalom, vagy tombolás" ("Calmness, or rampage”). In addition to the sponsorship gifts, the winners also received cash prizes of 250,000 forints apiece.
For this project, renovation works ameliorated a total of 2,100 square meters of wall, from which 886 square meters were not only painted or plastered, but also installed with complete thermal insulation using a recently developed method. As a result, many crumbling wall surfaces were renewed to last for the next 20-30 years.
Nearly 100,000 people participated in all of the Színes Város Festival events, and in the broader sense of providing widespread visual enhancement for everyone passing these new murals, the festival's accomplishments can reach the entire metropolitan population.
The theme and the given task of this 80-square-meter surface was the visual representation of the dichotomy “Nyugalom, vagy tombolás” ("Calmness, or rampage”). For artist Carlos BreakOne, calmness is best personified by a Hungarian nesting bird, the swallow. This work on Akácfa Street took 14 days to complete, since the constant rain made painting somewhat difficult. BreakOne believes that swallows are a symbol of peace, which is why he painted three of these birds on the wall.
Színes Város asked Romanian artist Obie Platon to paint the 100-square-meter sidewall of Kőleves Garden in the theme of “The city and nature”. The painter completed the task with 70 liters of paint in 4.5 days. The result is one of the five Platonic forms symbolizing Mother Earth. The artist’s main inspiration is the philosopher Plato, as well as Romanian culture, society, geometry, and philosophy. The wall was not only painted, but is also renewed with complete thermal insulation.
The artwork on the side of Rácskert ruin pub at Dob Street 40 is made entirely from mosaic tiles, which is not a very common style in contemporary Hungarian arts. The theme of the wall is “Utca vagy galéria” (“Street or gallery”), which is based on what we prefer: street art or galleries. The creator of the mosaic is Márton Hegedűs, the graphic designer from the Hungarian version of Playboy. His style is mainly based on comic-book art and graphic novels.
Three artists painted on the 156-square-meter wall of a parking lot on Kertész Street for five days, thus creating the artwork titled “Romlás virágai” (“Flowers of Decay”). All of the works made during the festival have a kind of dichotomy behind their theme, and this one interpreted the dilemma of “Nagyváros vagy természet” (“Metropolis or nature”). Fat Heat and Krisztián Viszokai – AKA Mr. Zero – are the most famous Hungarian street artists at the international level. They traveled half the world thanks to their art, as they are often invited to paint walls at different festivals.
Four artists – Void, Pletyka, Transone, Fork – completed the representation of their dichotomy in a rather abstract way. Their unique styles complement each other on the wall, but separately as well. The progressive graffiti line represents Pest, while the Buda side seems calmer in its colors and forms, with the Danube in the middle. All four artists live in different districts of Budapest, so this theme was naturally challenging for them. They worked with various techniques and used outdoor wall paint and spray paint, as well.
This wall’s theme was based on the dichotomy “Chill vagy tombolás” (“Chill or rampage”). The 80-square-meter wall was painted by Polish street artist Lukas Berger (AKA Cekas), for eight days, using 20 liters of paint. Lukas Berger originally studied and graduated at the University of Wrocław as a sculptor, and is a member of the Polish Fat Cap Crew. He claims to use the brush as a sculptor uses the chisel.
The work of Dávid Tripsánszki and Dorka Jakócs on Dob Street portrays a man and a woman, symbolizing Budapest itself. They created symbolic characters of the two sides of the city and its citizens, based on the open and artistic spirit of the population. The half of the mural painted by Dorka is more colorful, while the half painted by Tripó is based on black-and-white imagery.
The artwork of Péter Szabó-Lencz, based on the dichotomy of “Napfelkelte, vagy naplemente” ("Sunrise, or sunset”), is titled Kazinczy Street, and is – quite obviously – located at one of the entrances to Kazinczy Street. The winning entry was selected to be there months before by a tender. The promoters of the painting were the members of the Azért7 Association civil society. The cultural map is intended to offer guidance to visitors of Kazinczy Street, which became the center of the city's party district in the last few years. However, there are not only restaurants and bars in the area, but also the Dance Academy and an Orthodox synagogue.
Richárd Orosz painted the 240-square-meter wall at Kazinczy Street 45, on the side of Mika Tivadar Mulató. His work is titled “Budapest nem ekkora” (“Budapest isn’t so small”), and intends to encourage foreign visitors who only spend a few days in Budapest to stop for a moment and look at what the city has in store for them beyond the downtown party core.
The Színes Város Festival's prizewinning painting, made by Richárd Orosz, is located at Kertész Street 27. “The winning mural is important to me," said Tamás Dévényi, president of the Central Planning Council of Monuments and president of the jury, "because it is not trying too hard, it does not want to look like a billboard image, but expresses a compassionate love towards our crazy world. I would like to see works like this in the historic district of Budapest.”