Street Art – By Joe Thomas
The storefronts on La Rambla in Poblenou, a neighborhood in Barcelona. They showcase some of Tort’s murals. He painted the faces of a few of the residents in the area to make the streets seem more connected to the people. “What attracts me the most about street art is that you create something not just for one person that has money and wants to buy your art. It’s for the rich people, the poor people, for the adults, for the kids; it’s for everyone.”
Tort sits in his studio near Universitat Barcelona, surrounded by his spray cans and sketches. The first time he painted graffiti was when he was 12 years old, but after he started getting in trouble with the police and he stopped for almost a decade. “For 10 years I started painting t-shirts and skateboards, and from that I went back to walls but in a more creative and non-vandalistic way,” said Tort. “You can’t talk about art in our century without talking about street art,” he said.
Tort mainly uses spray paint for his work because he enjoys the range in looks it can provide. One can of professional spray paint costs around $3 and he can use dozens on a single mural depending on the scale. “[Spray paint] is so cool because you can do a lot of different shades. If you get closer it gets thin lines and if you get further away you can get shades and gradings.”
Tort now mainly focuses on faces. He painted the profile of a man who lives in the neighborhood surrounding Jardins d’Emma in Barcelona. The sign the man is holding reads “kultura,” or culture, which is what he said he wanted to spread most to the world. “I’m empowering unknown people on the street and giving them the opportunity to say something to society,” said Tort.
On this wall surrounding Jardins d’Emma de Barcelona, a few blocks from his apartment, there used to be graffiti painted alongside Tort’s murals. When the city council came to repaint the wall, they painted over everything except his work. Tort said they were able to recognize the difference between his murals and other graffiti.
On the roof of Tort’s apartment is a room that was abandoned for 18 years. After he got permission from the other residents of the building two years ago, he converted it into a space where he can freely paint and store his artwork. In this space, he has invited other street artists to paint the walls. He has held exhibitions where he has invited multiple artists at the same time to paint and collaborate in the space. The walls are constantly changing with a variety of styles from different street artists.
Tort stands in front of a portrait in his studio that was inspired by a photograph of a homeless man. He has painted portraits based on photographs by photojournalists including Steve McCurry. “I think that we are in this [economic] crisis because everyone is working in the wrong place,” he said. Tort wants more people to work on something that inspires them instead of just for money. Through ARTistLOVE, he hopes to help more people find their passions through art. When people join ARTistLOVE, he wants them to know, “I am just the seed, I am not the boss of anything. You’re not working for me you’re working for you.”
Tort finds items throughout the city that other people have discarded and uses them for his canvases. He has used items including doors, old paintings, posters and frames. He is holding one of his pieces that he created by finding a discarded picture frame then added paint by throwing it on the canvas. This was the first techniques he used when he started painting. “As an artist and as a person I think we should always be learning. Five years ago I never thought I would be at this point now. So in five more years I can not imagine where I’m going to be.”
Sunrise Doner Kebab and Perruqueria at Plaça de la Llana.
La Mila located in the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona.
Mural located at Carrer de Sant Pere Més Baix in Barcelona.
A mural of a child that Tort met in Africa peers out from behind canvases in his studio. Tort decided to create ARTistLOVE after an experience he had while traveling through Africa. He said, “The last days of my trip in Africa I was taking some photos of the sunset and a bunch of kids approached to where I was. We started writing our names on the rocks, taking photos and laughing. We didn’t talk the same language so it was really hard to understand each other… I always travel with paint so I tried to tell them, ‘Tomorrow let’s meet here and let’s paint.’ I didn’t know what was going to happen but then all of the kids of the town came. We started painting and it was one of the best days of my life. We didn’t even talk the same language but it was love and art that made everything possible. So after that, I started this ARTistLOVE project.”
Alkemia Tattoo and Piercing, located at Plaça de Sant Miquel in the Gothic quarter in Barcelona.
El Paraigua, located at Plaça de Sant Miquel in the Gothic quarter in Barcelona.
One O Nine tattoo and barber shop located at par Carrer de la Mare de Déu del Pilar in Barcelona.
Flags – By Clara Cutbill
A man carrying a suitcase passes by a building covered with Barceloneta neighborhood flags.
Two different types of the Estelada flag hang from a building in the city of Girona in northern Spain.
A man passes by an Estelada flag hanging over a restaurant in the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona.
Estelada flags hang between buildings over an alley in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona.
A destroyed Estelada flag remains hanging on a balcony near Plaça Catalunya.
A Senyera flag hangs off a balcony in the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona.
A Barceloneta neighborhood flag hangs off a balcony in Barceloneta.
From left to right: A Barceloneta neighborhood flag, a Estelada flag and an anti-tourism flag all hang off a balcony in the Barceloneta neighborhood.
Estelada flags hang off a building in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona.
Flags that represent Catalonia and Barcelona hang off a building on the edge of the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona.
An Estelada flag hangs from a window in the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona.