The East Side Gallery in Berlin consists of a 1.3 km long section of the Berlin Wall. It was originally painted back in 1990 by a collection of 106 artists.
Until recently however, this section of the Wall had fallen victim to pollution and weather-damage, leaving the images almost indecipherable. But now in time for the celebrations of the 20th anniversary of the Fall of the Wall, the paintings have been resored to their former glory.
Bernard Kriedner recreated his artwork on a 14-metre stretch of the wall completely from scratch, working with small handbrush.
He says, “Everything was taken down and repaired, down to the concrete, and the metal reinforcement which had rusted. Three, four, five layers were re-laid and restored in a way which should last now that the wall is protected.”
Iranian artist Kani Alavi is the driving force behind the restoration which involved around 90 artists and which cost 2.5 million euros. He says, “We tried to restore one painting without erasing it first but it didn’t work. The paint we used back in the early 90s was not good quality. We bought it cheap and it was not suitable for outdoor use.”
The East Side Gallery – in an area that used to be part of East Berlin – attracts millions of tourists every year. Local residents also appreciate the artwork. Resident Doris Reik says, “I think the Gallery is a really good reminder that the Wall stood here – not in an extreme way but through these nice paintings. I think it is appropriate.”
And Dutch tourist voices many people’s thoughts when he says, “There are still dangers: Iraq, Korea… and anything could happen of course. So it is very meaningful that these symbols are alive and present.”
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