Hungarian Conservative

Discovering the Colourful Walls of Budapest

Thanks to different art groups and individual artists, an ever-growing number of exciting mural artworks are popping up. Let’s look at some of them!

Strolling around Budapest’s historical districts, one can come across more and more murals that break the monotony of the mostly grey firewalls of old buildings. The murals are very diverse: some are colourful symbols of various kinds, others highlight historical or cultural values, and still others convey important messages. Thanks to different art groups and individual artists, an ever-growing number of exciting mural artworks are popping up. Let’s look at some of them!

Like a restless living creature, Budapest is constantly shifting, changing, evolving and developing, and meanwhile, it welcomes its guests and invigorates its residents as a living historical site. It is reflections of this vitality that can be discovered on the various colourfully painted walls, which sometimes appear to be abstract works of art, other times are still lives depicting a street view or morsels of memories recalling the past. The murals are very diverse in terms of their style, mood and messages.

Among others, a creative group called Neopaint has been decorating the walls of the city for more than a decade now. They have worked at cultural venues such as the A38 Ship and Budapest Park, but have also received commissions from companies such as Vodafone, Nissan and Cartoon Network. Walking around the city, we can see their artworks in many places, as they have collaborated with several districts, the Budapest Transport Company (BKK), the Lurdy House shopping mall and office building, and the National Theatre, too.

Realities Revived

To start with a personal experience, I would like to ask the reader to allow me to take them on a brief guided tour of Montpellier. Almost all the buildings in the southern French city are made of sandstone extracted from the nearby sea. As a result, almost all the houses there are clothed in beige and off-white garments. Just like in Budapest around the turn of the century, in Montpellier as well many apartment houses were built with large surfaces of unadorned walls.

It is also worth knowing that Montpellier is a city with a bustling art life, and street art in particular. Personally, that is where I first encountered a mural that as a so-called fake façade, brought an urban scene to life.

I remember the first time I saw that mural; I just stood in front of it for long, long seconds, waiting for old lady hanging out the washing leaning out of the window to move.

Of course, the penny finally dropped… I was amazed and could not wait for similar works of art to arrive in Budapest. Well, since then, not only have they arrived, but dozens of them are definitely shaping the atmosphere of our ever-changing capital. Let’s see!

There are now quite a few fake façades on the walls of Budapest. An example of this is the mural titled Greengrocer’s in Klauzál Square, which was realised within the framework of the programme Tűzfalrehab az Erzsébetvárosban (Rehab of Partition Walls in Elizabethtown). The artwork itself commemorates the almost legendary greengrocer’s store of Uncle Zoli and Aunt Magda that operated at 14 Klauzál Square for more than 40 years.

The fake façade of a residential building in Kertész Street is perhaps even more realistic. The graphic designs mimic the exterior of the building and are so successfully painted that the it is only in some lights that once realises the glass windows and the wrought iron are not real.

This is How You Should Live in the City  Walls That Carry Messages

Since the size of firewalls can be hundreds of square metres on average, they are perfect surfaces for sending messages to the residents of the city. For example, the mural in Akácfa Street, which is also a part of the Tűzfalrehab az Erzsébetvárosban project, uses the official colours of the UCI (Union Cycliste International) to recall a classic image of the mountain-top finish of one of the Tour de France bicycle races of the 1930s. The goal of the creators and the district government was to draw people’s attention to the joy of urban cycling. The title of the painting is Canga (an urban slang word for ‘bike’).

Another piece of art is an iconic mural of the A people said: enough is enough! series, which is a large painted portrait of Ilona Tóth, a young medical student, martyr of the 1956 revolution, who was executed in 1957. The mural’s message is about heroism and patriotism in Hungarian history.

The Realm of Fairy Tales and Parallel Realities

Blank walls, especially larger ones, give us the opportunity to make reality more colourful and guide us into the realm of fairy tales and other worlds. One of the murals that made the most of this opportunity is located on the firewall of the primary school in Dohány Street. It depicts a summer lakeside still life.

Hungarian Folk Tales

The Hungarian Folk Tales animation picture series was an important part of most Hungarians’ childhood, providing young and old with plenty of unforgettable visual experiences. A mural of nearly 500 square metres at the playground in Német Street in the 8TH district is an homage to the Hungarian Folk Tales illustrating a scene from the episode titled The Golden Calf.

Life Beyond the City…

Hungarian Folk Tales

Turning off Dob Street onto Kazinczy Street, at No. 45 there is a painted wall of 240 square metres just past the Mika Tivadar House. The mural is the work of Hungarian graphic artist Richárd Orosz, completed for the Colourful City Street Art Festival in 2014, sponsored by the Hungarian tourism agency, Magyar Turizmus Zrt. The purpose of the work titled Budapest is Not This Big is to draw attention to the fact that there is life beyond the capital as well…

Speaking of that, the mural movement has started in other cities as well—for instance, the Mondolo Association and SZETÁV Kft. in Szeged draw attention to rare and key species in need of protection as part of their project Városmetamorfózis, all through murals.

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Thanks to different art groups and individual artists, an ever-growing number of exciting mural artworks are popping up. Let’s look at some of them!