Moscow: After a long winter, Russian graffiti artists have come out to change Moscow`s eternally grey urban landscape into something brighter even, if it is illegal.
Winter in Russia is a dead season for graffiti artists because the paint does not cover the surface properly and the artists risk freezing their fingers off.
"It is almost impossible to paint at one spot for a long time when it is one degree below freezing. The spray paint can turn very cold, regardless of the gloves you are wearing, and the paint starts leaking, blocking the aerosol nozzles," said Ivan, a graffiti artist.
Ivan said that in summer it is another case. Graffiti artists choose mainly "legal places" where nobody interferes with the process and so it is easier to concentrate on the sketch. One full-fledged graffiti piece can take up to several days to complete.
Graffiti, considered contemporary urban art all over the world, has become an official street decoration in Moscow after city authorities asked graffiti artists to revive the look of ugly industrial facilities.
Moscow`s graffiti subculture usually divides urban artists into writers and bombers. Writers are law-abiding creators choosing authorized sites for painting. They devotedly draw the details spending days and nights working on one piece of art.
Bombers, unlike writers, are the art extremists. They break the social norms by creating their graffiti in public places where the paintings can attract a lot of attention.
"As far as I know, only in Russia legal graffiti and bombing are separate. These are two different sides of street art. I know of some examples when an artist can be both a good writer and a bomber, but such cases are rare," Ivan said.
In Moscow, there are practically no authorized places for graffiti. Many law-abiding artists paint garages along railway tracks, and various building walls are particularly favoured by artists.
"In graffiti slang we have the expression for the `legal` spot - the Hall of Fame. We can call some abandoned buildings and construction areas halls of fame. When the place is abandoned, when there is nobody there, no police, and no passers-by, we can paint there. Though it is actually illegal," Ivan said.
He said Moscow authorities have a growing interest in graffiti. They do not go out into the streets with the spray paint; they just ask contemporary street artists to refresh some industrial objects. In 2009, graffiti appeared on the walls of boiler heating facilities, illustrating Russia`s landscapes, cartoon characters, pop idols and futuristic scenes.