I’m a fan of street art. It gives the city, the neighbourhood or a street a bit of an extra. But if you think of street art, you won’t think of Belgium. Let alone a city like Leuven. Still it’s this city where you can enjoy some great food and beer ánd see some amazing street art at the same time. It’s a great mix of small and intimate works, combined with immense and abundant pieces. And every day new works appear! The street art of Leuven is growing and growing.
Originally Leuven is an artistic and literary city. A city full of historical libraries, writers and artists. In this respect it isn’t that strange that new modern arts also reached Leuven. Local artists saw street art as the perfect way to brighten up some dark and grey corners of the city. Here the streets scene was characterised by grey walls, decayed houses and closed factories. These are not the streets that are on the top of your must-see list. But this has changed. A couple of years ago local artists grabbed the opportunity to get rid of the grey and dull areas. One of these artists is DinDin, a power woman who tries to brighten up the streets with fun colors and images like flowers and butterflies. Other works come from the artist Bisser, who mainly works with black and white colors. You can also recognize his work by the weird little bored men with open mouths or small eyes. Together these artists changed the street scene of Leuven. So dust off your sneakers and start discovering.
The Diestsestreet is a modern shopping street like so many others. This is exactly the place where you won’t expect any street art. But exactly the opposite is true, because this street is full of small cartoons, weird faces and little scenes that makes the shopping crowd laugh or startle. Take for instance the piercing eyes of a little boy with a skull in its hand. That really makes you look twice. So pay attention to the little corners and sideways to spot the fun or weird sketches.
The Mechelsestreet is thé perfect example of past glory. Once this street was a buzzing scene with a good working factory of Stella Artois (local beer brand). Day in day out you could hear the rattling of bottles as the whole neighbourhood worked in the factory. It were good times, until the building was shut down. Today the factory is a run-down building with hardly any glass in the windows. Also the street isn’t as buzzing as it used to be. Run-down houses, holes in the wall and garbage around you. Also the city council noticed this and decided it had to change. And so they asked local artists to transform the Mechelsestraat into a hotspot for street art. The grey walls turned out to be a perfect spot for creating some great art pieces. Little monkeys, birds and flies, you can find it all in this street. It’s still undiscovered by large groups of tourists, so you’ll have the whole place for yourself.
Update February 2016: sadly most of the street art in the Mechelsestraat is gone.
Want to discover the street art of Leuven, but not in the mood to do it all by yourself? The Leuven Urban Art Tour might be an option for you. It’s an easy and fun way to see a lot of great pieces that are scattered around this city. With the help of a personal guide you will see the best spots for streetart in less than 2 hours (€25). And when the tour ends you can also join a workshop creating your own piece of street art. Because we only spend a short weekend in Leuven, we decided to discover the street art by ourselves.
Are you a street art fan, or isn’t it really your thing?