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Street art by SMUG on a building in Stavanger, Fjord Norway
Street art by SMUG in Stavanger.
Photo: Brian Tallman Photography / Nuart

Norway is a big (and free!) outdoor art exhibition. Look up and around and enjoy a dense collection of spray-painted glory. Street art enthusiast and author Martin Berdahl Aamundsen guides you through some of the hot spots.

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“There is more acceptance for street art than ever.”

But wait, what happened? For a long time, Norway fought tooth and nail against street art. Murals and graffiti walls were removed as soon as they saw the light of day, and street artists were punished with heavy fines. Today, however, many cities allocate money to street art projects.

“The attitude towards street art has unquestionably changed. In Oslo, for instance, it used to be zero tolerance for street art. In recent years, however, the city has worked hard to gain a reputation as a ‘street art city’. Urban street art can be seen in every nook and cranny of the city, and new pieces are constantly popping up. There is more acceptance for street art than ever”, says Berdahl Aamundsen.

Street art by Ener Konings on a silo in Stavanger, Fjord Norway
Street art by Ener Konings in Stavanger.
Photo: Brian Tallman Photography / Nuart

What is unique about street art as an art form?
“The power lies in the way it communicates – that it unfolds in the public space. Street art often mirrors society at the time it’s created, and it creates an immediate reaction there and then.”

What are the hot spots?
“There has been a big street art scene in Bergen for several years, and the city attracts street artists from all over the country. I will argue that this is where you find some of the most impressive artworks – especially when it comes to stencil art.”

In fact, Bergen is home to many of Norway’s most famous street artists, such as Dolk, AFK, and TEG.

"Munch (2015)" by Steffen Kverneland in the neighbourhood of Tøyen in Oslo, Eastern Norway
"Munch (2015)" by Steffen Kverneland: Tøyen, Oslo.
Photo: VisitOSLO / Tord Baklund

“Stavanger is another highlight, home to several amazing walls created by both international and local public art practitioners. This is where Pøbel, one of the most internationally recognized Norwegian street artists, comes from. A good thing about the street art in Stavanger is that everything is situated within a 10-minute walk, making it easy to explore. Stavanger is also the host of the annual Nuart street art festival, which attracts the best public art practitioners in the world. During the festival, the whole city turns into an amusement park for street art enthusiasts”, says Berdahl Aamundsen enthusiastically.

Ever since it was arranged for the first time in 2001, the Nuart street art festival has held its position as the world’s leading street art festival. During the whole month of September, street art buffs from all over the world can enjoy a series of citywide exhibitions, events, performances, and workshops.

If you want to learn more about how Stavanger became one of the world’s leading street art destinations, you can join one of Nuart’s street art walking tours.

Colourful street art on a building in Tøyen in Oslo, Eastern Norway
Street art in Tøyen in Oslo.
Photo: VisitOSLO / Tord Baklund
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But street art can also be found outside the biggest cities?
“Definitely. One of the coolest projects ever is “Ghetto spedalsk” (Ghetto leprous), a project by Dolk and Pøbel, where they decorated abandoned buildings in the Lofoten Islands in the north of Norway.”

The project aimed at drawing attention to the depopulation and decay in rural parts of Lofoten, and it became one of the most talked-about art projects in Norway in the last decade.

Other cities above the Arctic Circle that have become rich in urban art in recent years include Bodø and Vardø.

Far south in Norway lies the town of Flekkefjord – another gem for street art enthusiasts. Here, in an area called the Dutch quarter (Hollanderbyen), you can enjoy a rare mix of old, white wooden houses and colorful murals and pieces of graffiti.

A mural by INTI in Tøyen, Oslo
The treasure hunter by INTI in Tøyen, Oslo.
Photo: Harald Hansen
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