Address: Plaça d'Isidre Nonell
One of the things I first noticed when I landed in Barcelona was just how bright and colourful the streets are. Take a short stroll around Barcelona and you’ll soon realise that art is literally everywhere in this vibrant and ever changing city.
Modernist buildings tower above the streets like gargantuan art sculptures, world-class galleries and exhibitions can be found in almost every neighbourhood, and there’s all sorts of world-class street art to seek out. In fact I spend quite a bit of time cycling around the city in search of the “murs lliures” (legal walls or free walls), where local street artists are encouraged by the council to express themselves and practise their skills. You can even have a go yourself if you fancy it.
UNESCO was inspired by this, and named April 23rd as the International Day of Books.
In fact, I’m a little bit embarrassed to admit that it took me a couple of years to discover this vibrant and fascinating piece of art, even though it’s located right in the heart of Barcelona’s iconic Gothic Quarter. And as well as being inspiringly beautiful, it’s the story behind it that makes it my favourite piece of street art in Barcelona.
Joan Fontcuberta’s concept was based on the simple but beautiful idea that, “The World Begins With Every Kiss”. Located in Isidre Nonell Square, very close to the cathedral and right next to the College of Architects, this gargantuan mural installation measures in at a whopping 8m x 3.8m!
Like many others, when I first saw the mural I thought it was a giant piece of spray painted graffiti. The colourful image portrays two mouths kissing, hence the name, “Kiss of Freedom”. But when I got up close to the mural I realised that it was in fact a photomosaic mural, a mural made from thousands of little ceramic tiles, each printed with a unique photo.
The photos were sourced by the local newspaper, El Periodico, which asked its readers to send in photos of themselves and loved ones enjoying “a moment of freedom”. The resulting mural was installed in 2014 as part of Barcelona’s Tricentenary celebrations commemorating the fall of Barcelona during The War of The Spanish Succession. It’s incredible and wonderful to me that the city is so progressive that it celebrates and commemorates such important events with street art, which in many countries is deemed to be little more than a criminal activity.
Don’t miss the plaque on the wall next to the piece of art, which quotes poet Oliver Wendell Holmes: “The sound of a kiss is not as loud as that of a canon, but its echo lasts a great deal longer.”