No matter what part of the world, every major city has its own form of street art. Once considered a form of vandalism, street art has grown into a respectable art form, with a growing cadre of internationally-recognized artists among its ranks. Street art received its start in New York City in the 1920’s and 1930’s, when gangs would write graffiti on the sides of train carts and walls. As the years progressed, street art began to take on a more political stance, as youth would use this art form as an anonymous way to express their social and political opinions. Street art gained popularity especially in the 1980’s, when graffiti art was experiencing a boom.
Since then, street art has spread all over the world, incorporating different mediums and methods. Street art can be seen in cities like Buenos Aires, Sao Paolo, London, Bristol, Amsterdam, Melbourne, and even Johannesburg. Several conferences exist to showcase the works of street artists, including one annual street conference called Living Walls. In addition to the traditional use of spray paint, street artists these days express their art through the use of stickers, stencils, art installations, and also video projections. Some of the more internationally known and influential street artists include Banksy, Basquiat, Os Gemeos, and Blek le Rat.
In the Serbian city of Belgrade, street art has become a socially accepted form of art. Though it hasn’t lost its socio-political messaging, the Belgrade street art scene has done much to bring color and culture to the city, turning once desolate neighborhoods into a vibrant place. Within the Savamala neighborhood, street art has decorated a large portion of the walls. Leafcanoer, grassrootsnomad, recently posted a leaf highlighting Belgrade street art called, “Savamala street art – Belgrade.” Street art in Belgrade has become so popular, visitors can even take a tour of the city’s street art.
Street art came to Belgrade in the early 2000’s. Initially consisting of graffiti and murals painted in various parts of the city, street art began to take off, as artists came to the city to showcase their sticker and stencil work. Over time, these pieces gained publicity and popularity, and were eventually included in the city’s arts festivals. This was a big step towards the social acceptance of street art as a legitimate form of art, especially in Serbia. Currently, street art fills the walls of almost every part of Belgrade, even in building hallways and school yards.
There are several well-known Belgrade street artists, including TKV, Lortek, AID, Street Dog, and Sila. Their works can be seen throughout various parts of Belgrade. One prominent piece of street art, which consists of a mural on the side of the building, is a piece entitled “Waiting for the Sun.” This piece was created by artist, Aleksandar Macasev, and supposedly was loosely based on a vintage Hungarian matchbox, originating from the post-war Socialist period. A well-known artist and designer, Macasev is best known for his mass-media work.
Once previously written off as simply vandalism, street art has grown to become an internationally recognized and respected form of art. With street artists living in all corners of the world, street art has absorbed the cultural, social, and political leanings of its locale. In the Serbian city of Belgrade, the street art has been credited with changing the city from an industrial relic of the Soviet era, to an up and coming urban cultural center.
Interested in exploring more Serbian street art? Check out more of grassrootsnomad’s leaf, “Savamala – street art of Belgrade.” For more ideas of where and what to explore in Serbia, as well as the rest of Europe, download the Leafcanoe app.