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10 Belgian Street Art Pieces of 2016 You Should Check Out

Stepping into 2017, 2016 was labelled as the year we will skip in future history lessons and this year seems to be our only hope. But, believe it or not, we are going to prove that 2016 was actually a good year! Not only when it comes to the local music scene (as you already know thanks to our weekly local hip-hop tracks lists), but also when it comes to our street art scene. To persuade you, we put together this convincing list of 10 Belgian street art pieces in our own country you should definitely check out!

The biggest highlights of last year were without a doubt the Sorry Not Sorry festival in Ghent, the Crystal Ship in Ostend, Meeting of Styles 2016 in Antwerp and Le Mur in Brussels. However, choices had to be made and works from all these events could not be featured. Choosing our top 10 was a tough call, since there is so much Belgian talent. But we got through it with a little help: our selection is not only based on the works' popularity on social media, but also on the opinion of Belgian street art photographers and enthusiasts. On top of that, we wanted to make sure you can go and visit these works that are located in public spaces. But don't wait too long, because street art can disappear as fast as it appeared!

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ROA for the first edition of the Crystal Ship festival at Ostend

This masterpiece is undoubtedly the most popular Belgian street art work of 2016. Worldwide, ROA is truly the most recognized export ‘product’ of our Belgian street art scene - more specifically from Ghent. He is worldfamous for his gigantic murals with gritty black-and-white animals, in a poetical contrast with the urban landscape. This one is located on the corner of the Hofstraat and Platformstraat in Ostend. The Crystal Ship festival last summer also featured other Belgian artists like Jaune, Smates, Locatelli, Isaac Cordal and Pol Cosmo, as well as several famous international artists. Curious about the whereabouts of other works? Take a look at the map on their website or you can even book a street art tour!



Matthew Dawn’s 'After all strangers again' in Ghent

The second place goes to this hauntingly beautiful, but sad and relatable mural at the Dampoort in Ghent. Matthew Dawn is known for bright, colourful pieces with a sense of realism that is not often associated with graffiti. You should definitely keep an eye out for his work, as this Belgian artist is constantly technically improving himself and taking on more and bigger projects as his reputation builds up. For example, this year he successfully launched his tiny pink stencil cap project on kickstarter and now he is on a roll. So, don’t be(come) a stranger and follow him on social media!




Lier, Belgium, 2016 with @joachimofficial for Lier Up #belgïe #streetart #graffiti #muralism #travel #murals #urbanart

Een foto die is geplaatst door •NILS• (@nilsrva) op

This mural in Lier by Joachim and Nils Westergard

To say the least, Joachim is one of those Belgian street artists that left their mark on 2016. All year around, he relentlessly produced new murals (mostly in and around Antwerp) and he even organized his own street art project in Lier. This particular work is located in the Wijngaardstraat, as one of the twelve murals from that project. Joachim teamed up with Nils Westergard, a street artist with Belgian roots who lives in the USA (Richmond, Virginia) and produces work all over the world. Their styles are completely different and it’s amazing how the contrast between them successfully creates two visually complementary sides of the same story.




666:) #dzia #dziakrank #streetart #graffiti #lineart #squirrel #hoeilaart #groenendaal #666

Een foto die is geplaatst door DZIA=KRANK (@dzia) op

Dzia’s nut-munching squirrel at Groenendaal station

Dzia Krank is a well-known and respected street artist from Antwerp. Recently, he even designed the art on the album sleeve and on the record of 'The Gold Play' by Tangram records (featured on Chase here). His depicted animals are dynamically and almost organically composed of fragmented graphic lines combined with fresh colour choices. Actually, Dzia’s mammoths were the most popular on Instagram, but since their locations are a secret: the next best thing is this cute squirrel at the station of Groenendaal. At the same location, he also painted a fox ‘jumping for joy’, a bunny who’s ‘running for it’, a beautiful blue bird and a golden buzzard. So keep your eyes open when you’re passing through there!



Collab by PSO man and Solo Cink that popped up in Liège in November

Liège-based street artist PSO man worked together with Solo Cink at 'le hangar'. This skilled calligraffiti artist from Brussels reinterprets gothic letters, transforming them into the building blocks of geometric and colourful works that almost look like mandalas. An abstract context for PSO man's figures, which are always influenced by the foreign worlds he encounters on his travels. The boy is depicted with minimalistic traits, sitting in a toad-like position, and seems mesmerized by something 'offscreen' that is invisible to us. All of this while the alligator behind him seems suspiciously relaxed. Both artists welcome us into an experimental universe, where imagination and poetry go hand in hand.



