Utrecht’s Urban Gnome

KBTR
For the past six years, a strange red-hatted kabouter (gnome) has been popping up in spots around Utrecht. Rather than showing up in 3D form in gardens, he shows up, instead, on walls and other flat surfaces. KBTR (Kabouter) is Utrecht’s most famous graffiti artist and has even been compared to Keith Haring.

There’s a website “by and for KBTR enthusiasts” and now there’s a book that will be released on October 27. The book, which features 160 full-color pages depicting some of the many appearances of the kabouter around town, is available in a limited run of 1000 copies and is only sold through Revenge, a concept-store at Vredenburg. There will be a special presentation of the book at the store on the 27th, from 17:00-20:00. There’s more information, in Dutch, on the Holland Streetart Flickr group.

I first came across the kabouter at the Griftpark, although I can’t say if they’re all originals or imitations. Still, I’ve since noticed them in other spots around town and always enjoy seeing them.

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10 thoughts on “Utrecht’s Urban Gnome

  1. I admit that I have tried very, very hard – but now have to say I find the vast majority of graffiti ugly and gross (probably would help if I could spell it!!).

    There are a few exceptions who lift it above the banal ego-daubings of people with nothing to say. But they are a very few. I don’t think KBTR is one of those few, though.

    • I like some, others not so much. I do appreciate when they put a bit more effort in, rather than plain scrawls, but I can understand why many people don’t like graffiti at all (and I have trouble spelling it, too).

  2. I’ve seen this around town as well, though I couldn’t name the place(s) if I tried. The grin always freaks me out a bit. Interesting though that there’s a whole story behind it. But, like michael9murray, I’m sorry to say I’m not a fan of graffiti. It’s clear some graffiti artists have a real artistic talent, but why they choose to use this talent to vandalise public buildings/trains etc. is beyind me.

    • I don’t like when they tag certain buildings and such, especially when they don’t even seem to make any attempt at doing something artful. But I’ve seen other structures where I’ve liked it. It’s definitely a case-by-case thing for me.

  3. Pingback: Art Meets Construction in Utrecht | A Flamingo in Utrecht

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