Street art in Bonn Artist Bonnapart gets a visit from the police

Beuel · The artist Bonnapart has always wanted one thing: a whole wall for his street art. To work on it, he took ten days off. Most people are happy about the art, but apparently not all, as the artist had to discover.

  Bonnapart sprays his version of the Wolpertinger, a mythical Bavarian creature, on the wall in Hans-Böckler-Straße

Bonnapart sprays his version of the Wolpertinger, a mythical Bavarian creature, on the wall in Hans-Böckler-Straße

Foto: Meike Böschemeyer

In his holidays, the artist was visited by the police. Bonnapart had taken ten days off work to do this thing he had always wanted to do. He had spray cans, stencils, sunglasses and a small loudspeaker in his luggage - and then he set off. The journey took a few minutes.Now the artist from Beuel, who does not want his real name to be published, is sitting on a white wooden chair he has set up on the pavement in Hans-Böckler-Straße under a parasol. There are spray cans on the table next to him, and tape and a packet of tobacco are lying around. A cardboard stencil is stuck on the wall in front of him.He takes the can, sprays, pulls off the stencil and a blue Wolpertinger appears on the colourful wall. It is not clear how the legend of the mythical Bavarian creature began. The story goes that taxidermists began assembling body parts of various animals in the 19th century to sell to gullible tourists: squirrels with duck beaks, for example, or rabbits with duck wings.

The first A at grammar school

Bonnapart's Wolpertinger is a hare with crow's feet and antlers that have hearts instead of tips. His interpretation came about when he helped a friend's daughter with a school project for which he made a stencil of a lung infected with Coronavirus. "This earned me my first grade A in high school" says Bonnapart. The stencil later hung in his home next to that of a rabbit. This sparked the idea of merging the two.

And then he got the wall, all to himself, something he had dreamed of for a long time. A buddy knew the family who owned it and put him in touch. He made a design with the graffiti artist Eugen Schramm. The family liked him and the two were able to get started. "Eugen wanted to combine graffiti and stencil," says Bonnapart, who actually designs his work at home, using stencils to do it, and later glues it in the city.

"I wanted to work with people who have different techniques and styles than me," says Schramm. That's why he has often approached friends and acquaintances in recent years to ask if they would like to work with him; he has known Bonnapart for 25 years. Schramm designed the colourful background and put it on the wall with his friend and the artist Mad Mila. The 25-metre wall now serves Bonnapart as a kind of large canvas on which he can do whatever he wants.

"Beuel needs to become more colourful," says Bonnapart. The residents of Beuel obviously think so too. Time and again passers-by stop, even motorists pull over to look at the wall. "Most people are happy," says the artist. But not everyone. On the first day, police officers suddenly appeared. Bonnapart knew one of them from his time in the police force, where he trained as a car mechanic.

Eyewitness observes casual sprayers

It soon became clear that they were there legally. The police report notes that the witness who called the police observed two men with several bags and chairs; and stated, "they seem quite relaxed". After speaking to the owners of the wall, the officers departed." Before they left, I exchanged numbers with my old colleague," says Bonnapart.

A few days have passed since then. In that time, and a lot has happened to the wall. There are lots of birds, his trademark, but also a ram - the star sign of the wall's owner's late father - as well as the ship from the Beuel coat of arms, which he designed especially for the project. One of the first works to make it onto the wall was a ballerina. It has only recently entered Bonnapart's repertoire and is dedicated to his girlfriend, who is a dancer.

The birds are drawn to other countries

She recently took some of his work to New York: A ballerina in red, white and blue, the colours of the American flag, now hangs in Central Park, and some of his birds on mailboxes and streetlamps. His version of the "W" - the symbol of the New York rappers of the Wu-Tang Clan - has also made it to the other side of the Atlantic.

"I cried when I saw the photos from New York," Bonnapart says. "As a teenager, I wanted to go to New York with my mates to buy records." To the city where the rappers they thought were cool came from: Nas, Mobb Deep and Wu-Tang Clan. And the city that more than any other stands for graffiti.

Bonnapart's birds have also made it to many other countries. A young guy on a scooter stops at the wall in passing. "I wanted to take a look at this," he says. For him, it will soon be off to Switzerland and Morocco, and he will have some of Bonnapart's work in his luggage. "You've given me far too many," he says "But I'll see about getting rid of them all." Actually, the artist is convinced: "Birds don't fly" - at least that's what it often says under his paintings. But right now there are signs that they are taking off.

(Original text: Dennis Scherer; Translation: Jean Lennox)