La Bañeza

An Open-Air Museum

08/27/2019 · By Iñigo Esteban
Artist Raquel Rodrigo, who is known as Arquicostura, is responsible for this cross-stitch portrait of a male, the largest mural in the history of the festival. © Art Aero Rap

The Leon town of La Bañeza is fighting the exodus to big cities with street art. Every August, the town’s facades serve as a canvas for artists from all over the world participating in the Art Aero Rap festival. Once again, concrete and bricks became the surface for a great explosion of talent and colour.

Mediterranean blue? Golden sunsets over the Atlantic? Green northern meadows? Spanish geography has colours for all holiday tastes, but visitors to La Bañeza, in León, can enjoy them all on a large scale, especially in August, coinciding with the town’s local celebrations.

This year, from 15-18 August, the 7th Edition of the International Urban Art Festival Art Aero Rap gathered thousands of visitors to see the work of some of the most prestigious international street artists. Specifically, over 50 works by 40 artists have joined the 200 existing murals decorating the town’s façades.

Completed with musical performances and other events, this year's edition featured artists from more than ten countries, including Uruguay, Holland, and Brazil, confirming the growing relevance of the festival. One of last year’s murals was chosen one of the world’s most impressive by the Street Art USA gallery. The authors were well-known Uruguayan duo Colectivo Licuado, who didn’t miss this year’s edition and, like other renowned artists such as Dinho Bento and Sabek, as well as Spaniards Chisme Criu and El Rojo, coloured the walls of La Bañeza one more year. A special mention goes to Raquel Rodrigo’s cross-stitch male portrait, the largest mural ever made at the festival and an example of street art’s ongoing evolution, covering more and more techniques to embellish walls and partitions.

50 works by 40 artists have joined the 200 existing murals decorating the town’s façades

There is a protest element in many of the works that extol urban art’s cultural side. Like the artists themselves, the town emphasizes the importance small towns in many population-losing rural areas may have in a globalized future. Moreover, Art Aero Rap also plays a “neighbouring" or administrative role, since every year murals are painted on facades and walls in need of restoration. Thanks to so many annual “reforms”, La Bañeza is now one of the towns with more murals per capita in Spain. It can’t be said it’s the one with most murals since what is known as rural art has begun to invade the walls of other smaller towns such as Romangordo, Castrogonzalo, and Fresnedillas.

However, there’s no denying La Bañeza became once again the capital of street art. What could be more irresistible for talented graffiti artists than a clean facade asking for some action?

An Art Form Open to Improvisation

The anecdote this year comes from Brazilian artists Toy and Omik, who took advantage of everything La Bañeza's had to offer, including an incident involving a car. During one of the artistic sessions, the car’s driver, ignoring the local government’s indications, parked underneath one of the huge cranes artists used to paint. The car was crushed by one of the cranes on its way down to the ground. The two graffiti artists didn’t hesitate to include this scene in their mural, leaving evidence of the event on one of the facades.