The art scene in Montreal is so vivacious that it spills out onto the streets. All around the city there are beautiful murals and graffiti of varying sizes, depicting everything from rainbow colored animals to black and white portraits. These sprayed-on masterpieces are scattered about like gems, tucked away into alleyways or perched high along rooftops. Tagging is a popular phenomenon in Montreal just as any other urban centre but it has become so concentrated that some street artists have risen above the slew of generic misshaped letters to create true works of art.
Graffiti art is more subjective than any other art form primarily because its origins lie in vandalism. Tagging is usually nothing more than somebody indulging their vanity by defacing a building with their name. Common graffiti isn’t very sophisticated but in Montreal it has really definitely reached new heights. Some of the street artists have even been commissioned to create these pieces, such as the expansive black and white mural at the loading dock of the Théâtre ESPACE GO on Saint-Laurent Boulevard. The mural was created by a group of artists called En Masse.
The Mont-Royal Plateau neighbourhood, specifically between Saint-Laurent and Saint-Dennis, has a very high concentration of graffiti. Just taking a stroll around the area is like going to an art gallery exhibition. This area is known not only for its historic buildings and churches but also for its arts and food scene. There are tons of chic bars, trendy little cafes and restaurants and many unique and quirky shops. It is not surprising then that this borough has such a wide diversity of graffiti art as it really does suit its character.
Some of my clearest memories of Montreal are of wandering home from a bar with friends and being surprised when turning a corner and coming face to face with some psychedelic graffiti that looked like it was painted straight out of a dream. I remember wandering through Chinatown and walking past a soup restaurant to find that their back wall had been covered by a mural of the four seasons. Just beside the Palais de Congres in the Old Port, not too far from the Notre Dame Basilica, there is a giant graffiti painting of a train in the metro, towering over the rushing cars of the highway below. The entire city is one huge canvas of bold and beautiful street art.