La Gaceta De Mexico - Street art in Montreal is writ large

Street art in Montreal is writ large
Street art in Montreal is writ large / Photo: © AFP

Street art in Montreal is writ large

A mysterious creature playing piano, a white tiger baring its fangs, and a huge Batgirl: dozens of artists are busy this June painting giant frescoes for the tenth edition of Montreal's Mural festival.

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Started in 2012, the street art event is looking to be crowned the "leader in urban art" in North America, organizer Pierre-Alain Benoit told AFP.

Visitors can view more than 100 past and new murals in central neighborhoods of the French-speaking metropolis painted by artists from Canada and around the world. Twenty-one artists painted new murals this year.

Among them is Caroline Monnet, an Indigenous artist who traces her ancestry to the Great Lakes region of Canada and the US.

The first-timer here chose to paint geometric patterns of repeating triangles or lozenges common in Ashininaabe textiles, that have been "passed from generation to generation."

This celebration of her culture, she said, is also a political statement of sorts, admonishing the nation's colonial past.

"We have been excluded from any cultural expression for a very long time," she explained. "So to be able to have my art on a platform as large as this one, and to have it accessible to a wide audience as well... I think that's great."

"I think we're taking a step forward," she said, cans of spray paint in hand.

For others, such as Kata Hull, a painter from Boston visiting Montreal with her husband, the open-air exhibition poses an opportunity to reach a wider art audience.

"I like seeing art anywhere, so outside feels more accessible to more people. And not everybody's interested in gallery," she said.

Natalie Capuano, who snapped more than 500 photos of the murals, expressed pride at seeing so many of them, saying "it changes the look of the city."

"It's such a pleasure to come and discover new murals every year, we are often surprised and it's much more beautiful than bare walls," says the local resident.

Among the more famous murals in Montreal are two massive portraits of its most famous singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen, who died in 2016.

The festival is also showcasing 25 hip-hop artists including American rapper Lil Yachty and French rapper Kaaris.

And passersby who download the festival's app can check out augmented reality installations at two nearby parks.