Street Artists show Support for Spanish Rapper Pablo Hasel

Street artists in Barcelona have been showing their support for rapper Pablo Hasel. The singer has been at the heart of a controversy in Spain in a case which cuts to the heart of rules around freedom of speech. Showing support for Pablo Hasel, artists took to the streets. They created a number of murals at the Parque de las Tres Chimeneas in the city.

Pablo Hasel faces prison for “glorifying terrorism and insulting crown and state institutions”. A singer and activist, he was originally convicted to two years and one day in prison in March 2018 by the Spanish High Court. This was later reduced on appeal to nine months and one day. The judge at this point said his messages did “not pose a real risk to anyone”. This was a decision upheld by the Spanish supreme court in May 2020.

Roc Blackbook painted his portrait of King Juan Carlos of Spain
Roc Blackblock begins to paint an image of King Juan Carlo of Spain at the Parque de las Tres Chimeneas in Barcelona

Free Speech in Spain

At the heart of Pablo Hasel’s conviction were 64 messages he shared on twitter between 2014 and 2016. It also referenced a song he shared on youtube. He was convicted under a 2015 statute known as the ‘gag’ law in Spain. His lyrics were found under that law “to have encouraged violence and insulted the monarchy”. It is something which has been controversial in the country. The law itself “bans speech not only for glorifying violence, but also for insulting religions or the monarchy”.

Reskate and Chamo San painted a mural which showed Juan Carlos behind bars

The case comes at a time when the state itself has been looking at ending prison terms for alleged crimes involving free speech. As a result it is something which has stirred strong emotions in Spain. Pablo Hasel himself is a figure well known already. He has had run ins with the law and state before. Previously he was convicted in 2015 for lyrics which expressed similar sentiments. Originally he was due to serve two years for those offences though he never actually went to prison. It was partly this which led the judges in the later case to enforce the prison sentence for his later conviction.

Artists paint a mural tribute to Pablo Hasel
Artists paint a mural to Pablo Hasel at the Parque de las Tres Chimeneas in Barcelona

Freedom of Speech

A petition protesting against the imprisonment has gained traction in artistic circles. Saying that “the imprisonment of Pablo Hasel makes the sword hanging over the heads of all public figures who dare to openly criticize the actions of state institutions all the more evident. We are aware that if we allow Pablo to be jailed, tomorrow they could come after any one of us, until they have managed to stifle any whisper of dissidence”. The filmmaker Pablo Almodovar and actor Javier Bardem have come out in support of it.

Wanting to show their own solidarity with Hasel, street artists in the city created a series of artworks. The location in the Parque de las Tres Chimeneas is a well known skate park and graffiti hall of fame. Street art is a regular sight here and the walls are generally open to paint on. Many of the artists have used the Catalan expression LLibertat D’Expressio which means ‘Freedom of Expression’. It is very much this sentiment which has prompted the artists to show such a public support.

Mural showing Pablo Hasel being painted over by King Juan Carlos
Mural by Cinta Vidal in Barcelona

Political Murals

Of all the Spanish institutions it is the crown which seems to be most prominent in the mind of the street artists. The gag law specifically seeks to ban criticism of the monarchy. It’s something which is unacceptable to many especially in Catalan which is a fiercely independent state. Many of the murals feature King Juan Carlos prominently. One piece from Roc Blackblock was painted over by the Barcelona authorities soon after it was painted. It showed the king with the word ‘Ladron’ or ‘thief’ pinned to his head. Words describing him as an ‘elephant killer‘ and ‘son of a dictator’ were written around it. Barcelona city council have since apologised for removing the piece.

There were a number of other deeply political murals. One from artists Reskate and Chamo San showed the king waving from behind bars. Another from Cinta Vidal showed the king with a roller painting over an image of Pablo Hasel as if to erase him. A piece from Galleta Maria meanwhile showed a double headed snake. It had the heads of the monarchy and the judiciary coiling around the mouth of a woman. The symbolism is clear in that they are combining to prevent her from speaking.

Llibertat D’Expressio was a paint jam which took place at the Parque de las Tres Chimeneas in Barcelona on 7 February 2021. All pictures in this post are courtesy of Fer Alcala

Llibertat D’Expressio Street Art in Barcelona

Sigrid Amores, Tres Voltes Rebel, Arte Porvo & Elna Or

Free Pablo Hasel mural in Barcelona
‘Free Hasel’ Mural by Sigrid Amores, Tres Voltes Rebel, Arte Porvo and Elna Or
One of the artists applying detail to Pablo’s face

Roc Blackblock

Mural by Roc Blackbook showing King Juan Carlos and the word 'thief' written on his head
A satirical mural showing King Juan Carlos of Spain from Roc Blackblock
Mural painted by Roc Blackblock at the paint jam in Barcelona

Reskate & Chamo San

Reskate & Chamo San mural showing King Juan Carlos waving behind bars. It says ‘ LLibertat D’Expressio’ which means ‘Freedom of Expression’ in Catalan
A crowd gathers to watch the mural painting


‘LLibertat D’Expressio’ painted by Owen translates to Freedom of Expression in Catalan
The expression sits at the heart of Spain’s debate about the ‘gag’ law


The artist Maga by her crown piece showing a man behind bars in the shadows behind
Maga with her finished piece in Barcelona


Pablo Hasel graffiti by the artist Kader in Barcelona
Kader’s graffiti piece saying ‘Pablo Hasel’ and shows a hanged man holding a microphone and holding what appears to be a keyring. On the keyring hangs an upside down crown
Kader painting his piece in Barcelona

Galleta Maria

Galleta Maria piece showing a double headed snake. The snake seems to represent the crown and the judiciary whilst it coils itself around the mouth of a woman
Galleta Maria applying detail to her piece

El Edu

El Edu’s mural on the Parque de las Tres Chimeneas. The piece is a statement on what the artist sees as the death of freedom. Speaking on his instagram Ed Edu said “we can go to Mars but not say what we want. Nothing new on the horizon…”
El Edu at work on his mural

Cinta Vidal

Cinta Vidal mural of Pablo Hasel
‘LLibertat Pablo Hasel’ which is Free Pablo Hasel in Catalan. King Juan Carlos of Spain is painting over the image of Pablo Hasel with a grey bland colour
Cinta Vidal’s mural on the Carrer del Moli

Anton Seoane, El Rughi, Magia Trece & Doctor Toy

Collaboration with Anton Seoane, El Rughi, Magia Trece and Doctor Toy. The piece shows King Juan Carlo with a gun and throwing money around as if a mafia boss. ‘Neither God can judge me it says”.
The artists together by their mural on Parque de las Tres Chimeneas

The poster advertising the paint jam

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