Background

The city of Tel Aviv conjures up a variety of different meanings for a variety of different people. My mind instantly goes to the extravagant displays of graffiti. One of the most defining characteristics of a city, in my opinion, is in its street art. I was privileged to have lived in Israel’s economic and cultural center for more than 10 months, and I had a chance to explore Tel Aviv’s many walls on its many winding streets and avenues. With each picture and color comes a story, that when compiled together, tells a much larger tale about a city, a country, and a people.

Optimism

Graffiti is often rooted in controversy. Not only is the act alone illegal, but it more than frequently is used for political statements, satire, and societal criticisms. While this type of graffiti does indeed exist in Tel Aviv, there's an overwhelming amount of optimism in much of the graffiti. Themes of love, hope and inspiring individuality can be seen most commonly, and are also words that appropriately identify the personality that is Tel Aviv.

Jewish & Israeli Pride

Tel Aviv was recently voted as Lonely Planet's 3rd "hottest city in the world." It attracts more than 2.5 million visitors from around the world annually, and was named by National Geographic as one of the top ten beach cities in the world. Not to mention the immigration that occurs to Tel Aviv from within Israel itself. With all this traffic to Tel Aviv, artists express their prides for Judaism, history, and the city. Here are some examples of that expression, seen everywhere from the back alleys of the shuk to the much more public walls on Alenbi St.

Gilad Shalit

Graffiti is a voice, and in 2009–2010 (the time of these photographs), Gilad Shalit was not yet released. For as many years as Gilad was under Hamas captivity, artists have been voicing their opinions about his release. October 18 marks the anniversary of his release, and in Gilad's honor, here's to the support from Tel Aviv. (Read Gilad's piece from Rosh Hashanah titled "Starting Over")

      

Just Plain Awesome

The following works of graffiti don't necessarily fit into a category or contain a message (that I can decipher). But their colors, detail and ability to accentuate a wall make them worth sharing and also look great in a frame!

Artwork in Action

On a very cold evening in 2010, I met two graffiti artists under a billboard in the back of a parking lot in Tel Aviv. They told me that I could video record their work, but couldn't publish their faces or names. I gladly complied. Below is a link to a sped up version (3x the original) of the graffiti artists in action. The artwork took them three nights to complete, and this was the final night.