Even if you’re the kind of person who refuses to visit a museum, it’s impossible to completely avoid art in Valencia. For years, underground artists have been transforming the city into an open-air gallery, covering walls, fences and entire buildings with works of beauty and ingenuity.
The nexus for Valencia’s street art is indisputably El Carmen. This was once a run-down neighborhood full of neglected buildings, empty walls, and apathetic residents; all of which made it a perfect playground for the city’s up-and-coming street artists. Today, living conditions in El Carmen have improved, but the neighborhood has stubbornly held onto its punk aesthetic, and street artists are largely encouraged to continue making the neighborhood a more colorful place.
Valencia’s most renowned artist is probably Escif. His works often cover entire walls, and always come attached with some sort of deeper meaning, if you can puzzle out what he’s trying to say. Escif has done work in other cities around the world, from Baltimore to Paris to India, but Valencia has always been his favorite canvas.
Also unavoidable in Valencia are the kawaii-inspired paintings of Julieta, who is a part of the city-wide XLF crew. Her style is instantly recognizable, with imaginative scenes that almost always feature a girl with her eyes closed. Trees might be sprouting from her hair, she might be surrounded by animals, or in a forest… the only guarantee is that it’s going to be cute.
There are a lot of other artists, as well. And Valencia’s street art extends well past El Carmen… you’ll also find excellent work in La Xerea, El Pilar, Ruzafa and Cabanyal. With apologies to the IVAM, Valencia’s best gallery might be its streets, where exhibitions are constantly changing, and new pieces of art can be found almost every single day.