7 Kickass Belgian Wholecars Selected by Painted Trains
Last week the graffiti crew Nawas took us all by surprise, spelling out “Nachtwacht” (Night watch) in bold letters along an entire train. Sadly, it won’t be too long before those train cars get buffed again. Luckily, the leading platform for train graffiti in Belgium, Painted Trains shared a video of the eye-catching work passing by. We don’t know about you, but we got curious about what other graffiti artists have been pimping our Belgian railways. The perfect opportunity to ask the guys behind Painted Trains about their 7 favourite painted trains!
Wholetrain pieces like the one from Nawas are very hard to come by. But there sure is a lot of kickass graffiti filling whole train cars from top to bottom, which are called “wholecars” in graffiti terminology. Painted Trains narrowed their selection of wholecars down to those made by Belgian graffiti artists and crews. Otherwise, choosing only 7 would have been completely hopeless, as they told us. This speaks volumes about how many graffiti talent there really is in our country and abroad. The order is kept random, except for the first one.
This article is a collaboration with Painted Trains.
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The absolute number one in this selection dates back to almost six years, saying “no thanks” to nuclear power. According to Painted Trains this is the most impressive wholecar they’ve ever seen. It depicts the horror of March 11 in 2011, when the cores of three of the reactors at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant melted following a massive earthquake and a devastating tsunami. The piece also refers back to the famous Chernobyl disaster in 1986, while asking what’s next. The powerful work is by a graffiti painter who goes by the name “381”. He or she is assumed to be a member from the Belgian 2T crew, but might be working on his or her own as well.
This parody of the Angry Birds game appeared on one of our Belgian trains in the summer of 2015. The piece by the crew Dogs is not really a wholecar, but rather what is called “end-to-end” in graffiti terms since it is not painted from top to bottom. Nevertheless, this “Hungry Dogs” is one of Painted Trains all time favourites because of its humor and playfulness.
Another playful wholecar made its way into this selection. This time one by Froe from about two years ago. It is one part of three consecutive wholecars together with other artists. According to Painted Trains, it's one of the funniest pieces they’ve ever come across. Clever humor is a trademark of Froe's work. Here, a guy is still painting one of the windows. Or is he cleaning them? Amazingly enough, the artist doesn’t paint these train cars with a crew, but all by him- or herself.
The Nawas crew is very productive in and around Antwerp city. If you pay attention on the Ring around Antwerp, you’ll even be able to spot some of their pieces on the back of traffic signs and alongside the road. They are also known for graffiti ‘stunts’ where they openly communicate their political views. You might remember their makeover of the "Gazet van Antwerpen" sign to "Nawas van Antwerpen", which got a lot of media attention? This particular wholecar piece once again proves their relentless creativity with letters, while the dark spacey background is executed in great detail.
When talking about Belgian graffiti on trains, Animals (also known as "Animal Farm") is another crew that is hard to overlook. They are also Antwerp-based and just as productive as Nawas. Sometimes the members of the crew spray a train together, sometimes they do a wholecar by themselves. For painting train cars like this one, Animals often opt for silver letters on a black background for maximum impact. Just like Nawas’ wholetrain, but their letters are more organic and dynamic.
Another favourite of Painted Trains is the PSK crew from Wallonia, who have been in the game for thirteen years now and is known for making a great deal of wholecar pieces. Just take a look at this colourful masterpiece that stretches over not one, but two train cars! Almost a hundred different coloured tags together make up the interior of the letters, which are delineated with white on a contrasting black background.
Another name that pops up on train cars in our country a lot is Pasta - and we're not talking about the Italian food here. This list would not be complete without including a wholecar by this graffiti artist, according to Painted Trains. Pasta is a member of the criminels crew (or “CRL” in short) and comes from somewhere around Brussels.
As you can tell, not much is known about graffiti artists. Often even their gender remains a mystery. They both figuratively and literally work in the shadows, mostly at night. Not only because the trains are moving during the day, also because what they’re doing is still illegal. This is an inherent part of the graffiti scene. It is not about their persona; rather about how visible and original they can be with their letters and everything around it. And that is the way they need to keep it, if they want to keep on pimping our trains without being caught.
Interested in more painted trains from Belgium? Make sure to further explore their Instagram! Pro-tip: if you want to check out wholecars from all over the world, you can browse with the hashtags #wholecar and #wholecarwednesday.