Kruella d’Enfer and AKACORLEONE are two of the hottest names in Portuguese street art. At their studio, they reveal why Lisbon has become a magnet for street art – and how our own smart forfour inspired their latest work.
The following interview with Kruella d’Enfer and AKACORLEONE marks the second time we meet these two talents. Our first encounter involved turning a smart forfour into mobile street art fueled by a wealth of wild ideas, bold colors, and mysterious symbols. This time around, they put down their spray cans to tell us all about the mysticism behind the Lisbon street art scene.
Kruella and AKACORLEONE – while driving around Lisbon, one is struck by the sheer wealth of murals and street art to be found on every corner. Is Lisbon a mecca for street art?
Kruella: Yes. There’s a really good energy and scene here right now. There are lots of Portuguese and international street artists who come here to paint murals. It gives the city a completely different energy. A lot of people are starting to take an interest in street art, so it’s all very positive.
So what’s the reason behind this trend?
Kruella: First of all, the city of Lisbon officially promotes street artists and the creation of murals. Secondly, there are also many galleries inviting international artists to come over and paint murals. That creates a lot of momentum.
AKACORLEONE: There is also a negative reason for this trend: Lisbon has lots of once splendid but now abandoned buildings, even in prime locations. These used to be gray and depressing, but now many of them have received a splash of paint. The result is a really unique mix of heritage architecture and street art.
How does the ubiquitous street art affect the atmosphere in the city?
Kruella: It changes the way people think. Some used to consider it vandalism, but once they saw an artist painting a huge mural, they realized how much work it involves. So, now they understand that murals are not just random graffiti on the wall. And people enjoy a sense of ownership. The murals become part of their neighborhood; they want to protect them. I think street art makes people happy.
There also seems to be a very special light here …
AKACORLEONE: Yes, Lisbon has a very distinctive light. The white stone dominating many parts of the city reflects the sun and lightens everything up. Maybe it’s also because of the river or the sea, but it’s definitely part of Lisbon’s charm and a reason why artists come here to paint.
AKACORLEONE may have graduated from graffiti to murals and street art, but his style is still loud, chaotic, and in your face. Kruella d’Enfer, on the other hand, loves to lose herself in mystical and mysterious spheres, no matter the scale of her work. Both share a love for an almost tropical burst of colors. Together, they inspire and feed off each other.
So, AKACORLEONE: Would you say that murals are a more premium version of graffiti?
AKACORLEONE: No, not at all. It kind of annoys me when graffiti and street art get mixed up. Graffiti is supposed to be illegal, a rebel activity – and not something that people love and want to have in their homes. It’s supposed to be for a closed community. Street art or muralism, on the other hand, is open to all. It’s about the interaction between the artists and the people around them. So it’s not a question of what’s better or more advanced – they are simply different and complement each other. To me, a city without graffiti and street art is a sad and boring city: It should always have both. Not everything should be beautiful and clean – it’s good when you can do whatever you want.
Where do murals or street art excel over other art forms? Where are they the better form of expression?
AKACORLEONE: With street art and murals, the sheer scale is what hits you first. No matter if it’s good or bad – it has a huge impact. You have an opportunity to interact with others – they stop, look, and voice their opinions. They want to know who you are, what you have done before. And street art also inspires people to explore a city. People come here and travel all around the city just to see the murals. Cities become galleries, open for everyone to see. That’s a great way to discover a city.
When you painted our car, what was the idea you had in mind?
Kruella: I used many colors and elements from my own mural painting style. I used geometric shapes and matt paint to contrast the car’s shiny surface. The main motif on the driver’s side of the car is a girl surrounded by lots of elements. She’s just driving around exploring the city, just like me, just like you …
And then she ends on a huge “Yeah!”, which is something you wrote on the right hand side of the car?
Kruella: (laughs) Yes. What else would you say about this city?
Did the process of painting a car differ from painting a wall?
Kruella: Yes, but as I’m always looking for new ways to express my art, I was especially intrigued by that. But the new approach is still street art, only that it’s moving now.
What exactly was different?
I’ve never worked with this type of paint, a chalk spray, before. It was definitely a challenge, because color sticks differently to a smooth car finish than to a rough wall. And I improvised a bit because when I’m painting, I tend to keep changing my mind, but it all came out fine in the end. Working with AKACORLEONE, who provided many ideas and worked on a lot of details, was also great again. So it was an exhausting, but lovely day.
Kruella d’Enfer and AKACORLEONE are artists and illustrators from Lisbon, Portugal.
Watch our video “One fine day in Lisbon” featuring Kruella d’Enfer and AKACORLEONE, pro inline skater Rodrigo Braz Teixeira, and Mariana Duarte Silva, entrepreneur and co-founder of Village Underground Lisboa.
All images incl. header image: broken bloke Production