With the pace of modern life in a sprawling metropolis like Istanbul, there’s no wonder the millions of people rushing about their daily lives spend little time admiring the beauty of the city. While there’s been a big effort in recent years to bring more landscaping and planning to Istanbul, it’s as if the city is crying out for something a little more authentic.
Istanbul street art is just that—a little informal, a little rough around the edges, but always honest. If you haven’t gotten to know this expressive side of the city yet, be sure to head over to the Mural-İst Mural Festival held in Moda by the Kadıköy Municipality. You’ll be surprised by the stunning hues and tones the gray walls of Kadıköy’s narrow streets have now taken on.
With Russian, Spanish, and American painters joining Turkish artists in showing off their talents, this ongoing street art festival continues to turn the walls in the district into works of art. Turkey’s Reyn, Cins, Nuka, and Wicx; America’s Levi and Krist; Spain’s Deih; and Russia’s Qbic are taking to the streets to transform them into something spectacular. The fruits of their labor are eagerly awaited by both art lovers and residents. Those living in the neighborhood might have a better idea of what these artists are going to produce, since the works don’t go ahead until they’ve had a peek at the first sketches—the muralists won’t start work without the blessing of the locals. The murals are created using a combination of house paint and spray paint and can take up to seven days to complete.
This is the fourth year the Kadıköy Municipality has invited these artists from around the globe to allow them to express their inner worlds on the streets of Kadıköy. Over the past three years, 16 walls in the Yeldeğirmeni area of the district have been painted by seven local and nine foreign artists as part of the Mural-İst festival. If you want to see what the fourth year of the festival has in store, be sure to walk past the Emek Apartmanı building on Ağabey Street in Moda.
In early June 2015, the Tatar artist Qbic stepped onto a dreary street in Kadıköy and brought it to life with the strokes of his brush. Using tones of light pink and the imagery of nature, Qbic depicts a woman carrying her unborn child and evokes a sense of innocence, fragility, and even a touch of sorrow. You’ll understand why the title “Miracle” is so fitting as soon as you see it. Once locals would walk down this street without a second thought, now they take a second to admire and reflect on this stunning piece of art.
You won’t just find Istanbul street art in Kadıköy, you’ll find it nestled in every corner of the city. The wall of Urban Cafe on Beyoğlu’s Kartal Street, Bird in İBB Kent Park, Instant Cross on Makaracılar Avenue, and Done in Rumeli Feneri Köyü are just some examples of wonderful art on the streets of the city.
And artists aren’t just using to create their pieces on the streets of Istanbul. For instance, the Urban Geode phenomenon, created by the Los Angeles artist Paige Smith, takes inspiration from the geode rock formations found in nature. Yağmur Rüzgar has taken Paige’s creation and made it her own on the streets of Karaköy and Moda. Using colored paper and plastics to create these interesting shapes, Rüzgar decorates the broken and cracked façades and brickwork of some of Istanbul’s more neglected buildings with these little explosions of artistic flair. Though the gestures may be small, they reflect the vibrant artistic scene that lays below the surface of the city.