Lauded in some quarters as the most spectacular mural that Warsaw has ever seen, a work by the Welsh street artist Phlegm has captivated the public after debuting on Stalowa 27 earlier in November.
Taking 120-hours to execute, the XL project has been made all the more remarkable by its back story – arriving to the Polish capital, the secretive artist had initially intended to paint something entirely different but was prompted to change his mind after coming face-to-face with the wall in question.
Pondering his canvas, the acclaimed artist instead chose to abandon his original idea and revert instead to another work that was still in progress.
Classing it as his most complex work to date, the artist used Instagram to jokingly admit that the piece had nearly killed him. Working from dawn till dusk, his labors, however, have yielded widespread approval.
Featuring two principal characters, the absorbing mural is riddled with fantastical details stacked onto each other. Complex and mystifying, the intricate masterpiece is almost Kafka-esque in its vision depicting as it does downtrodden minions tugging wheels and pulleys, smoking chimney stacks, spiralling stairwells and planets and stars hanging by threads from mechanical platforms.
Featuring also a host of bewildered creatures, ‘Civilization’ as it has been titled is dark, dream-like and gloriously powerful. Implemented as part of the latest installment of the Street Art Doping festival, it marks a triumphant return for Phlegm – previously visiting Warsaw in 2013, that time the artist painted ‘Castle’, a mural so loved by locals that a committee was formed to save it when it was announced that the building it adorned would be demolished.
Sadly, it fell victim to the wrecking ball in 2016, and only now can residents again admire the outrageous talent of this maverick artist. Bearing shades of Hieronymus Bosch, the work has also again cast a spotlight on Praga and affirmed its reputation as the cradle of Warsaw street art.