Colourful, politicised and powerful, street art in Budapest is a burgeoning art form. Here’s where to see it for yourself
Budapest’s thriving street art scene has given rise to a number of prominent artists putting their stamp on the capital. While the city frowns upon illegal graffiti, groups such as Neopaint Works and Színes Város work with local artists to create firewall murals to legally brighten up Budapest’s neighbourhoods. In addition, legal spaces, such as Filatorigát graffiti wall, are encouraging young artists to take their work to the streets, while ruin bars are breeding grounds for up-and-coming talents. Find out where to see it for yourself with this guide to street art in Budapest.
The city’s seventh district is one of the best places to see street art in Budapest. Throughout the former Jewish neighbourhood, bland building façades have been covered in colourful street art, many created by artists and graffiti masters from groups such as Neopaint Works. The result? Beautiful, thought-provoking and often politically charged murals that inspire conversation. Some of the most famous pieces include murals of a crystal tree at Klauzál street, a refugee girl on Gozsdu court and a meadow next to an otherwise sad-looking playground on Király street.
While these commissioned spaces are impressive, part of the appeal of street art is its ever-changing nature. That’s why Filatorigát, Budapest’s only legal graffiti wall, is significant. Stretching alongside a deserted factory next to Filatorigát HÉV station, the 400m wall invites anybody with a can of spray paint and an idea to decorate it. It’s covered in colourful etchings and signature stamps by a multitude of new and established street artists such as Taker, who has returned to the wall a number of times to create photorealistic impressions of people and animals
Budapest is famous for its ruin bars – trendy pubs in derelict industrial spaces and abandoned buildings. As it wouldn’t be ‘hip’ to plaster on wallpaper, the owners of such bars have come up with their own kind of wall covering – graffiti. The city’s best ruin pubs are great places to check out artworks by young artists over a pint of craft beer. Szimpla Kert in District 7 is the city’s premiere ruin pub. The pioneering venue is covered in graffiti and also hosts regular exhibitions and events showcasing the works of local artistic talent. Elsewhere, Puder has become an art hub its own right. As well as hosting literary and music events, the bar’s walls are a gallery and display temporary exhibitions of paintings on a rolling basis.
Another group of artists currently revolutionising street art in Budapest is Színes Város (Colourful City). Their philosophy is to take art out of galleries and make it accessible to everybody. They’re responsible for colourful projects all over the city that have taken grey, worn-out public spaces and transformed them into something worth looking at. As well as cheering up the cityscape, Színes Város aims to inspire change by highlighting social issues through art. Discover their works in and around the seventh district and downtown Budapest..
Wherever you are in the city, keep a beady eye out for the latest street art trend: stickers. From lampposts and traffic lights to bins and mailboxes, every surface is a potential canvas for sticker art. Even walking down Andrássy Avenue, Budapest’s most famous boulevard, you’ll find subtle yet expressive flashes of guerrilla street art on most corners. If you look closely, you may even find the remnants of Space Invaders stickers famously left by French graffiti artist, Invader.