From time to time I discover some unexpected pieces of treasure in Budapest. This happened when I visited Zappa Café (former Tilos az Á) in Mikszáth Kálmán Square for the first time. The interior is dominated by a huge mural from the floor to the ceiling. No more proof needed about its uniqueness, as the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest declared the mural a part of the cultural heritage.
Not only Budapest, but other cities own some extraordinary murals for example New York, Madrid or San Antonio. Moreover, café murals often have an interesting history. Did I catch your attention?
1. Budapest: the story of the 3D mural
Jean-Michel Verret, French artist painted the overwhelming mural on the walls of the cultic club, Tilos az Á in 1992. The mural was highly appreciated because of its technical solutions – as there are only two of this type in the world.
Verret – with his spectacular invention – practically became the pioneer of panorama photography: he created a 360-degree panorama photo with a camera and a robot. Using a slide projector, he projected the picture on the wall. Then he pained the picture on the surface, creating a unique 3D effect.
What happened to the mural?
The cultic place was closed down due to made-up reasons in 1995. The fact that this mural is the only thing that resembles the atmosphere of the old club, increases the value of the artwork for the lovers of nostalgia.
Currently, the former Tilos az Á is a café and restaurant, renamed after Frank Zappa. From the terrace we can watch the flowing crowd of the city, if the weather permits us to do so.
Tilos az Á was founded in 1989 by Vladimir Németh in the heart of the city, in Mikszáth Square. The multicultural place opened in the last year of communism in Hungary, and hosted all kinds of art projects.
The artwork was recognised during the years and was declared as part of the cultural heritage. To preserve its condition, the mural was renovated in 2011. Although the 3D effect is harder to recognise today – allegedly they had a gallery from where you could feel the 3D experience – the artwork is worth seeing.
Fashion shows, theatre plays, performances, folk dance nights, and even gigs of (at that time) “no name” alternative bands were held here. The place’s atmosphere perfectly matched the current attitudes of the youth: freedom, community, being open towards diversity, and discovering new genres.
2. Charmed hotel room in New York
The French artist had a similar mural, which shows the French village Verret was born in, painted on the walls of a hotel in New York.
Verret’s next plan was to take a photo of a street in Budapest using the above-mentioned method, and paint it on a wall in Japan. He died before he could carry out his plan.
3. Artist meeting point: erotic murals in Café des Artistes
The accurately named Hotel des Artistes, “Hotel of Artists”, and the Café des Artistes on its first floor has been a meeting point for America’s greatest starts for a long time. After agreeing with the owner Howard Chandler, Christy started painting erotic frescos in 1934. The iconic sequence of young women highlighted their youth and beauty.
4. Latino stars on the wall: Mi Tierra Dining Room
The legendary Mexican restaurant in San Antonio provides a truly authentic experience. Harsh colours resemble the space, changing from room to room which immediately engage the guests with their intensity. The mural is called ‘American dream’, and was started by a Mexican artist 25 years ago. In the past 16 years, new portraits have been added by Robert Ytuarte.
The restaurant has been run by one family from the beginning – they are also pictured on the mural besides more than 100 famous Latinos.
5. Fierce scene on the wall in Manhattan
The artist originally painted Siena in the middle ages. But the painter, Sandro Chiat painted the crowd of the Palio di Siena, the yearly organized horse race in authentic costumes.
The fierce scene has been decorating the Palio Bar from its opening in 1986 till its recent closing. As we are waiting for the new owner to open the place again, let’s imagine how the mural becomes even more vivid after having a few refreshing cocktails.
6. Fairytale scenes in a Mumbai bar
Café Mondegart was founded by Iranian immigrants as an authentic Persian café in 1932 in Mumbai (former Bombay). The current building (Metro House) was the home of the Apollo Hotel with a bar in the lounge. In the middle of the XX. century they were among the firsts to buy a wurlitzer, and expanded the café into a restaurant.
In the 90s the Café Mondegar was waiting its guests with new furniture and murals on the walls and ceiling.
The managers of the place, Rusi and Hoshang Yazdegardi, representing the Yazdegardi family asked Mario Miranda, to paint fairytale-like scenes on the opposite walls, with two different themes. The first wall’s theme is Life in Bombay, the other’s is The atmosphere of the Café.
Miranda created drafts on canvas before painting them on the walls with the help of Sir J.J.’s students at the Institute of Applied Arts.
7. 25 metres long mural in New York
Some stories in the world of art seem pre-determined, like the story of the mural in Rosewood Hotel. The story starts with Juan Trippe, the founder of Pan American World Airways in Hong Kong, and finishes with his son, Ed Trippe on the Bermuda.
Between these two characters, forms the extraordinary 25 metres long mural, which has been decorating the walls of the Sky Cub in the Pan Am building in New York.
Juan Trippe travelled to Asia in 1965, and payed a quick visit in Hong Kong, which gave home to the world famous painter Gerard d’Alton Henderson at the time.
Henderson’s murals enriched the walls of the famous Mandarin Hotel, maing Juan Trippe was totally amazed which motivatse him to set a meeting with the artist. Soon, Henderson had a job offer to paint the murals of Sky Club in Pan Am in New York.
The artist’s oil paintings on canvas showed contemporary clipper sailers and whaleboats used at the end of the 19th century. The mural’s scenes show a New York harbour in 1850, Victoria Harbour of Hong Kong in 1860, a harbour in Rio de Janeiro in 1850, one in Constantinople in 1950, one in Beirut, and Lahaina Maui harbour in Hawaii in 1860.
The murals today decorate the walls of a restaurant called The Point in the Rosewood luxury hotel in the Bermuda Islands. The hotel was opened by the Trippe family with their partners in Bermuda.