Spanish artist shocks Berlin with 'bloody refugee' mural

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Spanish artist shocks Berlin with 'bloody refugee' mural
Photo: Christian Peters /Twitter

A Spanish artist has riled residents with his massive politically powerful mural daubed across an apartment building in Berlin.


The mural depicts a girl in a nightgown, bloodied from the head down and posed as if she were leaning against the building on which she is drawn, perhaps peering into the distance. Below her also appears to be a floor covered in blood.

Across from her in a forest is a naked, handcuffed body, pierced by arrows.

The work is that of Gonzalo Borondo, an artist born in the Spanish city of Valladolid who started getting serious about street art when he moved to Madrid at the age of 14 to attend the Academy of Fine Arts. He left his tags all around the city, using different materials like charcoal, oil and tempera.

His father was a restorer and he grew up around classical paintings, from which he draws his inspiration. He particularly loves Goya, whose dark influence is immediately apparent in his work. 

His latest piece is one of many larger-than-life painted political statements that add to Berlin’s charm as an avant-garde city, and which draw tourists each year to walking tours of its street art.

But the 42-metre-high mural on a wall in the Tegel neighbourhood of north Berlin has left residents feeling anything but charmed.



“It’s very, very frightening,” one mother of a five-year-old boy who attends a nearby Kindergarten told Berlin daily Tagesspiegel on Wednesday.

“The worst is the impaled man… There is so much suffering in the world, but you don’t have to also present it to us in such a big way.”

The mother isn’t alone: other residents in the neighbourhood have started to collect signatures to petition for the painting to be removed.

The mural is supposed to be related to the refugee crisis, according to a spokesman from the housing association Gewobag, which commissioned the art.

It is part of a series called Artpark Tegel which so far consists of five murals by the street art network Urban Nation.

There is also sensitivity to the graphic work because several people have killed themselves by jumping off the building next door, Felix Schönebeck, a spokesman for the neighbourhood initiative I Love Tegel told Tagesspiegel. 

Then there is the refugee home being planned for the area.

"There will be people living there who fled from wars and lived through horrible things. For this reason I also find the image inappropriate," said 26-year-old law student.

But the spokesman from Gewobag said the picture depicts hope as well as pain.

“The child sees a person who despite being hit with arrows can stand upright and is strong.”



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