'Pigeons of Decay' by Smok & Mark Gmehling for Kroonjuwelen in Deurne

Antwerp-based street artist Smok has a true talent for making lively photorealistic murals of animals. In every piece the focus is on only one animal that is magnified, taken from its environment and placed in a whole-coloured vacuum. For this particular piece for Kroonjuwelen at the sportsclub ‘Klimzaal Wallstreet’ in Deurne, Smok teamed up with the German Mark Gmehling. The symbolical meaning of the work is about society’s high expectations. Obviously, pigeons don't need to worry about those things and can just roam (and poop) freely. So we're guessing, in the end, there will be nothing left but the ruins of our fat hands with broken index fingers and colourful poop all over them?




The traveller always shines brighter in the sun #asquidcalledsebastian @kapowisnow

Een foto die is geplaatst door A squid called Sebastian (@asquidcalledsebastian) op

'The traveller always shines brighter in the sun' by A Squid Called Sebastian for Sorry Not Sorry in Ghent

Our own sunny traveller A Squid Called Sebastian was actually born in America, but are we happy that he moved to Belgium at a young age! These past months, he has been representing our country's street art talent in Mexico and Miami. Earlier this year he contributed this amazing wall at the Pierre de Geyterstraat to the “Sorry not sorry” festival by KAPOW in Ghent. Back in 2010 KAPOW started as a small festival, but it became the fundament for a new era of creative projects. “Sorry Not Sorry” is actually an all year round initiative consisting of murals, performances, artistic installations, music and a lot of ambience. If you want to see which other pieces were created for the festival, check out the convenient map on their website!



'All children have a right to social security' by BIRD in Deurne

BIRD a.k.a. Bram De Ceurt is an amateur photograher, who has a knack for bringing a sort of poetic fragility into socio-politically inspired murals. This one was painted in the summer at the Jos van Geenlaan in Deurne. Its title comes from the universal rights of the child, always a painfully relevant subject. Christmas and New Year are times for celebration, but the wars waging around the world don’t stop destroying their worlds, leaving them vulnerable and often forcing them to act grownup already at an early age. Even in seemingly normal households a lot of children are not sufficiently protected. It's about time we all reinforce these universal rights to protect our future generations! The artist promised that 2017 will bring more of these socially motivated works.




Huge rat by Cee Pil #ceepil #globalstreetart #rat #mural #belgium

Een foto die is geplaatst door GlobalStreetArt #WallsProject (@globalstreetart) op

Ceepil’s distorted animals at the Grindbakken in Ghent

When in Ghent, you should certainly pay a visit to the Grindbakken (concrete gravel traps that the city built alongside Dok Noord after World War II). It's a true mecca for graffiti and street art, and there is always some exciting new work. The Ghent-based Ceepil is known for his colourful murals depicting animals and is going strong lately. As you may have noticed, quite a lot of street artists work around animals. Not only because it is such a visually rich subject, but also to bring back more nature in the urban sphere. Horses, rats, cats and even penguins are partly opened up by this artist. It shows some kind of inner wheelwork, as if they are robots. Meanwhile the image as a whole is fragmented and our view is distorted with colourful lines. It's almost as if someone went crazy on a photograph using photoshop to see how far he could take it.

A while back Ceepil painted three colourful jellyfish against a deep black background, which was an interesting exception and the work didn’t cease to amaze the public worldwide. We wanted to include this work in our list, but only twelve hours later the work vanished! The mural was located at the Werregarenstraat, another well-known place in Ghent where graffiti and street art are condoned and even encouraged. However, its view constantly changes as a consequence of street art's impermanent and spontaneous nature. When in town, you should definitely pay a visit to these two hotspots! 


Mr. Mong and Derm Badtaste for Meeting of Styles 2016 in Antwerp

As an international network of graffiti artists and supporters, Meeting of Styles organises events in over sixteen countries to promote and legitimize the art form. In August 2016 more than 120 artists were invited for the event at the Zomerfabriek in Antwerp. As part of the Kapow team in Ghent city, Mr. Mong is an illustrator at heart who enjoys bringing his talent to the streets. His favourite subjects are monkeys and girls with a pinch of rock ‘n’ roll, often in an humoristic way, while Derm as a member of his own “Bad Taste crew”, is obsessed with old machinery and touches less pleasant subjects like pollution and war. The two artists have teamed up together before, but this piece truly marks a peak in their teamwork thanks to their styles blending seamlessly. We felt like this amazing wall by Mr. Mong and Derm Badtaste for the Meeting Of Styles edition in Antwerp this year is oddly underrated, so we decided to include it in our top 10!


Even far beyond our borders, our Belgian street artists have been proving time and time again that #belgiansdoitbetter. But that’s material for a next list, so stay tuned!



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