The ultimate guide to Israel's urban art scene
Street art in Israel is a powerful medium that is used to encourage action, comment on politics and to adorn the space. If this is your jam, visit Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem, Florentin in Tel Aviv (start in Cordovero street), the port area of Haifa, and the -430 gallery next to the Dead Sea.
When I find myself in a new city, I can't help but notice the fresh sounds of visual design. Stickers, posters, billboards and street art all contribute the creative urban chaos. Cities across Israel host brilliant graffiti (meaning 'to scratch' in Italian) created using a variety of techniques and each with a story to tell.
One of the most recognizable works in Tel Aviv is The Band Aid by Dede. His identity is unknown but we do know that he is an art school graduate and works both free hand and using stencils. His works are usually critical and speak of waste and litter. It's not unusual to see mutated animals or creatures that are made of garbage.
In the past couple of years Dede's works can be seen in close proximity to the works of Nitzan Mintz, a street poet that uses her own name. Although the 1977 law forbids street art, in recent years artists have not been persecuted even when their identity is known, such as with Nitzan. As a young heartbroken soldier, Nitzan took to the streets with her one line poetry. Years later, she and Dede met and coupled up artistically and romantically.
Elna and Gab are a duo known as 'Brothers of Light' who started their career in Jerusalem, a city that is a bit harsh for street art as most walls are covered in Limestone. They work mostly with paint and brushes and create fantastical beings that wander around the streets of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
Salomon Souza started his career on the streets of the Nachlaot neighborhood in Jerusalem. Today his art can be seen throughout the country. The British-born artist is known for his unique use of color. He is known for painting portraits on the closed stalls of Mahane Yehuda market as part of "The Shuk Gallery" Project. Read about our top 10 free things to do in Jerusalem.
Broken Fingaz are group of 4 artists who are originally from Haifa and now have works of urban art all over the world. They mostly create large scale murals that make witty and intelligent commentary on history and current events.
Tag is an Armenian Israeli artist who works almost exclusively with paste ups. He uses old imagery, mostly paintings from the Renaissance and 19th century as a canvas on which he raises modern day topics
Yonatan Kiss-lev is a personal favorite. As an artist he puts a fascinating twist on known imagery creating pieces with a new interpretation. He splits his time between galleries, his studio, and the streets.
Another favorite of mine is MissK. Once when clubbing in south Tel Aviv and in search of a bathroom, I stumbled into her studio on the second floor of the club. MissK merges art, graffiti and pop culture to create surreal portraits with pop song lyrics written on them in Hebrew letters. For the Hebrew reader this can be a disorienting experience as at first glance the Hebrew letters don't make any legible words and seem like Yiddish.
A trip to the region will not be complete without a taste of the international street artists, the most famous among them being the legendary Banksy. The famed "Walled off Hotel" in Bethlehem is situated right next to the separation wall and is filled with Banksy's art. Another famous duo you may recognize is the New York based Faile who features some works on the walls of Tel Aviv. As well the Mexican artist Libre Hem left some portraits in Israel before leaving the region. Read more about How to plan your visit to Israel and the West Bank.
Check out other artists such as: minks, Ame72, Klone, know Hope, Dioz, Dan grover, ID, Murielle and Kobi Vogman.
About the writer, Anna Kreynin
Anna is a licensed tour guide, an artist, a french fry eater, a dog petter and above all a storyteller. She is in love with Jerusalem and she can tell you all about it.