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Tartu – the paradise of Estonian street art

Estonia's overall art scene is colourful and varied, besides the multitude of different trends, galleries and exhibitions, the lively and playful street art is represented, offering great experience. Tartu is well-known as a city decorated with street art, today's interpretation of art is encountered almost every step of the way through graffiti and colourful messages. The latter have both political as well as satirical meanings, but they all decorate the urban scene in their own way. As street art in Estonia is actually prohibited by law, the fact that it is created in co-operation with the city government adds a special and unique touch to the graffiti in the heart of the city, which is why Tartu can essentially be called the capital of Estonian street art.

 

In Tartu, template art or stencil stands out, which can be encountered in the city centre as well as in suburbs, on house walls as well as under bridges. The residents of Tartu are no strangers to toilet graffiti either – it can be found in both the Genialists' Club’s as well as Café Säde’s water closets. You can get acquainted with this modern form of art at the annual street art festival "Stencibility", which began already in the year 2010. Active local street artists and also foreign artists take part in the event. The festival’s programme is diverse, featuring an art contest, a photo competition, workshops, and drawing joint works on large walls.

 

One of the most famous street artists in Tartu (and in the whole of Estonia) is the mysterious Edward von Lõngus, or Estonia’s own Banksy, whose works can be found on many walls. His works have been represented at exhibitions and sold at art auctions, and he has attracted the attention of journalists as well as art critics. Edward von Lõngus mainly performs his work in stencil technique, using themes and symbols from Estonian culture, politics and history. In 2018, the artist celebrates the Estonian jubilee with the (R)estart Reality tour across Europe, in the course of which larger than life-size street art works will appear in about ten European capital cities. Important keywords for this art project are Estonia, art as a means of conveying important messages to us, a certain shift in reality, and experiencing something new. The entire undertaking and the 100-year-old Estonians journey through time can be explored in more detail through the applications developed specifically for the project.

 

In order to find all the masterpieces in the city of good thoughts, take a look at the map of Tartu’s street art, where all the locations of graffiti images found in the city centre are marked. Local art and Tartu’s unique cultural landscape can also be explored on adventurous thematic tours that are conducted by Tartu Pseudo Tours, led by street art enthusiast Salme Kulmar. On these excursions, the true charm of Tartu is revealed in the diverse neighbourhoods with wood architecture, and you can learn more about the history through art works and listening to exciting stories. Set out on an exciting walk around Tartu with your family or friends and discover the modern art hidden in the streets.

Last updated: 22.11.2018

Marten Osijärv
Erika Puusemp
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Foto: Jaan Muna