Have you recently visited any cities? If not, then let me tell you that Zagreb is one of the most vibrant and artistic cities in Europe. Over the last two decades, the Streetart scene in Zagreb has grown significantly. It is no surprise that some refer to the city as a giant museum. Artists are not only using the city’s walls to express their art; there is much more to discover.
The History of Streetart in Zagreb
The art scene in Zagreb has been alive and well for as long as I can remember. Most of the murals were related to the Dinamo Zagreb football club and their fanclub, the ‘Bad Blue Boys’. However, in the city centre, it was more difficult to find a beautiful mural (not including the ugly tags that were scattered everywhere). In 1992, two guys named Lunar and 2fast founded the first Croatian graffiti group, YCP. Shortly after, another popular group, GSK, entered the scene. In 1995, the first graffiti magazine in Zagreb, ‘ZGB Kaos’, was published, and the street art scene in Zagreb as we know it today was officially born.
It was then that this art form started to gain recognition amongst the more serious players of social life. Even companies began to commission graffiti artists to paint large murals for them. This marked the beginning of the commercialisation of street art in Zagreb. The Zagreb bank (Zagrebačka banka) and VIP net (telecommunication company) were among the first to pay artists for their work. Since then, the art has spread throughout the city, eventually reaching the city centre.
Today’s Murals and Streetart
Today’s murals in Zagreb are a testament to the immense talent of Croatia’s most renowned artists. From Lonac to Chez 186, Oko, Lunar, Bare, Modul, and Miron Milic, these street artists have created a stunning collection of works that can be seen throughout the city centre.
Not only have these Croatian artists made their mark, but international artists have also been drawn to Zagreb’s burgeoning street art scene. Etien, a French artist, is responsible for two of the most iconic pieces in the city: the whale and the turtle. These can be found at the end of the Strossmayer promenade, offering a breathtaking view of Zagreb’s cathedral.
Lonac’s work stands out in particular, as he has a knack for incorporating the structure and objects of the wall into his murals. His pieces are incredibly realistic, creative, and simply awe-inspiring. To see more of the work these artists have done around the world, be sure to check out their Instagram accounts.
Pimp My Pump: A Unique Street Art Project in Zagreb
Zagreb’s street art is more than just murals. A great example of this is the ‘Pimp My Pump’ project, which was created by Croatian artist Boris Bare in 2016. In the past, street pumps were a hub of every neighbourhood, as they provided the most essential resource – water. However, with the advent of water connections in every household, these pumps have become obsolete. Bare’s mission was to bring back the good old days to the pumps, through colour and joy. Thus, the ‘Pimp My Pump’ project was born. Many pumps, mostly outside of the city centre, have been pimped with a variety of themes, from Darth Vader to the Simpsons and the British Post Office. Whenever a new pump is pimped, crowds gather around it, just like they used to in the past.
Most of the artists involved in the project are not happy that city tour providers are taking money for guided street art tours. They believe that street art should be free for everyone to enjoy. While I understand their frustration, I also appreciate the existing graffiti tours in cities that are popular for their murals. These tours not only show you how to appreciate the art, but also explain the meanings and history behind it. If you’re interested in taking a guided street art tour in Zagreb, the guys from ‘Zagrebee’ offer a great one. If you’ve already taken the tour, let me know in the comments below whether it was worth it!