Graffiti Art Graces Sofia’s Classic Trams

06.06.2014 § 2 Comments


trams7As a resident of Toronto, I have been closely following the ordering, testing and politics surrounding the fleet of new low-floor, double-capacity TTC streetcars. Across the Atlantic, where full-fledged streetcar networks are far more common, the Bulgarian capital Sofia is in the process of replacing some of its classic (i.e., aging) streetcars (also known as trams or трамваи/tramvai in Bulgarian) with Polish-built articulated units. Back in January, the first one was symbolically put into exploitation to mark the 114-year anniversary of the opening of the first Sofia tram line.

A new tram next to a classic Sofia tram. Photo Credit: Yuliana Nikolova / Sofia Photo Agency

A new tram next to a classic Sofia tram. Photo Credit: Yuliana Nikolova / Sofia Photo Agency

However, as exciting as the new trams are, I was delighted to discover another interesting development. In tune with its bid for European Capital of Culture (for which it competes with three other Bulgarian cities: Veliko Tarnovo, Plovdiv and Varna), Sofia has initiated a brilliant public art project. On June 1, 2014, as part of the city’s youth art festival ZONA CULTURA, a dozen of the current system’s yellow-and-white trams were painted by various graffiti artists before returning to circulation. This is a welcome change of pace, as it gives graffiti artists a very daring showcase, instead of whitewashing their works on sight. It also reserves for art visual space that is all too often (khm-khm, Toronto) used for advertising decals. had some details on the artists:

The graffiti artists earmarked for this project are JRMN & Yeto (140 Ideas), XPOME, Jasir, Sten, Arsek & Erase (4+). The works of 140 Ideas are laden with surrealist imagery and elements from nature, often in commentary on various social or humanistic issues. XPOME is one of the most technically adept and creative artists in Bulgaria, with a very particular outlook on graffiti art. Jasir is a classic graffiti artist, who effortlessly manipulates forms and colours in his tags. Sten is a 3D veteran, defying the notion of flatness in his works. 4+’s style is more illustrative, and their works demonstrate creativity and novelty.

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The photos here are exerts from Mihail Mihailov’s photo set. Click here to see the full gallery, and check out his work here.

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