Art that disappears once you see it…

A short review on underground art in Madrid

by Helene Romakin


Would anybody ask me if Madrid had an underground art scene, I would definitely answer with a “no” and probably add “it is rather conservative”. However, if one looks for it one can feel an emerging young scene that is excited to appear at the surface. Some small projects imply that there are people hiding in the underground and these people want to be discovered or at least to be seen. Moreover, talking to people working in the cultural sector of Madrid one feels something interesting growing and evolving, but it is definitely something that is not readily formed yet.


This weekend I was surprised when I visited a space that looked like a former barn situated quite far away from the city centre. At 10 p.m. the space was already completely darkened. One was supposed to see an exhibition, but the lights were off so I could only see something hanging down from the walls. Luckily, I knew that the crowd, which by the way was styled uncommonly for Madrid and looked more like young people from Berlin, was waiting for a performance. Finally, everyone was asked to sit down on the floor in front of a white screen and the performance started.


Lumen by sfhir

Lumen was conceived by young Spanish street artist sfhir whose graffiti you can see sprayed almost everywhere in Madrid. His performance consists of painting with pocket lamps and lasers on a surface covered with photoluminescent pigments. Naturally, it reminds one of the funny toys one had during childhood and that usually helped to fall asleep. But, there is a further dimension the audience gets to see. The distinctiveness of sfhir´s idea lies in the caducity of his painting. The end result is an ephemeral work that disappears in contact with light already while being created. sfhir plays very subtly and maturely with the short duration of his creation. His performance has more of a narrative and mystic storytelling, rather than being about pure graffiti. Accompanied by independent electronic music created by Circuit 81, the performance turns out to be a well elaborated self-contained idea. One can criticize the depth of the artistic statement and one can complain about technical interruptions during the performance. But, at least as part of the audience, one enjoys watching it and also appreciates the easiness of the artist himself – after finishing his performance sfhir allows everybody to paint over his creation as long as it can still be seen.


The performance was enabled by a young art fair for photography called Salida de Emergencia that is also worth following. In my opinion, sfhir is definitely one of the young artists in Madrid one should support. I can only hope that he continues his practice and keeps transforming his ideas into performative street art.



sfhir’s website
Salida de Emergencia – photography art fair

  • One Response to “Art that disappears once you see it…”
  1. Thank you so much for the article!

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