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Graffiti art decorates Turkey's capital in times of COVID-19 pandemic

(Xinhua)    10:50, February 04, 2021
Graffiti art decorates Turkey's capital in times of COVID-19 pandemic
People take photos with graffiti at a park in Ankara, Turkey on Feb. 2, 2021. Turkey's capital Ankara has been dubbed grayish, comparing with the colorful Istanbul, but graffiti artists are changing this stereotype perception, bringing colors to parks in times of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Mustafa Kaya/Xinhua)

ANKARA, Feb. 3 (Xinhua) -- Turkey's capital Ankara has been dubbed grayish, comparing with the colorful Istanbul, but graffiti artists are changing this stereotype perception, bringing colors to parks in times of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the heart of the buzzing administrative city lies the Botanical Park, a gathering place since the early 1970s located underneath the majestic Atakule Tower, one of the landmarks of the capital.

The park is one of the greenest and most peaceful areas in the city, and seems to have a new lease of life among young people with street artists allowed to decorate it with the help of the Ankara Metropolitan Municipality.

While many people are still indoors because of the coronavirus restrictions, several artists are using public parks as venues to expose their artwork and uplift dreary spirits.

"I love to use colors in my works and I wanted to do something different in this park. I always try my best when I'm painting, which is my passion," Atione, a street artist told Xinhua, during an interview.

"In the past, we were usually not welcomed to public places such as this one when we painted freestyle art works, but now we are commissioned to do our work. It's very satisfying," he remarked.

Atione created several 3D underwater themed art works in the park which has drawn much interest from the public.

"I have a degree in painting in a fine arts faculty from Izmir (Western Turkey). Painting is my job, Graffiti is my enthusiasm and I express myself through it," said the 33-year-old artist, famous for his works in several big cities.

Other parks and walls in Ankara were painted by him and other fellow artists in recent times, bringing them followers on social media where this once underground form of art has become mainstream here.

"We wanted to bring the sea to Ankara. The idea was to present something very colorful to passers-by and uplift their spirits in these difficult times, and I guess we made it, because we had very positive feedback," Atione explained.

A group of happily surprised passers-by warmly congratulated the artist as he was giving a touch-up with his spray cans to his works.

"We are following him on social media and appreciate his works. We are very glad that he came to paint in our park. We are lucky to have him," said a middle-aged lady before taking a selfie with him along with her walking companions.

Atione indicated that this was in fact the first stage of a greater project to transform the Botanic Park into a cultural habitat, a "living park", with interactive installations and games, paintings and statues.

The incentive for the project was given and commissioned by the Ankara Municipality and one of its officials told Xinhua that other parks will follow the example.

"In these coronavirus days, we wanted something colorful for our city and capital which has long been criticized of being gray," said Hasan Muhammet Guldas, head of the environmental protection department.

"People are fed up with staying indoors for such a long time because of this pandemic, at least here they could feel some relief and think they were at sea," he noted.

Guldas added that his office is also going to offer several murals across the city to aspiring artists in order to motivate them to express their feelings and uplift their moods during the prolonged lockdown.

Since last November, Turkey has imposed stricter measures such as night time and weekend lockdowns to curb the spread of the deadly virus.


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(Web editor: Meng Bin, Liang Jun)

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