ReturnHola Utopia! Scores Success in its Sophomore Season
Montana Colors’ flagship event resulted in eight new large-scale murals in the northern German city of Hannover.
The second edition of Hola Utopia! is in the can, with eight diverse examples of new muralism added to the Hannover landscape and links strengthened between Barcelona and the city that is home to its German subsidiary.
Spanish artists Yubia and Irene López León made their contribution to a line-up of local talent including Nasca, Anna T. Iron, Kartel, Rookie The Weird, Team D.O.T.U. and Cuadro Frezca, along with Bart Sucharski, who traveled from Hannover’s sister city Poznań in Poland.
Mayor and CEO of the city of Hannover Belit Onay was part of a press conference that took place as the festival reached its conclusion, as festival organizers Artie Ilsemann and Jascha Müller joined members of the tourist and youth culture departments to underline the importance of the event.
“The city has a long history of art and design in public spaces,” explains Ilsemann. “The “Nana” pieces by Nikki de Saint Phalle from the 70’s, bus stops designed by Alessandro Mendini, Ettore Sottsass and Frank O. Gehry in the 90’s and John Raymond Henry’s more recent huge metal sculpture “Symphony in Red” which greet the city’s visitors. With the murals we add the dimension of painting. Green Party Mayor Onay is a strong supporter of a plan to develop urban art in Hannover.”
Ilsemann was delighted with the impact of the festival, despite the humble size of the city: “As one of Germany’s smaller cities (600k inhabitants), Hannover is still not too familiar with the theme of mural art. We have the impression that this year we have added some important new spots to the playground, including the façade of one building inside Hannover Central Station, two works near the university of Hannover and others in the city center. With the results from 2020 we now have a nice map to check out when visiting Hannover.”
Aside from the new public artwork produced during the week, visitors to Hola Utopia! 2021 could take home their own piece of exclusive artwork in the form of MTN Special Edition Cans and screen prints featuring the detailed surrealistic animal impressions of Rookie The Weird, who also produced two solo murals.
The styles of the artists were so diverse that there will be a piece for everyone’s tastes, but it’s hard to pick just one out for praise.
Following the route suggested on the official website, the collaboration between Anna T. Iron and Yubia presented a contrast in the comic styles of the two artists, the neon fades of Iron contrasting with the bold characters of Yubia.
Just a few steps away, Rookie The Weird painted two sides of a residential building featuring a one-man band and accompanying creatures.
Nasca One, an artist well known to followers of MTN Germany through his collaborations with the subsidiary, had the pleasure of painting a striking tiger with great visibility around the city center.
Team D.O.T.U. had the unusual task of being invited to paint two sides of a structure on the platform of the central station, their bold and childlike forms brightening up the journey of the thousands of commuters who pass though the station every day. The abstract mural of Kartel was also painted in clear view of the trains running on the elevated tracks.
The second wall by Rookie The Weird, the mammoth warped landscape of Cuadro Frezca and the signature fauna of Irene López Léon were all painted further afield, but served to increase the reach of the festival to the suburbs surrounding the city.
The final piece on the tour was an unusual intervention by Bart Sucharski, whose stencilled letters calling for us to “STOP SMOG” were painted without a background at the Glocksee Theater which also hosted the press conference.
The hard work had clearly been done in the preparation of the event in order to secure such prominent surfaces around the city. Co-organizer Jascha Müller explains the process: “First of all it’s a trip trough the city with open eyes to find nice spots. For me with a background of graffiti writing, that’s the fun part. Then comes the most time consuming task: you need to find a way to talk to the owner, which can be frustrating considering the low feedback rate. When you succeed in contacting the landlord, they need to like the concept of the festival. And finally, you have to hope that the owner likes the sketch of the artist.”
Müller has already got his eyes on spaces for the 2022 edition: “I guess next year we will have even nicer spots because we can show the good results from this year. I will start to do the research earlier because we got permission just before the festival started in some cases.”
Credit must go out to the artists who soldiered on through conditions that were not always ideal. Müller was on the front line during the festival: “In a five day mural festival the weather conditions are always critical. But in the end we were lucky to have just a few showers. Because I am a painter myself, i had the pleasure to help here and there. As i like to have good assistance myself, I’m happy to help others out.”
The final results of Hola Utopia! Have inspired the city residents and artistic community alike, as Müller explains: “We’ve already been contacted by artists who want to be part of Hola Utopia! 2022. That’s a great compliment. Beside that, many people in Hannover are stunned by the work. They are simply not familiar with this kind of art form. They are honestly surprised by the sheer size and the craftsmanship.”
Irene Lopéz León shared her impressions of the festival from the point of view of a participating artist: “In general I’m happy with the result of the wall, with the organization and with the trip overall. At the end of the day, the experience is shaped by people involved and at Hola Utopia! I’ve worked with some stars.”
MTN News can report that the dates of Hola Utopia! 2022 have just been confirmed. From 15th to 21st August 2022, Hannover will once again be the focus of the international urban art community. Müller is already looking forward to it: “The concept is evolving and luckily we are in a good position to have the control over the direction things are going. We can’t wait to bring the artists and the people of the city together to discuss topics for next year.”
Hola Utopía! is organized by Montana Colors and sponsored by Fonds Soziokultur, LHH Hannover FB Kultur, Soziokultur Niedersachsen, hanova, mateco, Gundlach and UJZ Glocksee.
Do you want the chance to win one of the Special Edition Cans designed by Rookie The Weird? Follow @mtngermany and @hola_utopia on Instagram to find out how!
Photos by Kevin Münkel: https://kevinmuenkel.de/ShareSeptember 17, 2021