“Each heart I paint is dedicated to a person I've lost.”
“One of my hearts, a blue one, is for my partner who passed away, the street artist Lord ForShow. He used to paint in blue, so it felt right."
Algebra, street artist in Stavanger
For years, Stavanger has been the Norwegian epicentre of street art, attracting talented artists from all around the world, thanks largely to the famous street art festival Nuart.
“I think most street art pieces have some kind of meaning for the artist, but that does not necessary mean that the audience has to have the same understanding."
“The purpose of street art is to make people reflect, and, of course, to decorate the walls — of which Stavanger has plenty."
Get to know local street artist Algebra, and join her on a guided tour of her favourite pieces in the city.
The combination of old, traditional, wooden houses and progressive street art, by both Norwegian and international street artists, makes Stavanger unique. Find out what not to miss when visiting this colourful city.
Pøbel, Banksy, Dotdotdot, Dolk, and Martin Whatson are just some of the talented street artists who have left their mark on Stavanger in Fjord Norway. When you walk through the city, it almost feels like there's been a colour explosion, with cutting edge street art on almost every available wall.
"The whole city just feels like a big neighbourhood," Algebra explains.
Algebra's real name is Priscila Serrano, but with a mathematician dad, and art inspired by geometrical figures, the nickname Algebra describes the local street artist well.
“Street art is an art form in constant flux. That's the beauty of it.” Algebra
"The pieces are usually not meant to last forever. They're supposed to be covered up with new ones over time. The general rule is, the cooler the art, the longer it stays. Memorial pieces are usually the only ones that remain untouched," Algebra explains.
Algebra's style is very much influenced by her Mexican heritage, as well as her interest in anatomy and geometry. But her biggest inspiration is Marius, aka the street artist Lord ForShow, who passed away in 2015.
"I'm currently working on a tribute wall for Marius. The piece is a traditional, Norwegian Marius pattern on a garage door, outside my workspace. He used to always wear a Marius sweater (a traditional Norwegian knitted sweater)," says Algebra, who is wearing a Marius sweater herself.
As a street artist, musician, and music teacher, Algebra knows a fair bit about what's happening in the city's cultural scene. She has also worked with several incredible street artists, including the Norwegian artist Pøbel, who is famous for his (often) politically motivated and hyper relevant art pieces.
"One of my absolute favourite pieces in the city is made by Pøbel. It's a huge street art piece located inside the local hospital, which was made as a tribute to the workers there, to thank them for everything they did during the pandemic. What's really nice about it is the fact that it's only meant to be seen by those working, or staying, at the hospital," Algebra says.
Photographs of Pøbel's piece, featuring two healthcare workers hugging while wearing face masks, went viral in Norway, and is an excellent example of how powerful street art can be.
More works by Pøbel and other talented street artists can be found on much more accessible places in Stavanger – tin fact, the whole city is like one big art scene! We asked Algebra to take us to her favourite pieces. Here's what she doesn't want you to miss during your stay.
Let's go for a walk through the city!
For more than 15 years, Stavanger hosted the renowned street art festival NuArt. You'll find pieces by some of the world's best street artists made in connection with NuArt throughout the city and the surrounding countryside.
The art includes situationism, graffiti, post-graffiti, muralism, comic culture, stencil art, activism, and more.
Check out NuArt's website.
We start the tour in an area Algebra knows well – the backyard of the youth culture house Metropolis, in the city centre.
Algebra often teaches art classes to young people here, and the area is filled with a variety of striking pieces...
...including this vibrant fox, which has been here for years.
“I think people like this one, as it's stayed untouched for so long. The intense colours have faded a bit over time, but I still really like it. The artist is M.u.M from Chile.”
Outside the KRA shared art space, a ten-minute walk from the fox, you'll find a piece Algebra made together with the digital painter Kai Simenstad.
“KRA wanted something that symbolized it, and liked my look with geometrical figures. There's also a heron living nearby, so they wanted to incorporate that into the piece.”
This huge grenade decorates a wall, a two-minute walk north on Nedre Banegate street.
The piece is the result of two days of work from a crane, and was made in 2014 by the talented French artist Tilt for the Nuart festival.
“This one is chaos in control, that's what I love about it. The balance between the colours is also super nice. I'm sure this piece has a deeper meaning... ”
You'll find many more amazing pieces in the same area, so take your time and explore. You will probably spot this one by ROA.
The artist has done two murals in Stavanger, and is well-known for his signature motif of placing animals in an urban context.
Want to see more monumental art?
You'll find this impressive piece by Spanish artists HOW & NOSM at the intersection of Taugata and Johannesgata.
“It's messy and random, but still pleasing. One of my absolute favourites.”
In Stavanger, you'll find street art in lots of different styles.
This one, by the Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic, is inspired by traditional cross stitching.
Further down the same street, Nedstrandsgata street, you'll find another colourful piece.
The Norwegian stencil artist Martin Whatson is famous for his dancers with graffiti and tags. This one really pops, with its location alongside Stavanger's traditional white wooden houses.
Northwards on Pedersgata street, there is a giant piece by Norwegian artist Pøbel called Nuclear Babies Make Weird Faces.
From here, walk eastwards until you arrive at Tou Scene, and Algebra's final recommendation...
... Gone Believer by the British street art duo Snik.
The piece is designed with the surrounding ivy in mind, making the art blend into the environment over time. What a perfect match.
Small street art pieces can sometimes be hard to spot, especially when they're designed to blend in with the surroundings. Stavanger is full of them, you just have to look extra carefully.
Go on a treasure hunt for these excellent, but smaller, colourful pieces:
Pinks by Dotmaster is located at Klubbgata 4 in Stavanger, and was created for the 2019 NuArt Festival. The English artist often creates street-based illusions, which attempt to trick the viewer's eye.
Pansy Project was initiated by Paul Harfleet. The street art project addresses homophobic abuse. All over the world, Paul has painted (or planted) pansies, a garden flower that shares its name with a homophobic slur, at sites of homophobic abuse.
In Stavanger, you'll find the tiny flower at Domkirkeplassen and at Fri Bar.
It's impossible to miss some street art. Stavanger has some massive pieces, covering entire walls, you just have to know where to go to find them! Here's some worth checking out:
Helge by Smug is a huge piece, overlooking the entrance of Kannik Secondary School in Stavanger. The Australian graffiti artist Smug is known for mastering the difficult task of making highly technical pieces on a large scale. Impressive, right?
The last traveller by Nimi depicts a female figure on the side of the Jorenholmen parking garage. With this piece, the Bergen based artist wanted to highlight the struggles nomadic peoples are facing worldwide.
Dünkelziffer by the Norwegian street artist DOT DOT DOT is an impressive work made with stencils. You'll find the enormous businessman in Salvågergata street.
Arriving in Stavanger by bus? Check out In Bloom by Alice Pasquini, located at the city's bus terminal.
If you're more into letterform murals or the calligraffiti style, Stavanger has those too. Check out these amazing pieces:
Remember to always check where spray painting is permitted before starting. Several of the biggest cities in Norway have dedicated areas where everyone can practise and make street art.
In Stavanger, you can spray in dedicated areas in the Geopark, a reconstructed oil and gas facility used for activities such as skating, climbing, beach volleyball, graffiti art, performances, concerts, dance, and classes.
Want to see as many pieces as possible? Explore the city on foot with this route:
Stavanger is not the only city with vibrant art. Check out Norway's top street art destinations.
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