Andrei Oltean about the Street Art Festival in Sibiu

Andrei Oltean about the Street Art Festival in Sibiu

One of the fine people of Sibiu is Andrei Oltean, the director of the International Street Art Festival hosted in recent years in Sibiu. He answered some questions regarding art, the festival, the street art tour and other interesting things.

1. Hello, Andrei. We met today to talk about the street art festival that brings color to Sibiu. First of all, what is this street art?
Hello, New Concept Living. Well, let's start with the beginning and I will tell you a few things about what street art means. The form of expression through drawings began in antiquity. We refer here to paintings, cave sculptures, marked caves. Later, this art took on millions of forms.
For example, the US-mafia in New York used street art to delimit areas, to mark its territory. Both text and symbols were used.
In Romania there was a young movement in the 1980s, and later during the „Jos Ceaușescu”-movement. This was the first manifestation of street art, it was strong and was represented by repeated episodes of vandalism against the government. Such manifestations took place including in Sibiu. Later, in the 2000s, artists would put tags, a label to spread a message or lease a building, and a work of art would come to life there.

Today, street art proposes to beautify the city through art. The revolt was given up, today we want to bring beauty to an already beautiful Sibiu. During the organized festivals, we brought several artists who draw in colors, sprays, artists who have superb work techniques, muralists. Thus, the results can only be works of art in the true sense of the word.

2. When did the Sibiu International Street Art Festival start in Sibiu?
The first edition of the Sibiu Street Art Festival took place in the year 2014. It was and still is the first festival that painted the educational institutions in the country, and we are very happy about this fact. We managed to change the face of the city, but also the mentalities of the people. We entered the children's souls, our works being present in schools since the very beginning. We strongly believe that the education of the little ones is paramount and we want to have more educated masses in the future.

3. Who is financing these beautiful projects you are carrying out in Sibiu?
Like any cultural endeavour, we benefit from both private and public funds. We enjoy the support of Sibiu City Hall, which covers a large part of the festival's costs. We also contribute personally, but we also have private partners. There are many cultural projects, so funding is shared. That is why it is essential to receive support also from the private sector.

4. Where do the artists who give life to the buildings in Sibiu find their inspiration? Or more simply put, how do you decide what is to be painted?
Artists find inspiration in everyday life, and their vision is beautifully transposed through drawing, coloring and shapes. The vision also has an abstract side. Prior to the festival there is a Call for Application, when artists sign up.

The commission analyzes the works according to theme and history and chooses those projects that are to be painted on the buildings in Sibiu. Depending on the theme, we want to choose works that are similar in terms of coloring. Once the works are chosen, we choose the locations. People are becoming more open regarding the locations, but we are still facing old mindsets and fears.

5. Who are the most famous artists who made paintings in Sibiu?
The greatest artists in the country always like coming to Sibiu. Among them I will mention Pisica Pătrată, Sweet Damage Crew, Ortaku. We also have international artists, for example Francisco Camilo (Portugal), Wasp Elder (UK), Dinho Bento (Brazil). Brazil is also the most popular country in street art, but Russia is rapidly approaching. For example, in Russia there are restrictions regarding billboards, but the authorities allow artists to paint ads on the façades of buildings.

6. I know that in addition to the superb paintings on the buildings, SISAF proposes a more complex program every year. Can you give us some details?
Sure I can. In addition to paintings on buildings, SISAF welcomes art lovers with workshops for painting, street art, templates, we have film screenings, live painting demonstrations and much more. We prefer some of them to remain a surprise until the moment of the festival. However, this year, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, these events will be limited.

7. What does Street Art Tour mean?
Street Art Tour is the first street art tour in Romania, inaugurated by us in 2014. A few replicas followed at national level. We are glad that we have been an inspiration for others and we support all efforts regarding art.

8. What are the plans for SISAF 2020? Which are the artists we will host in Sibiu?
We respect the isolation imposed by the authorities entirely and we must admit that in 2020 we will have a different kind of festival, not necessarily in respect to the content, but different in respect to form. Up to 3 artists work on one work at a time, so there can be no congestion or violation of restrictions. Thus, the festival could take place, let’s say, even today.
However, the current conditions will determine us to limit the events organized adjacent to the festival.
Undoubtebly, the festival will be an interesting one. The theme is ORIGINS, also reflecting current times. It causes us to return to our origins, to our bases. Let us emphasize kindness, mutual help and altruism. Let's go back to those times when values were not money or functions, but pure, simple things whose importance has diminished over time, unfortunately.

9. What is the feedback from the people of Sibiu regarding the efforts of this festival?
The feedback from the people is satisfactory. People enjoy the color, the change brought to the city every year, the animation that arises on a dull and gray wall, for example, in full. We enjoy incredible support from the volunteers. Without them, it would be almost impossible for the festival to take place.

10. Finally, please tell us, what does SISAF mean for Sibiu?
Sibiu International Street Art Festival means the revitalization of the city through art. Every year we want to help Sibiu bloom, to fill the streets with color and to bring joy on the faces of the people of Sibiu and not only them. The festival was promoted each year on national media channels, so all Romanians enjoy it.
At the same time, the festival continues the artistic movement started in 2007, when Sibiu was the European Capital of Culture. We are glad that we have good ideas, which are taken over by other communities, cities in Romania and even abroad.