Asalto Festival, Zaragoza Spain 2020

The Asalto Festival 16-27th September has just wrapped up its fifteenth edition in San José, Zaragoza. The Festival was a pioneer in introducing public art in Zaragoza and has brought art to different neighbourhoods over the years creating a huge art collection of more than 300 artists and works of art in just 15 years.

The murals reflect the past and present of the neighbourhood, with sensitivity to the environment and the community.

Artists invited to Asalto 2020 included; Akacorleone, Elbi Elem, Isaac Cordal, Karto Gimeno, Lida Cao, Marta Lapeña, Slim Safont, Anna Taratiel, Sawu Studio, Aheneah and Diego Vicente.

Akacorleone’s mural ‘ILUSIÓN’ is a set of vibrant colours halfway between abstraction and figuration. With this work, the Portuguese artist wants to defend the life and flourishing of the human being after experiencing difficult situations. As he said, “my idea was to create something that symbolised the calm after the storm, something beautiful that can emerge from dark times”. Painted with the spray technique, the refined shapes that we appreciate in this work also lead us to an oneiric world.

The artist Elbi Elem has explored every corner of the area of Zaragoza where the Festival Asalto has been held to continue on her path of artistic research. Elbi Elem has used the possibilities of water and reflection to create installations that lead us to recognize the duality between balance and movement or the constant change in which we find ourselves.

The small figures that Isaac Cordal has placed in different parts of the San José neighbourhood are part of his series, called Cement Eclipses. With this game to which he invites us – we have to look for the works – he wants to draw attention to our behaviour as a mass and the effects of the evolution of society. Isaac Cordal presents this intervention to us as a game and as a surprise, each encounter with one of the figures makes us wonder and question who we are.

The artist Karto Gimeno makes his first foray into public art at the Asalto Festival and he did so by transferring his characteristic style to the large format: photography and almost scenographic installation.Karto Gimeno wanted to bring to the people some characteristic buildings that surround the neighbourhood where Festival Asalto took place this year: abandoned and invaded by vegetation and humidity houses. Three large photographs located on the facades of the buildings become three new windows from which to look and recognize the past of an area that has forgotten its agricultural past. Karto Gimeno’s work is also developed in three dimensions with small scenographies in which all the elements are meticulously constructed. These almost surreal scenes have common elements such as black and white and isolated objects and protagonists. For the Asalto festival, Karto Gimeno takes part of his work to large dimensions; a large post crowned by a chair will surprise all the people who pass through the Sergio Algora garden.

The artist Lidia Cao gives us in a large mural, those hugs that we have been missing in recent months. With great sensitivity to capture moments in all her works, Lidia Cao makes this gift to the neighbourhood. As the artist says “A hug. An act as simple as it is difficult. We have seen how a world, in the blink of an eye, has become something completely distant.” This is a hug of joy or comfort but always comforting and that has already become a symbol for all the people who see it every day in its wake.

In a large mural of five panels, the artist Marta Lapeña remembers the everyday life of the San José neighbourhood of Zaragoza with some of the elements that represent its past: glass, ceramics, wheat and barley or the thread with which industrial tarpaulins were manufactured. The 50s and 60s saw the birth of a neighbourhood that was born around the industry and now the artist wants to take us to that simplicity of workers’ homes with a figurative mural in which color takes us from one scene to another.

With the challenge of transform into a new space a degraded -although widely used- square, the Sawu Studio team has built an ephemeral installation that claims play and meeting spaces for people. A large circle symbolizes that circle or safe space in which dialogue arises and which also protects the little ones. The effect of light on wood turns four colours into an infinite palette that changes with the sun and the movement of those around it. With this installation, Sawu has managed to point out the need to humanize public spaces and respect them and has responded to the more than 300 surveys with which the neighbourhood expressed its wishes towards the “nameless square”, the place where locate this facility.

After meeting the neighbours of the building in which he was going to make his mural and walking the streets of the neighbourhood capturing his life, the artist Slim Safont noticed a scene as every day as it was loaded with a message; a slogan on a young girl’s shirt and a nursery in the background remind us of the future that lies ahead. And he does it with that technical skill that characterizes his work: almost photographic paintings that acquire texture as we get closer.

Diego Vicente’s mural ‘Offering’ is a present or service in token of gratitude or love. It is an exercise in composition and colour through an object, with the intention of arriving at an image that leads to reflection. In this case, the flowers, in addition to serving as an object to build the image, also serve as a symbol. It can symbolise the actions carried out by people for the neighbourhood or it can be read as the gift that the neighbourhood offers them in return to show their appreciation.

“From my point of view, every day is an opportunity to take a position in life. You decide the attitude with which you go out and relate to the environment. In this increasingly tense and divided society, you decide where you want to push. There are those who go out into the street, say good morning, talk, smile and offer you the best of him/her, and there are those who prefer to be pissed off all day and spread their hatred towards life. When I learned that I would have the opportunity to paint in this small park in the San José neighbourhood, I had the opportunity to take a stand. And my decision was to present myself with these flowers.” Diego Vicente

Diego Vicente was assisted with his mural by friend Jorges Ofiochoa.

Portuguese artist AENHEAH has woven in a mural the image of a woman face, touched by a ray of sunlight. The protagonist is a neighbour from Zaragoza whose photograph hung in an old bar. Aheneah has pixelated the image and, with the help of numerous voluntary hands, has led to a large wall made in a technique that simulates cross stitch.

Photo credit Asalto Festival

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