For all its natural beauty, Iceland doesn't always have the best weather. In fact, oftentimes the weather is downright foul. Sure, Iceland's rugged landscapes are the stuff of legends, but that is of little consequence in urban Reykjavík. In its epicenter, Reykjavík has many beautiful areas, but the further away from the city center you travel, the more those beautiful areas will give way to cold, grey, soviet-esque suburbia. It can feel pretty lonely out there, but even in these bleak spaces, Reykjavík still found ways to surprise me. In the ugly, in-between spaces, in Reykjavík's less-visited nooks and crannies, I began to stumble upon gorgeous works of art. A mysterious street art scavenger hunt unfolded before me as I dove down every back alley I saw in search of more.
Even in the summer, grey skies hung low over Reykjavík, and cold wind whistled off of the North Atlantic. As much as I loved Reykjavík, I can 100% see how living there for an extended period of time could wear on you. But with these tough northern elements beating down on Reykjavík, these vibrant pieces of art were lights in the dark. Here's some of what I found...
A Taste Of Reykjavík's Street Art
These pieces seemed pretty random to me when they first started appearing, but the more I explored Reykjavík, the more I began to understand that these were part of something bigger. Reykjavík has a blossoming art scene full of talented, decorated artists. I don't feel like I have the authority to make any sweeping statements about that art scene, but I do want to attempt to give credit where credit is due...
Many of these pieces remain mysterious to me, but with some sleuthing, I was able to track down the identities of a couple of these talented artists. Neither of the following artists are native-born Icelanders, but both of them have made significant artistic contributions. So without further adieu, here are a couple stand-outs.
Guido's work is the cover photo for this article. That painting was part of a bigger series on Reykjavík's waterfront, which was all in the same style. Later in my travels through Iceland, I would make my way up to a town called Akureyri, and when I got there I immediately recognized more of his work on Hafnarstræti street, a main road of the city. I should have taken steps to figure who he was right then and there, but to my own amazement, I was able to ascertain his identity after I had already left the country. And I was impressed with what I found. Here's a video of more of his work in Akureyri...
All I really know about this guy is that he hails from Spain, and that his work can be found, literally, all over Reykjavik. It took no time at all for me to begin to be able to tell his work apart from the rest of what I saw, so he's got a distinct style. However, of all his smaller pieces, one giant mural stood out above the rest. The folks at Street Art News seem to agree with me. If you're interested in finding out more about him, check out this video, or follow the link to his website, above.
This is the second "Camera Roll" article I've published. The first was a similar series from Toronto, Canada. I've really enjoyed putting these two articles together, so look out for more up this same vein in the future.
Up next, it's time for us to get out of Reykjavík. Hold onto your hats.