Street Art in Athens – Drawing a portrait of the city

People say graffiti is ugly, irresponsible and childish… but that’s only if it’s done properly.

Banksy, Wall and Piece

Street art is a form of art that is created and displayed in public places. According to Wikipedia : “Many instances come in the form of guerrilla art, which is intended to make a personal statement about the society that the artist lives within. The work has moved from the beginnings of graffiti and vandalism to new modes where artists work to bring messages, or just beauty, to an audience”. Street art springs from the life of the city. It is created by the most lively and restless part of the society and reflects in every period the real soul of the city and the concerns of its inhabitants. Street art is a unique portrait of every city.

There is a slight distinction between graffiti and street art. Graffiti typically consists of written words intended to represent a group or community, while street art includes images and symbols. While both works represent a message, the difference between them is their audience. Street art generally wants to attract a wide audience, while graffiti in most cases is aimed at a specific group.

Street art has developed mainly in large urban centres and Athens is no exception. The central areas of Athens have become one of the hottest destinations in the world for street artists. The city centre is full of graffiti and murals depicting almost everything. No one can record all the street art works that exist in the neighbourhoods of the city. Apart from their large number, they are also living works that could be destroyed at any time and others could take their place.

The neighbourhoods of Athens that are real street art galleries with numerous works (some of them made to order) are Psyri (Ψυρρή), Metaxourgeio (Μεταξουργείο), Gazi (Γκάζι) and Exarcheia (Εξάρχεια). But there are also many remarkable works in Plaka (Πλάκα), Monastiraki (Μοναστηράκι) and Petralona (Πετράλωνα) – in our favourite Thessalonikis Street there are some very good examples. Of course, this does not mean that there are no remarkable and unique works in other neighbourhoods of Athens.

In the article we have selected 15 works by various artists which we met and photographed during our wanderings in the city and have become our favourites.

Ode 2, The Big Sea by Leonidas Giannakopoulos (Agiou Konstantinou 58, Metaxourgeio)

So Many Books, So Little Time by SimpleG (Megalou Alexandrou 2, Metaxourgeio)

Untitled by Alexandros Vasmoulakis (Plateia Iroon, Psyri)

Loukanikos, The Riot Dog by Billy Gee, Alex Martinez and N_Grams (Riga Palamidou & Sarri, Psyri) *

The Musicians by Paparazzi and Achilleas Michaelides (Riga Palamidou & Sarri, Psyri)

Untitled by STMTS (Louka Nika 8, Psyri)

Untitled by Achilles (Tournavitou 11, Psyri)

Faces In Love by Achilles and One Bran (Aiolou 54, Monastiraki)

Access Control by Aiva and INO (Peipaios 105, Gazi)

Untitled by WD (Wild Drawing) (Plato’s Academy Archaeological Park, Akadimia Platonos)

Eternal Traveller by Leonidas Giannakopoulos (Liosion 66, Sepolia)

Four Elements by WD (Wild Drawing) (Parko Stratou/Army Park, Goudi)

He is Praying For Us or Praying Hands by Pavlos Tsakonas, Manolis Anastasakos and Kretsis Crew (Peiraios 20, Omonoia) & Wake Up by INO (Koletti 13, Exarcheia)

Photo at the top : Untitled by pandelis.v (Riga Palamidou 1, Psyri)

This is a random selection of works by known and unknown artists we came across in the neighbourhoods of the city (from the top left : Syntagma Square, Kerameikos, Psyri, Psyri, Kolonaki, Psyri & Thiseio) :

Map with the 15 locations in Athens :

*[Read here the story of Loukanikos]