Street Art Gallery on the Road to Sparta

Being pleasantly surprised, is one of the most appealing aspects of travelling. A chance encounter in an alien culture or with exotic wildlife, unexpectedly discovering a shrine or maybe stumbling headlong into a full-blown carnival. This is the kind of travel serendipity which can change a mundane trip into one filled with memories, which last a lifetime. Finding a 3 kilometre street art gallery on the Kalamata to Sparta road in Greece qualifies as a welcome surprise for me.

Street art gallery by Kostas Louzis aka Skitsofrenis on the Sparta to Kalamarta road in the Peloponnese, Greece on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-46

The Dark Knight rises

I was visiting the Peloponnese, driving the main road from Sparta to Kalamata. Having just reached the top of a steeply winding mountain road, I was looking forward to reaching my eventual destination of Kardamili soon, only anticipating some great views of the ocean to make the drive more pleasant.

Street art gallery by Kostas Louzis aka Skitsofrenis on the Sparta to Kalamarta road in the Peloponnese, Greece on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-45

Faces

Street art gallery by Kostas Louzis aka Skitsofrenis on the Sparta to Kalamarta road in the Peloponnese, Greece on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-6

The Howling

Discovering nearly 2 miles of colourful and graphic graffiti decorating the retaining wall along the road distracted me enough to park up, walk the length of the surprise art gallery, and grab some photographs. There is a mixture of dark, almost macabre images, alongside more vibrant and colourful murals, with ecological quotations and messages liberally daubed between them.

The images are the work of one talented artist, Kostas Louzis aka “Skitsofrenis”, skitso meaning sketch in Greek. Kostas is an artist with a message, he’s been displaying his art here since 2008, his work communicates messages of ecology and warnings for society.

Street art gallery by Kostas Louzis aka Skitsofrenis on the Sparta to Kalamarta road in the Peloponnese, Greece on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-56

A drive through art gallery

The murals have a definite theme; they portray a struggling planet, a world in pain, with scenes of pollution and burning forests. The Dark Knight is a character repeated regularly, however there are also messages of hope. They feature brightly hued flowers, children planting trees, displaying an interaction between innocence and malevolence.

Street art gallery by Kostas Louzis aka Skitsofrenis on the Sparta to Kalamarta road in the Peloponnese, Greece on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-53

V for Vengeance no R for Recycle

Street art gallery by Kostas Louzis aka Skitsofrenis on the Sparta to Kalamarta road in the Peloponnese, Greece on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-39

Writings on the wall

The project is of course sponsored, Kostas didn’t just decide to drive up here one day with his spray paint cans and randomly start leaving his very personal mark on the roadside. This canvas is provided with backing from a Greek-American foundation called “Plant Your Roots”, who have a stated philosophy:

“to combine the ancient values of respect for nature with the Olympic ideal of volunteerism. We promote the spirit of reconciliation and coexistence between humans and our natural environment.”

Street art gallery by Kostas Louzis aka Skitsofrenis on the Sparta to Kalamarta road in the Peloponnese, Greece on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-43

Fabulous faces

Those are worthy goals and this roadside street art is a great way of highlighting it. Unsurprisingly it’s not all been plain sailing, Vandals ruined Kostas early art, and he had to patiently restore them several times. Even now some of the written messages are probably not all the prose of the artist. Written in a mixture of Greek and English some are less poetic or insightful than his own. He is now beginning to gain recognition, securing commissions and has even featured within the pages of the German magazine Stern and Reuters news agency.

Street art gallery by Kostas Louzis aka Skitsofrenis on the Sparta to Kalamarta road in the Peloponnese, Greece on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-47

Making a connection

Street art gallery by Kostas Louzis aka Skitsofrenis on the Sparta to Kalamarta road in the Peloponnese, Greece on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-43

Flowerpower

The road is not the busiest, but still provides a suitable canvas, allowing plenty of admirers the opportunity to view it. I was still passed by several dozen vehicles travelling in both directions during my stroll along the wall. I wondered how many actually paused to enjoy the unexpected art gallery, whether it distracted the drivers or disturbed their passengers uninterrupted views of Kalamata and the coast.

Street art gallery by Kostas Louzis aka Skitsofrenis on the Sparta to Kalamarta road in the Peloponnese, Greece on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-52

The Big Three

Street art gallery by Kostas Louzis aka Skitsofrenis on the Sparta to Kalamarta road in the Peloponnese, Greece on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-49

A little pop tv connection

It was of little significance; it distracted me enough to spend nearly an hour walking along the road, admiring and taking pictures of this street art gallery. The short road trip around the Peloponnese was proving a joy, surprises like this were part of the reason.

Street art gallery by Kostas Louzis aka Skitsofrenis on the Sparta to Kalamarta road in the Peloponnese, Greece on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-51

Highway to Heaven

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Comments 18

  1. Jonny Duncan

    Beautiful. I love running into random street art. One of my favourite cities for street art was valparaiso in chile. It really brings colour to a place. And its great when you have no idea it will be there!

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      Iain

      I agree Jonny, street art is amazing and coming across it unexpectedly makes it even more special. I’ll have tp have a look at Valparaiso one day, though of course the street art won’t be a surprise now 😉

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      Iain

      I’m glad you like it. I think it’s quite simple, if it enhances a place, looking better than a brick wall and you like it then it’s street art.

  2. fred mucai

    I have never seen Street Art Gallery that is this extensive. It only goes to show how innovative people can be. Their seems to be no limit to the number of pleasant surprises when one travels

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      Iain

      Absolutely Fred, it is an amazing gallery right along the roadside of a major Greek highway. Innovation and creativity is all around us and we just have to find and appreciate it.

  3. Ryan

    What freakin’ awesome street art! An amazing way to convey a message and schnazzy up a grey plain retaining wall. More cities (mainly the US!) should allow more of this. And also the fact that you were driving from Sparta…epic!

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      Iain

      totally agree Ryan, and couldn’t say it any better. I think the 300 would approve of this highly creative stretch of road.

  4. Rachel

    There’s nothing more lovelier than passing thru an colorful, artful walls.. and these are pretty hardcore, I don’t see much of these. Seeing these in person would be of great satisfactory.

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      Iain

      It was amazing to witness this stretch of road Rachel, a talented man that cares for our environment and is doing something about it.

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