Tomorrow marks the beginning of MURAL Festival, Montreal one of the largest public art gatherings in the world, which celebrates street art. It’s only five editions old, but MURAL has already contributed to Montreal a lasting legacy of 80 murals, and they’re going to add 20 more to their catalogue this year. The whole affair is a chance for art enthusiasts to engage with street art at a deeper level, and to see how art can make a different to public spaces and vice-versa.

MURAL will take place from June 8 to June 18, on Saint-Laurent Boulevard between Sherbrooke Street and Mont-Royal Avenue, which will be closed to traffic during the duration of festival and turned into in a free-access pedestrian zone. The fest has again collaborated with a stellar lineup of internationally renowned muralists this year, and here are some of the folks we’re most excited about.

Ron English (USA)

English is an iconoclast of the brashest order, constantly interjecting his fun and irreverent take on pop culture into the global media. His style is subversive, and is teeming with dark undertones beneath all the flash and colour. ‘POPaganda’ is the word English chooses when trying to describe his own aesthetic, which blurs the lines between highbrow and lowbrow. Whether it’s the President of the United States, Ronald McDonald, Mickey Mouse or Marilyn Monroe, nothing is spared by English’s fundamentally rebellious take on street art. 

INSA (UK)

INSA’s work can be terrifying, which makes sense, given that Freddie Krueger’s ‘Nightmare on Elm Streets’ figures among his early and lasting influences. His ‘GIF-itti‘ series has been blowing up on the internet for a while now, and I can’t even begin to imagine the kind of effort it takes to create something like it. While he is known to work with big brands like Sony and Netflix and Nike, INSA’s own work rails against capitalist society’s tendency for fetishes and objectification. Pop culture isn’t separate from consumerism, according to INSA. It is consumerism. 

 

1010 (Germany)

Of all the guys on this list, I’d most like to see 1010’s (pronounced ‘ten ten’) work in the flesh. Using just paint, 1010 creates huge, gaping optical illusions on large-scale canvases that are striking in their realism, and confusing because of just how real they look. Whether it’s on the side of a building or on display in a gallery, 1010’s aesthetic has drawn accolades in both settings. He has chosen to remain anonymous, so not much is known about him except that he came to Germany with his Polish parents at a very young age.

Ricardo Cavolo (Spain)

I recognised Cavolo’s style the minute I looked him up. In May last year, Canadian producer Kaytranada dropped his debut album, 99.9%, for which Cavolo created the artwork. I played that album on heavy rotation all of last year, and  Cavolo’s folk-ish, doodle-inspired vibe, I remember thinking, fits well with the playfulness of Kaytranada’s production — weird and twisted, but also inviting and childlike. 

Fintan Magee (Australia)

 

Fintan Magee has been called the ‘Banksy of Australia’ more than once, by more than one ‘lazy journalist’. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Yes, they are both extremely political artists, but to make this comparison is to take away from Magee’s highly individualistic style. Banksy is more austere and sensationalist, whereas Fintan Magee’s visuals are rich, surreal and expansive. Climate change and the immigrant crisis are two social justice movements that have recently found themselves in his crosshairs.

 

MURAL 2017 will also feature ,any prominent Canadian artists including Fluke and Dodo from A’Shop, Ola Volo, SbuOne, Scribe csx, Kevin Ledo, Monosourcil, Mort, Aydin Matlabi and Miss Me.

Oh, and there’s also the Mural Art Fair (Foire d’art mural or FAM), which will return to the festival for a third time this year.  For more information about the art fair specifically, you can visit www.famartfair.com. And grab your tickets to MURAL right here.

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