Under Pressure festival 2019

The 24th edition of the Montreal urban Under Pressure festival took place this past weekend. And was once again the place to be in the city. Its incredible display of live graffiti gave residents a reason to get out and enjoy the sun. Watching, as the art unfolded before their very eyes.

An artists sits upon a scaffolding, preparing to paint // Photo : Kieron Yates
An artists sits upon a scaffolding, preparing to paint // Photo : Kieron Yates

As is this case every summer, Under Pressure brings together a collection of artists from around the world. To decorate the walls around of the cities most famous bars – the Foufounes Electrique. The Fouf, as it is nicknamed, is Montreal’s answer to New York’s CBGB’s, and has been at the heart of the cities live music world for four decades. It houses art installations year round and the list of musicians that have played the venue is astounding. It makes perfect sense for this to also be the center of an urban art festival.

As well as graffiti artists, Under Pressure also showcases live music. Break dancing and skateboarding. Pop-up shops offering everything from new shoes, clothing and artwork for your walls. All of it, without a cover charge. The largest and longest running festival of its kind in North America, Under Pressure is as iconic as the Fouf itself.

See also : Under Pressure festival 2016

This year, the rooftop section of the festival wasn’t happening. The building had been sold, and the new owner wasn’t as co-operative as its predecessor. This meant that the DJ booth that normally sat atop of the roof, also was a no go. A highlight of years passed stripped away. That is the way the cookie crumbles though. Live music was still available from several locations, however. The beats were still drumming out across the airwaves, as the paint cans were still spraying color over old walls.

None the less, this fine collection of artists did what they do best. Leave their mark. And once the clouds of paint fumes had subsided, the streets and back alleys on Montreal’s downtown core wore a fresh coat of paint. A new set of expressions and something for the cities residents and tourists alike to gander at. People can out of respect for the arts on display. They came out of curiosity. Some came because they were in the area and were attracted by the sweet stench of paint fumes. All that came had a great time.

Since 1996, the Under Pressure festival has been legally decorating the walls of Montreal. And in that time, the levels of artistry have grown by leaps and bounds. Much of the pieces that are left to be viewed are stunning. Awe inspiring – and inspiration to the next generation of graffiti artist. Even the local police that patrolled the scene could be found enjoying the artistry. Under Pressure and urban arts such as graffiti have come a long, long way.

These pieces of art will remain up until next year’s festival rolls around and swallows them all up again. Preparing the walls for fresh paint and ideas.


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